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ECAC Hockey picks: Nov. 13-14

Here’s a look at this weekend’s games:

Friday, Nov. 13

Brown at Union
The Bears will look for their first win of the season against a reeling Union squad that will be desperate to right the ship. The Dutchmen snapped a four-game losing streak to Clarkson last weekend and come into Friday’s meeting with a 3-4-3 record. Brown is 0-3 but has shown signs of life offensively as nine different players have contributed.
Prediction: Brown 3, Union 2

No. 10 Yale at Rensselaer
Rensselaer is off to its best start since the 1994-95 season, posting a 3-0-1 record in ECAC play through its first four games, including victories over Clarkson and St. Lawrence last weekend. Riley Bourbonnais leads the Engineers with five goals and nine points so far. But RPI will begin the weekend with a big test against No. 10 Yale, 3-0-1 overall. Last year’s leading goal-scorer for the Bulldogs, Mike Doherty, is off to another good start with four points in four games.
Prediction: Yale 5, RPI 3

Colgate at Cornell (two games)
The Big Red look to continue their impressive start with a two-game series against Colgate this weekend. Cornell freshman Anthony Angello is the Big Red’s first rookie to have points in his first four collegiate games since Ryan Moynihan in 1996, while leading the country in points per game by a freshman. Colgate snapped a three-game losing streak against Princeton last weekend, facing tough opponents Quinnipiac and Providence. Against the teams they’re supposed to beat, the Raiders have done well.
Prediction: Cornell 4, Colgate 2

No. 7 Harvard at No. 4 Quinnipiac
Game of the week in ECAC play. Quinnipiac’s offense has been almost impossible to stop, putting up 35 goals in the Bobcats’ first eight games. Quinnipiac is undefeated at 8-0 so far and leads the nation in power-play goals (12) and power-play goals per game (1.50). Harvard, however, has the ultimate X-factor in Jimmy Vesey and the Crimson’s offense is seemingly just as powerful. This is going to be a high-scoring shootout from start to finish.
Prediction: Quinnipiac 7, Harvard 6

No. 19 Clarkson at No. 15 St. Lawrence
The Golden Knights have unceremoniously maintained their present course through their first eight games, posting a 5-2-1 record. With a 4-1 loss to reeling Union last Saturday following a 2-2 tie to RPI, however, Clarkson will look to get back on track against St. Lawrence. Saints defensemen Gavin Bayreuther and Eric Sweetman have combined for 17 goals so far this season, and their penalty kill is one of the best in the nation. Look for a low-scoring, defensive game here.
Prediction: St. Lawrence 2, Clarkson 1

Dartmouth at Princeton
The Big Green didn’t exactly have it easy to start the season: two big losses to Harvard and a 4-2 loss to Yale last weekend. Dartmouth’s one win came 7-3 against Brown. For a team that has seen both sides of the spectrum, low-ranked Princeton should look mighty appetizing for a team trying to figure itself out.
Prediction: Dartmouth 4, Princeton 2

Saturday, Nov. 14

Yale at Union
If the Dutchmen can find a way around Brown on Friday, then at least they’ll have some confidence coming into Saturday’s tough matchup against the Bulldogs. Yale is firing on all cylinders and Union just isn’t. Not yet, anyway. Bad timing to come up against a team like that for the Dutchmen.
Prediction: Yale 5, Union 1

Brown at Rensselaer
Rensselaer’s fast start this season should be no match for Brown. Despite the Bears’ scoring depth, Saturday’s matchup should be a good test for a team looking to find its place.
Prediction: RPI 4, Brown 2

Harvard at Princeton
Vesey and the Crimson should find a much easier time running away with Saturday’s matchup against Princeton. After what should be a fireworks display against the Bobcats on Friday, this game almost feels like a gimme.
Prediction: Harvard 3, Princeton 0

Dartmouth at Quinnipiac
If Dartmouth’s big losses to Yale and Harvard were any indication, the Big Green’s game against Quinnipiac should be just as lopsided. Chalk this up for a huge win for the Bobcats, as they roll to yet another undefeated weekend.
Prediction: Quinnipiac 6, Dartmouth 0

Harvard, Yale show how even they are

Harvard, Yale bring fireworks

It was fitting that No. 7 Harvard and No. 12 Yale skated to a 2-2 tie Friday night at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. With the goalie pulled in the final minute, Yale’s Joe Snively scored his second goal of the game to force overtime. As if we needed another reason to see just how even these two teams really are. It was fun, exciting and hard-fought. This is going to be the matchup to watch down the stretch. Harvard (3-0-1) will have another test this weekend against Quinnipiac, while Yale (3-0-1) will play Rensselaer and Union.

