Four college hockey games will be televised nationally on Friday night which means four games will also be on the board in Vegas to accept wagers. As I've mentioned before, the only offshore website that I'm aware of that takes wagers on college hockey is 5Dimes, so those are the lines that we use here.
Minnesota at Michigan - 5:30 p.m. CT - Big Ten Network
Michigan is coming off two victories (Michigan Tech, Michigan State) at the Great Lakes Invitational and Minnesota is coming off a loss (Merrimack) and an overtime win (RIT) at the Mariucci Classic. Both teams were significantly shorthanded in the holiday tournaments, between injuries and missing players at the World Junior Championships, but should be close to full strength for this Big Ten series.
There's no question that right now that Michigan is playing better hockey than Minnesota. The Wolverines are 6-1 over their past seven games with the only loss coming at the hands of Boston College on the road. Michigan is a much better team at home this season with a 7-2 record, while they are just 1-5 away from Yost. The Gophers, on the other hand, are just 2-3-1 away from Mariucci.
The pick: Michigan +130
While I do think the Gophers have the better roster -- especially between the pipes -- there is value to be had with the Wolverines in this one. Minnesota doesn't have a lot of confidence right now and it's showing in its play over the past eight games where they are just 3-4-1.
Notre Dame at Western Michigan - 6:30 p.m. CT - CBS Sports Network
One of the more inconsistent teams in college hockey this season, Notre Dame had another up-and-down tournament at the Florida College Classic. The Irish defeated a very good Miami team in overtime in the opener, but fell the next day to a poor Lake Superior State team. Western Michigan is coming off a loss to Colgate and a win over Penn State at the Three Rivers Classic
One matchup to watch in this game is going to be special teams. Western Michigan has the No. 6 power play in the country this season, converting at 22.7 percent, while Notre Dame is ranked dead last, converting at just 6.1 percent this season.
The pick: Western Michigan -130
I think the Broncos have the advantage in goal and that's likely going to be the difference in a coin-flip game. Lukas Hafner has taken over between the pipes for WMU and has not allowed more than two goals in any of his last six starts. On the other side, Cal Peterson has been better of late for the Irish, but the freshman is still a bit inconsistent, so we'll go with the home team in this one.
Dartmouth at New Hampshire - 6:30 p.m. CT - NBC Sports Network
The first half has been a nightmare for New Hampshire this season as the Wildcats are just 6-11-1 through 18 games. That said, UNH is coming off a huge win last time out as they were able to defeat nationally ranked Nebraska Omaha in decisive fashion, 6-2. As an ECAC school Dartmouth has only played 13 games this season, going 6-5-2. The Big Green are coming off a tie vs. Denver and a loss against Boston College at the Ledyard Bank Classic.
New Hampshire ranks just 38th in team defense this season, giving up 2.83 goals per game this season. A big reason for that was the dismissal of starting goaltender Casey DeSmith from program. Freshman Adam Clark stepped up in his place and has been very average this season with a .903 save percentage in 17 games. The Wildcats added Daniel Tirone at the semester break and the former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders' goalie was very good in his debut, stopping 24 of 26 shots in the win over Nebraska Omaha on New Year's Eve.
The pick: Dartmouth +100
Even with the addition of Tirone, I just can't trust UNH, even though this one is at the Whittemore Center. Dartmouth has proven it can win a big game on the road (Union) and also has a big victory this season over Boston University. I'll take the Big Green in this rivalry game.
Miami at St. Cloud State - 7:30 p.m. CT - Fox Sports North
After a slip up against Notre Dame at the Florida College Classic, Miami has bounced back to win three in a row, once against Cornell followed up by a series sweep against RPI last weekend on the road. St. Cloud has been wildly inconsistent all season long, and split last weekend at home against Quinnipiac, winning on Friday and dropping the finale on Saturday, 4-1.
Miami has been the much better team this season and is one of the best teams in the country with a 14-6 record, including a 5-3 mark on the road. The Red Hawks are currently ranked No. 5 in the latest USCHO.com poll. St. Cloud has struggled as of late, losing five of its last eight games, including losses in four of its last five games.
The pick: Miami - 150
I think St. Cloud has underachieved this season and can win this hockey game if they get better goaltending from Charlie Lindgren. That said, Miami has been much more consistent this season I have a lot more confidence in the Red Hawks in this one. One player to watch is Austin Czarnik, who leads Miami in points with 22, but didn't have a goal until last weekend when he finally buried one vs. RPI. If he can start putting the puck in the net, this Miami team has a chance to do some damage.
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