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Weekend wrap: Feb. 7

Plattsburgh goaltender Brady Rouleau (above) picked up the 6-1 win on Saturday over Cortland, while teammate Spencer Finney backstopped the 4-3 overtime win against Oswego on Friday. The wins moved the Cardinals comfortably in front of the SUNYAC standings (photo: Angelo Lisuzzo).

If it is at all possible, the playoff picture with just a couple of weeks remaining got cloudier, not clearer, across many of the conferences this weekend.

Some teams with opportunity to create separation fell victim to upsets, while some other teams looking to make a late-season run made a statement about the fact they are still in the mix and aren’t going to go away anytime soon.

Here’s the East weekend recap:

ECAC Northeast
After conference leader Nichols stumbled earlier in the week against Western New England, the door was open for some contenders to make a move, but teams making a late-season run kept things very tight at the top. The Golden Bears got their first conference win by a 4-1 score behind two goals from Dane Genord and 43 saves from Kevin Gollmer in the 4-1 win over the Bison.

Wentworth is showing they are going to be a tough out down the stretch and into the playoffs with wins over contenders Endicott and Suffolk. Kyle Lebrun scored twice and Joel Miller made 38 saves in the 4-3 win over the Gulls, while Miller again showed he is among the best in the conference by making 37 saves in a 3-1 win over Suffolk.

ECAC West
Neumann finally figured out how to slow Hobart down with a 2-0 win on Friday night despite being outshot 42-27. Nick Perruccio had a goal and an assist, while Mitch Wiebe stopped all 42 Statesmen attempts to earn the shutout and two important points for the Knights. Hobart earned a split on Saturday with a 7-1 win powered by two goals from Andrew Silard.

Hobart has opened up a large lead in the standings, but Utica made a strong statement for second place with a weekend sweep over Manhattanville by scores of 5-2 and 2-1 in overtime. Adam Moody scored twice for the Pioneers on Friday, while Shawn Lynch figured in both Utica goals, including scoring the overtime winner on Saturday night.

MASCAC
The battle at the top continues to be tight with Plymouth State and Salem State both posting key conference wins heading into their head-to-head showdown this week. Both teams showcased the hallmarks of what makes them both successful this season. Salem State used goals from five different scorers to earn Marcus Zelzer his 12th win of the season, while Plymouth State used a similar formula in downing Massachusetts-Dartmouth by a 4-2 score. The Panthers got goals from four different players and Gordon Caesar picked up his 13th win, making 18 saves.

NE-10
Stonehill remains unbeaten in the D-II conference at 7-0-2, having picked up two wins over Franklin Pierce and Assumption. Kevin Airoldi picked up a goal and an assist in the 3-2 win over the Ravens, while Thomas DePaolo notched a hat trick in the Skyhawks’ 6-1 win over Assumption on Saturday night.

NEHC
Maybe it was the back-to-back losses in December before the break or not being nationally ranked for the first time in this millennium or maybe it was just home pride that found Norwich winning two crucial games against Babson and Massachusetts-Boston by 5-1 and 4-2 scores, respectively. Paul Russell scored four goals for the Cadets in the two games, including a hat trick in the win over the Beacons on Saturday. Braeden Ostepchuk picked up both wins in goal with a combined 52 saves for Norwich, who solidified their hold on third place in the standings.

NESCAC
What many thought might be a defensive duel for the top spot in the conference standings turned into a wild offensive showcase as Williams used an overtime goal from Zander Masucci to down Trinity 5-4. The Ephs overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits before the Bantams used a late extra-attacker goal tie the game at 4-4. Masucci just needed 27 seconds to settle the affair and Williams capped off the weekend with a 4-3 win over Wesleyan to match Trinity’s 4-1 over Middlebury.

Bowdoin appears to be making a late-season run as they took four points with road wins over Amherst and Hamilton to move into fifth place in the standings. Matt Rubinoff had two goals and an assist in the Polar Bears’ 6-2 win over Hamilton, who have lost three of their last four games.

SUNYAC
Connor Gorman scored twice, including the game winner with just two seconds left in the five-minute overtime session, to give Plattsburgh a 4-3 win over archrival Oswego on Friday night. The Cardinals moved to moved to 11-1-1 in the conference with a 6-1 win over Cortland on Saturday. Six different Cardinals scored and Brady Rouleau picked up his seventh win of the season.

While the Cardinals opened up some space at the top of the standings, the battle for the remaining top four places is wide open amongst Geneseo, Potsdam, Oswego and Buffalo State, who picked up a big four points with a weekend sweep over Morrisville.

The 4-0 and 5-1 wins moved the Bengals into the thick of the battle for a home-ice berth. In both games, Buffalo State exhibited great balance with four different goal scorers on Friday and five different goal scorers on Saturday.

Weekend Biscuits

Tyler Stepke, Becker – the Hawks’ goaltender had quite the week, making 58 saves and recording an assist in Becker’s 4-1 win over Salve Regina that was ultimately decided by two empty-net goals. Stepke also made 46 stops on Friday in a 3-1 loss to conference leader Nichols.

Bryce Nielsen, New England College – scored all three of his goals to complete a hat trick in an eventful second period that saw seven goals total between the two teams in the Pilgrims’ 6-4 win over the University of New England on Friday night.