Cornell making impressive strides

Before the season started, Big Red coach Mike Schafer talked about re-establishing a culture at Cornell. Whether or not that culture has been fully established is probably a little premature to indicate, but Cornell is certainly making its case for biggest turnaround. The Big Red was 11-14-6 last season, but through their first four games they are 3-1 and on the right track, the one loss coming against 5-4 in overtime against Quinnipiac on Saturday after the offensively powerful Bobcats overcame two, three-goal deficits. Cornell will take on Colgate in a two-game set this weekend.

Union rights the ship, for now

If there was ever a team that needed a win this weekend, it was Union. It’s been difficult to put a finger on the Dutchmen this season, but Saturday’s 4-1 win over Clarkson certainly pointed them in the right direction. The win snapped a four-game losing streak, and brings Union to 3-4-3 so far. The Dutchmen will have a tough matchup this weekend as they take on Brown and No. 12 Yale.

ECAC Hockey picks: Nov. 6-7

Last time: 7-4-1

Overall:  7-4-1

It’s the first full weekend of conference play for the ECAC this season. Here’s a look at the games on the schedule. All are set to begin at 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 6

Rensselaer at Clarkson

The Engineers are coming off an impressive sweep of Union last weekend. Despite that, it’s hard to go against the Golden Knights, who are off to their best start in 24 years. Clarkson wins

Quinnipiac at Colgate   

At 6-0, Quinnipiac is one of hottest teams in the country. Colgate has altered between good and bad weekends, and last weekend was bad, as the Raiders gave up 11 goals in a sweep by defending national champions Providence.  Colgate should straighten itself out later in the season, but the Bobcats simply look too dangerous in the early going. Quinnipiac wins

Princeton at Cornell

Cornell showed some signs of offense last weekend against Niagara, scoring seven goals in a sweep of the Purple Eagles. Princeton should be improved from last year, but I’m not sure the Tigers will be able to string together enough goals to beat the Big Red. Cornell wins

Yale at Harvard

This is without a doubt the matchup of the weekend, as these long-time rivals should be near the top of the ECAC standings this year.  Both are 2-0, although I think Harvard’s lineup is a little deeper, and that should give the Crimson a slight edge. This game will be televised on NESNPLUS in New England. Harvard wins

Brown at Dartmouth

Neither team was great the last time out, as the Bears lost 7-5 to Holy Cross, while Dartmouth was swept by Harvard in a home-and-home series. Goaltending might still be a question mark for Brown, but I think the Bears have enough offense to get the win. Brown wins

Union at St. Lawrence

Coming off a disastrous weekend against RPI, it doesn’t get any easier for the Dutchmen against St. Lawrence. The Saints are off to a 5-2-1 start, and look every bit as strong as last season. St. Lawrence wins

Saturday, Nov. 7

Union at Clarkson

I have a hard time picking Union to get swept in back-to-back weekends, but the Golden Knights are playing incredibly well. Clarkson wins

Princeton at Colgate

For the most part, offense hasn’t been a problem for Colgate so far. The Raiders are allowing just over four goals per game, but I’m not sure the Tigers have the firepower to get into a shootout with Colgate. Don’t discount Colton Phinney and the Princeton defense stealing a win, but the Raiders should be able to string together enough goals to handle the Tigers. Colgate wins

Quinnipiac at Cornell

As noted earlier, the Big Red showed some offensive ability last weekend, but will it be enough to keep up with the Bobcats? Quinnipiac possesses the puck and limits opponent’s chances, so Cornell will need to make the most of its chances. Quinnipiac wins

Brown at Harvard

There could be some goals scored in this game, but I think Harvard has a much deeper lineup and better goaltending. Harvard wins

Rensselaer at St. Lawrence

The Engineers typically play tough against good skating teams like St. Lawrence, although the Saints did take three of four meetings last year. I don’t like using the term “upset” in the regular season, but I think RPI might surprise and head home with a win in Canton. Rensselaer wins

Yale at Dartmouth

Dartmouth looked totally overmatched by Harvard last weekend, and it doesn’t get much easier against the Bulldogs. Yale appears to be ready to complement a stingy defense with an improved offense, and I don’t see Dartmouth able to match the Bulldogs in either of those facets. Yale wins

Sweeps galore for ECAC teams

It was a busy weekend in the ECAC, as the six Ivy teams began their respective seasons, while the first league games of the year took place as well.

