COYNE: Well, let’s end the suspense, shall we? If this was the first game out for both teams, it would be much easier to call this contest, but with such a lopsided advantage for Chapman in terms of game experience – not to mention home field advantage – it would take something monumental to pick Colorado.
The Buffs do have a premium goalie in junior Brad Macnee and Galvin is back in the fold, but it may take a couple of games for the offense to catch up to last year’s pace after some significant graduation and attrition losses. In short, CU is a work in progress heading into the season. That should spell doom against a Panthers team that already looks primed for Greenville. Chapman, 14-8.
SCHOOLER: Chapman has to feel snubbed in the polls this week. Their only losses are to teams I consider to be the top two, CSU and BYU. Colorado on the other hand has managed to hang onto a decent ranking based on past performance. So we will get to see who this Buffs team really is on Friday night.
I’m sure that as the season progresses, Colorado will look better and better, but I see a repeat of the 2006 blowout. I’m going with Chaptown, 14-7.
No. 1 Colorado State (3-0) at No. 9 Arizona State (4-1) – Saturday 1 p.m. MT
COYNE: Since this contest is the first one of the weekend for each program, it is sure to be the most entertaining. While each has a trap game on Sunday – CSU against No. 17 Stanford and ASU versus No. 20 Northeastern – both the Rams and Sun Devils will be rested and ready heading into Saturday.
At first glance, it would appear that this will be another game in which Arizona State is going to struggle scoring goals. Colorado State’s defense did a nice job of handling the Simon Fraser and Chapman offenses, so ASU will have its issues. Throw in the fact that last year’s prolific Sun Devils team only managed to score five on the Rams, and it’s going to be slim pickings for Arizona State. It’s not going to be an easy go for the CSU offense, either. Goals are going to be at a premium on that end, as well.
Chris Malone admonished me for not taking ASU last week, and I’m really close to picking them in an upset since the offense has shown some signs of life in the last two contents. It’s too much of a leap, however. CSU, 7-5.
SCHOOLER: I have made it quite clear how I feel about ASU and their anemic offense. However, the Sun Devils’ defense is a completely different story, and there is a reason that Dylan Westfall was the focus of the MCLA at the beginning of the year. He is the centerpiece of that team. Just look at the Michigan State game. In a one-goal game, he was the difference maker by going coast-to-coast to score a goal.
However, that was against Michigan State, a team that barely beat a Division II team in overtime and had some difficulty with a mediocre Arizona team. Until I see Arizona State perform well against a proven team, whether it is a win or a loss, I am not sold on them. The Rams are solid at home and on the road, and for that, I am picking CSU, 8-2.
Minnesota (2-1) at Santa Clara (5-3) – Friday, 7 p.m. PT
COYNE: I got burned by the Broncos a couple of weeks against Chico, but I came to find out that most of the team was suffering from the flu. Them’s the breaks, I guess. It didn’t help that the Chico zone had the Broncs baffled for much of that contest. Yeah, I guess you could say I’m a little down on Santa Clara right now.
While I think this is going to be a one-goal game, I’m going to put my faith in a Midwestern squad. The Golden Gophers gave Duluth a run for their money earlier a couple of weeks ago, and while it’s yet to be determined how this UMD team will pan out, Minny is certainly heading in the right direction under Joe Cinosky. It’s always risky taking a cold-weather team this early in the season against a West Coast squad, but I’ll do it. Gophers, 9-8.
SCHOOLER: This has to be one of the best games Jac has ever picked, and I have to admit that I was a little surprised. I thought I was the only person who noticed that Minnesota played Minnesota-Duluth to a two goal game.
To make this pick I have to ask myself if I think Santa Clara can be as good as UMD. I do not think so, but then again, who knows how good the Bulldogs will be this year? The fact that I have mentioned Minnesota-Duluth more than the Gophers in this explanation leads me to the decision to pick Santa Clara, 10-7.
Sonoma State (2-1) at No. 23 Chico State (1-1) – Sat, 2 p.m.
SCHOOLER: Jac was burned by the Wildcats’ win over the Broncos early in the season. To prove me wrong and show me that the Santa Clara game was a fluke, I am hoping he will pick Sonoma in this one. I have to admit that part of me wanted to go with ‘Noma, but I had to remind myself that this is not the same team that I used to play against.
This match-up has also been a battle over the last few seasons with Chico State coming up with the most recent win. Things are leaning Chico’s way. I see the Wildcats coming away with another win, 12-9.
COYNE: This is an egregious example of Nick attempting to sandbag this competition. Pick a game with a ranked team and an unranked team, and then choose the ranked one? Nick’s already trying to salt this one away and we’re just into March. Sad.
I’ve actually liked what I’ve seen out Sonoma’s defense so far. The Seawolves have held all three of their opponents to under double-digits, including No. 8 Oregon in a loss. Figuring out how to put the ball in the net will prove to be more of a challenge for Sonoma, especially on the road. I’m down four games, so I guess I’ll fall into Schooler’s trap on this one and take the underdogs. Seawolves, 8-7.