Before we commence with the feudin' with Iraq an important matter needs to be addressed:
The WCHA Final Five tournament in St. Paul which kicks off Thursday. For us college hockey fans ( .00067% of the US population according to 2000 census figures, just ahead of transsexual Eskimos) the WCHA Final Five is the start of three weeks of nirvana on the ice ending with the Final Four (I refuse to say "Frozen Four") which will held in Buffalo this year on April 10th-12th.
In the interests of a little friendly inter-staff competition Will the Thrill and I will face off in a series of predications beginning with the WCHA Final Five and ending with the Final Four. Here goes:
#4 North Dakota vs. #5 Minnesota-Duluth
UND hasn't been faced with the prospect of having to win the "play in game" in the WCHA tourney lately as they're usually among the top teams in the league. Meanwhile Duluth hasn't even made the Final Five for five years. Duluth has been hot lately while the Sioux limped through the second half of the season. This will be a wide open affair with goaltending proving to be the difference. North Dakota has plenty of offensive firepower but their net minders have been suspect all year. The Dogs win 5-4 possibly in OT.
#2 Minnesota vs. #3 Minnesota State-Mankato
One message for all those Maverick fans looking for hotel rooms in Buffalo. Don't believe the hype. MSU had a great regular season but I still don't believe that they're for real. Last weekend's playoff performance against a feeble Wisconsin team did nothing to dispel my doubts. The Gophers are rolling and, even though Mankato always plays 'em tough, will be too much for the Mavericks to handle. Minnesota 5 MSU 3.
#1 Colorado College vs. #5 UMD
The Dogs dreams end here (although their play-in game victory might be enough to gain an NCAA spot) as CC just has too much talent for them. CC 6 UMD 3
#1 Colorado College vs. #2 Minnesota
This could be a great game with the Gophers playing in front of a friendly crowd and CC probably the best team in college hockey. I still don't trust Travis Weber as a big game goalie and CC should be able to beat him often enough to win. Of course I thought the same thing about Doogie Hauser last year and he proved me and a lot of other critics very wrong. I'd love to be wrong on this one too but I gotta go with the Tigers say 4-3.