Four teams – Yale, Cornell, Harvard, and Rensselaer – won both of their games. On the other hand, Union, Dartmouth, and Colgate were each swept over the weekend.

Engineers take it to the Dutchmen

For the second year in a row, RPI opened conference play with a sweep of Union. The Engineers thumped the Dutchmen 5-1 on Friday, a loss that coach Rick Bennett said was the worst during his eleven years with the program.  Saturday’s game was closer, but the result was the same, with RPI holding on for a 3-2 win.

The sweep came on the heels of a frustrating stretch for the Engineers, who had lost three in a row since beating then-No. 1 Boston College on Oct. 11.

While the two wins were a nice way to start off conference play, it still doesn’t change the fact that the Engineers face an uphill battle in a competitive ECAC. Same for the Dutchmen, who have shown some potential in the early going, while also mixing in some of last year’s inconsistencies as well.

Crimson Open with a Bang

The expectation entering the season was that Harvard would have little trouble scoring goals, and that held true during the Crimson’s home-and-home sweep of Dartmouth.

Harvard scored twelve goals against the Big Green, including seven in Saturday’s season opener. Senior forward Jimmy Vesey, a likely Hobey Baker candidate this season, had two goals and three assists in the series, while linemates Kyle Criscuolo and Alexander Kerfoot combined for seven points on the weekend. That trio should be one of the best in the conference, if not the country.

Harvard’s power play was five-for-nine in the series against Dartmouth, while junior Sean Malone (five assists) had a solid weekend as well. But how far the Crimson go this season may hinge on sophomore goalie Merrick Madsen. The Philadelphia draft pick made 25 saves for his first collegiate shutout on Saturday night, and followed that up by stopping 18-of-20 shots Sunday.

Cornell, Yale start out perfect

Like Harvard, Cornell and Yale started each of their respective seasons with a pair of wins. Cornell swept Niagara, while the Bulldogs beat Princeton and Massachusetts to win the Capital City in Trenton, New Jersey.

It was a nice weekend on both ends of the ice for Yale, as Alex Lyon stopped 53-of-55 shots, and six different players recorded a goal.

The Big Red came back twice against the Purple Eagles on Friday, and then won it in on Christian Hilbrich’s overtime goal. The big forward led Cornell with 10 goals last season, and should be an important part of the offense again this year.

It was a little easier in Saturday’s home opener, as the Big Red scored twice in each of the first two periods and won 4-0. Cornell players wore special jerseys to honor players throughout the program’s history.

Big Red junior Jeff Kubiak matched his career total with two goals in the game, while Cornell hit the four goal mark in its second game of the season after only doing so four times last year.

ECAC Hockey picks: Oct. 30-Nov. 1

Here’s a look at this weekend’s games involving ECAC Hockey teams:

No. 16 St. Lawrence at Penn State (Friday)

For the first time, St. Lawrence will face a Big Ten team in Penn State this weekend. After playing to a 2-2 tie on Thursday night, the Saints look for some road success after starting the season 1-1-1 away from Appleton Arena. St. Lawrence has five players with four points and 15 players with two points this season — a balanced offensive roster that has posed well for the Saints so far. But they need to do better on the power play, having scored only twice out of 30 opportunities.

Prediction: St. Lawrence 3, Penn State 2

Rensselaer vs. Union (Friday at Union, Saturday at RPI)

Both ECAC teams will begin conference play this weekend, but it seems RPI already has the historical advantage. The Engineers have won three of the last four meetings against the Dutchmen and will look to take advantage of a floundering Union squad as the team continues to struggle this season. After taking down No. 3 Boston University on Oct. 10, Union has gone 1-1-2, including losses to New Hampshire and Maine while tying ranked Michigan 5-5 on Oct. 23. It might be a while before we can figure out who the Dutchmen are this year.

Predictions: RPI 4, Union 3
Union 2, RPI 2

Yale, Princeton at Capital City Classic (Friday and Saturday)

The Ivy League teams will begin their season at the Capital City Classic in Trenton, N.J., this weekend, playing each other in the first round. Massachusetts and Maine are in Friday’s other semifinal. Princeton begins the season with many more questions than answers, as it tries to find its way under second-year head coach Ron Fogarty. Yale, however, heads into this season with high expectations — with many pundits choosing the Bulldogs to emerge this season with the ECAC crown.

Predictions: Friday — Yale 5, Princeton 1
Saturday — Yale 4, Maine 0 or Yale 3, UMass 2
Maine 4, Princeton 2 or UMass 2, Princeton 0

No. 3 Providence at Colgate (Friday and Saturday)

Colgate has started the season off on as big of a roller coaster as any, with a split on the road against Mercyhurst (including a 9-7 loss), a 2-1 nail biter against Northeastern and a two-game sweep vs. Rochester Institute of Technology. Now, the Raiders have a chance to prove themselves against a highly ranked opponent. The third-ranked defending champs come in as clear favorites, but Colgate has a golden opportunity to surprise some people early.

Predictions: Providence 2, Colgate 1
Colgate 3, Providence 1

Dartmouth vs. No. 11 Harvard (Saturday at Dartmouth, Sunday at Harvard)

The Big Green begin their season against Jimmy Vesey and the 11th-ranked Crimson. Both teams begin ECAC play this weekend, and everyone is expecting Harvard to begin its season on the right foot.

Predictions: Harvard 2, Dartmouth 0
Harvard 3, Dartmouth 1

Holy Cross at Brown (Saturday)

The Bears begin their season against a struggling Holy Cross team that has won only once so far this season. All things considered, Brown’s Mark Naclerio and Nick Lappin should give their team a big offensive boost.

Prediction: Brown 4, Holy Cross 1

Niagara vs. Cornell (Friday at Niagara, Saturday at Cornell)

Cornell will begin its regular season with a two-game series against Niagara, which has seen its fair share of ECAC competition so far this year. The Purple Eagles are 0-3-1 this season and will look for their first win against a Big Red team that looks to get off on the right foot.

Predictions: Cornell 4, Niagara 1
Niagara 3, Cornell 0

Quinnipiac continues to impress, while Union hits a bump

Three things gleaned from the last week in ECAC Hockey:

Union hits a road bump

No. 18 Union had its work cut out for it against No. 11 Michigan and New Hampshire. But a 5-5 tie to the Wolverines and a 5-2 loss to the Wildcats has put a dent in the Dutchmen’s early season momentum.

The team fell to 2-1-3, having allowed 10 goals in its past two games and with a 27-16 deficit in scoring margin for the season.

Michael Pontarelli leads Union with two goals and two assists, while sophomore Ryan Scarfo has three goals and one assist. Something is wrong with this team’s offense. Not exactly the start the Dutchmen were hoping for with ECAC Hockey play on the horizon.

Quinnipiac continues to impress

The Bobcats had their work cut out for them over the weekend, with a two-game series against No. 9 St. Cloud State. With two decisive wins and a 4-0 victory last Tuesday against Maine, it’s pretty safe to say this team is rolling.

Quinnipiac has allowed only eight goals through six games as goaltender Michael Garteig continues to be sharp. Garteig made a career-high 41 saves against St. Cloud State on Saturday, a 4-1 win. The Bobcats have scored 27 goals of their own and are secured tightly in the national rankings.

St. Lawrence splits with Miami

Placed at No. 17 USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll last week, St. Lawrence rebounded from a 1-0 defeat against No. 15 Miami on Friday to rediscover its offense with five goals and a 5-3 win on Saturday.

It’s sort of been the story of this Saints season — up and down play that is on some nights and totally off on others. They’ll play a Thursday-Friday series at Penn State this week, looking for a lot more consistency.

ECAC Hockey Picks: Oct. 23-24

There are a number of notable games this weekend in the ECAC, highlighted by No. 9 St. Cloud State traveling to No. 14 Quinnipiac, and No. 11 Michigan heading to New York’s Capital Region to face No. 18 Union and Rensselaer.  And finally, Harvard, Cornell, and Dartmouth begin their season with exhibition games this weekend.  All games are 7 p.m. unless noted.

No. 9 St. Cloud State at No. 9 Quinnipiac

It’s been a good start for the Huskies and Bobcats, as the team are a  combined 8-0 with five shutouts.  Quinnipiac has a plus-97 shot differential, but  the Bobcats will have a formidable opponent in St. Cloud goalie Charlie Lindgren, who hasn’t allowed a goal in three games thus far. The teams split a series in Minnesota last year, and there shouldn’t be a lot separating them this weekend either.

Friday: Quinnipiac wins

Saturday: St. Cloud wins

Western Michigan at Clarkson

Aside from a 7-1 shellacking at Merrimack last Friday, the Golden Knights have been solid  en route to a 3-1 start. Clarkson has scored 15 goals in four games this season after scoring 81 all of last season. It’s the first meeting in 20 years between the Golden Knights and the Broncos, who enter the weekend 2-0-1.  Western Michigan should present a good test for Clarkson’s offense, as the Broncos have allowed two goals in three games, and are eighteen-for-nineteen on the penalty kill.

Friday: Western Michigan wins

Saturday:  Clarkson wins

No. 15 Miami at No. 17 St. Lawrence

This looks like another series this weekend that should be incredibly close. I’m going out on a limb and predicting a Saints sweep, as Kyle Hayton has shown few signs of a sophomore slump and the St. Lawrence offense has averaged nearly three-and-half goals per game thus far.

Friday: St. Lawrence wins

Saturday: St. Lawrence wins

RIT at Colgate (Friday, 7:05 p.m.); Colgate at RIT (Saturday, 7:05 p.m.)

The Raiders return to action after having last weekend off. It’s been a bit of a rough start for Colgate, but an even rougher start for RIT, as the Tigers are 0-2-1 and have been outscored 13-3.

Friday:  Colgate wins

Saturday: Colgate wins

No. 11 Michigan at No. 18 Union (Friday, 7:30 p.m.)

It’s only the second time these teams have ever met, with Union beating the Wolverines 6-3 in the first matchup in 2011. The game also marks a homecoming for former Union sports information director Jeff Weinstein, who now works in the same capacity for Michigan. I  could see this one going either way, but I’ll give a slight edge to the home team.  Union wins

New Hampshire at No. 18 Union (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.)

The Wildcats have scored plenty of goals, but have also given them up at a high clip as well. This should be a good test for a Union defense that has been rock solid through the first two weeks of the season. Union wins

No. 11 Michigan at Rensselaer (Saturday, 7:07 p.m.)

RPI had a rough time at the Brice Alaska Goal Rush, losing third-period leads in each of its two games in Alaska.  The Engineers can’t afford any slipups against a Wolverines team that has nine goals in two games this season. Michigan wins

 

Previewing Quinnipiac and Maine

One non-conference game is set for tonight, with Maine traveling to No. 14 Quinnipiac for the sixth-ever matchup between the teams. The Bobcats beat Arizona State 5-0 Thursday, while Maine is coming off a tie and a loss against Union last weekend.

Maine has been strong defensively but hasn’t scored much in the early going, entering tonight with five goals in four games. That will need to change if the Black Bears want a chance for a win against high-scoring Bobcats team that has outshot its opponents 131-54 over the first three games of the season. I’m predicting a win for the Bobcats to move to 4-0.

Union, Quinnipiac remain unbeaten; RPI returns home empty handed

Defense was a problem for Union last year, but the Dutchmen have allowed five goals through the season’s first four games, including only one in two games against Maine last weekend.

Union is allowing 31 shots per game, but junior Alex Sakellaropoulos and freshman Jake Kupsky have combined for a .955 save percentage thus far. Kupsky, a San Jose draft pick, had a shutout in his first career start Saturday against Maine. Union’s penalty kill is a perfect fourteen-for-fourteen so far.

The offense hasn’t picked up for Union, as the Dutchmen are averaging just over two goals per game and are one-for-seventeen on the power play.  The goals should start to come, and if Union can keep up its steady defensive play, the Dutchmen should be able to rebound from last year’s tenth-place finish.

At 2-0-2, Union joins Quinnipiac as the only unbeaten ECAC teams through the season’s first two weeks.

Engineers Go Winless in Alaska

It’s a long flight home from Alaska to New York, but it was probably even longer for Rensselaer over the weekend.

The Engineers had third-period leads in both games of the Brice Alaska Gold Rush, but ended the tournament with losses against Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Fairbanks.  RPI led 3-2 Friday before the Seawolves scored two goals late in the third to come away with the win.

On Saturday, the Engineers led 2-0 after one but didn’t score again and lost 3-2, despite a career-high 47 saves from goalie Jason Kasdorf. The senior has made 30 or more saves in three of RPI’s four games this season.

The Engineers have a number of freshmen in the lineup, but also have a large senior class and a steady goalie in Kasdorf, making the late collapses puzzling.

Quinnipiac Blanks Sun Devils

There have been occasions the last few years when Quinnipiac thoroughly out-played and out-possessed an inferior team, only to run into a hot goaltender and come out with a loss.

Those first two points were true Thursday against Arizona State, as the Bobcats outshot the Sun Devils  57-14, with Arizona State goalie Ryland Pashovitz making 52 saves in a 5-0 QU win. It was the first time an ECAC team played the Sun Devils, as the program is in its first season of Division I competition.

Bobcats freshman Thomas Aldworth had two goals and an assist for the Bobcats, and could join Landon Smith and Sam Anas as players making an offensive impact as a rookie.

Weekend picks for Oct. 16-17

Here’s a look at the games involving ECAC Hockey teams on Friday, Oct. 16, and Saturday, Oct. 17:

Maine at Union

After defeating Boston University late last weekend, Union will take on Maine in a two-game series at home. The Black Bears are 0-0-2 after ties with Michigan State (3-3 on Friday, Oct. 9) and North Dakota (1-1 on Saturday, Oct. 10). Freshman Rob McGovern made 44 saves for Maine in the tie against North Dakota. The Dutchmen have won the last four meetings with Maine, including a sweep of the season series a year ago 3-0 and 5-2. Union is 12-1-1 in its last 14 games against Hockey East opponents.

Friday: Union 3, Maine 1
Saturday: Union 5, Maine 2

Rensselaer vs. Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska in Alaska Goal Rush

It was quite the weekend for Rensselaer, falling 3-0 to UMass-Lowell before taking down first-ranked Boston College 2-1. Junior Riley Bourbonnais scored two goals and senior goaltender Jason Kasdorf stopped 36 of 37 shots over the Eagles. But RPI is definitely feeling the effects of early injuries, as freshman defensemen Meirs Moore suited up as a forward for both of RPI’s games last weekend. RPI will hope for more magic as its makes the long haul to Alaska this weekend for games against Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska, where RPI is 0-2-1 historically.

Friday: RPI 4, Alaska-Anchorage 3
Saturday: Alaska 2, RPI 0

No. 19 St. Lawrence at New Hampshire, Merrimack

The Saints will open their road season this weekend against New Hampshire and Merrimack. St. Lawrence had an incredible weekend offensively, as nine different players scored goals and 15 different players contributed as the Saints swept Niagara (5-2) and Rochester Institute of Technology (5-1). They outshot their opponents 85-47 over the weekend. St. Lawrence has an advantage historically over both UNH and Merrimack, and is 14-1-1 against Merrimack — its only loss a 3-2 defeat in North Andover in 1986. With the Saints firing on all cylinders early, it’s hard to imagine the offense not continuing to click.

Friday: St. Lawrence 5, New Hampshire 2
Saturday: St. Lawrence 6, Merrimack 4

Clarkson at Merrimack, New Hampshire

The Golden Knights will go the opposite direction as St. Lawrence this weekend, taking on Merrimack on Friday and New Hampshire on Saturday. Clarkson had 14 players contribute offensively with at least a point in its two-game sweep last weekend. But what was more impressive was its power play. Clarkson went 4-for-9 with the man advantage and was perfect on the penalty kill. Despite this, Merrimack has won its last three meetings against Clarkson, including two shootouts, while UNH has defeated Clarkson in its last five meetings.

Friday: Clarkson 3, Merrimack 2
Saturday: UNH 5, Clarkson 3

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