Zander Masucci, Williams – after yielding the game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation, the Ephs defenseman wasted no time in OT scoring the game winner against Trinity. The 5-4 win put Williams atop the NESCAC standings.

WEST WRAP – Brian Lester

MIAC

Augsburg maintained its hold on first place in the MIAC with a sweep of Hamline over the weekend. The Auggies, who topped the Pipers 8-2 and 2-0, have a four-point lead (31-27) over second-place St. Thomas in the conference standings. Jordyn Kaufer made a season-best 43 saves in Saturday’s 2-0 win to help the Auggies clinch a MIAC playoff berth. It was his second shutout of the year and the third of his career. Kaufer has won five consecutive games and has allowed only six goals during the impressive stretch. Trevor Stewart and Mack Ohnsted both scored goals in the win. In Friday’s opener, Nate Flynn and Drew Allen scored two goals apiece to pave the way in an 8-2 victory. The win marked the 11th time this year that Augsburg has scored at least four goals in a game. Flynn stretched his point streak to four games and came through with his fourth multi-point game of the season. Andy Faust dished out three assists, the first time in his collegiate hockey career that he has tallied that many assists in a game. Augsburg is now 14-6-1 overall and 10-1-1 in the conference … St. Thomas kept pace in the title chase as it swept Concordia (Minn.) over the weekend. The Tommies defeated the Cobbers 5-3 and 4-3 and are unbeaten in their last five games. Michael Dockry, Thomas Williams, Connor McBride and Wille Faust all scored goals for the Tommies, who improved to 11-6-4 overall and to 6-5-1 in the MIAC. Faust also came through with an assist in the win, while Joe Morris made 28 saves. St. Thomas fell behind 2-0 in the opener Friday, trailed 3-0 after two periods before exploding for five goals in the third to secure the win. McBride delivered the game-winning goal for the Tommies. Jon Grebosky played well for Concordia, scoring his 11th goal of the year. Jordie Bancroft scored his eighth goal of the season for the Tommies. St. Thomas and Augsburg battle next weekend in a home-and-home series that could very well determine the regular-season championship in the MIAC.

Dylan Nowakowski scored two goals in St. Scholastica’s 5-1 win over Concordia (Wis.) last Saturday to gain a weekend split (photo: CSS Athletics).

NCHA

In a showdown of two nationally ranked opponents, Wisconsin-Stevens Point prevailed in a battle with Adrian. The Pointers took down down the Bulldogs 6-4. Stevens Point scored four unanswered goals to earn the big nonconference win. The fifth-ranked Pointers capitalized on two power-play goals as Joe Kalisz and Kyle Sharkey both scored on those opportunities. Kalisz also dished out two assists. Sharkey and Lawrence Cornellier both tallied a goal and an assist. Taylor McCloy led the Bulldogs with a goal and two assists. Top-ranked Adrian fell to 17-3-1 on the year. The six goals are the most given up by Adrian in a road game under second-year head coach Adam Krug. Adrian had its two-game win streak snapped. The Pointers avenged a 3-2 loss they suffered to the Bulldogs back in November. Stevens Point has won its last six games … Concordia (Wis.) pulled off an upset of No. 13 St. Scholastica Friday night, knocking off the Saints 3-2 in overtime. The Falcons won on a goal by Braden Crone with 8.9 seconds left in the extra session. It was their third OT win in program history. The Falcons trailed 2-0 before Connor Hogg and Taylor Gauld both scored to tie the game at 2-2. Prior to this season, the Falcons had beaten a ranked opponent only once. They have three wins over ranked opponents this year. The win was their 10th of the year, tying a single-season record. Concordia won 10 games two years ago as well. The Saints bounced back on Saturday with a 5-1 win. Dylan Nowakowski scored twice in the win as St. Scholastica improved to 14-5-2 overall and to 12-4 in the conference. Concordia fell to 10-9-2 overall and to 6-8-2 in the NCHA. The Saints are in second in the North Division, while Concordia is third in the South. Bruce Keegan played well for the Falcons, scoring one goal and dishing out four assists.

WIAC

Wisconsin-Superior turned in one of its best offensive performances of the year in a game against Wisconsin-River Falls, knocking off the No. 10 Falcons 5-2 Friday night. The Falcons had allowed only 37 goals all year. Superior scored five goals en route to the win, their first over a nationally ranked opponent this season. Jimmy Hughes, Daniel Litchke, Beau Browning, Viktor Sallhag and Jordan Neduzak all scored goals for the Yellow Jackets. Litchke also came through with an assist in the win. Bryce Fink earned the win as he made 24 saves. The Yellow Jackets weren’t as fortunate in Saturday’s game against nationally ranked Stevens Point. The Pointers struck for six goals in the third to secure the 9-1 win. Joe Kalisz played a key role in the win as he dished out four assists. Jacob Barber punched in two goals and dished out an assist while Lawrence Cornellier came through with a goal and two assists. Jono Davis also came through with a goal and two assists. Stevens Point improved to 18-4-1 overall and to 4-2 in the WIAC. Superior fell to 8-13-2 overall and to 2-4 in the conference. Litchke scored the lone goal for the Yellow Jackets.

Weekend West picks: Feb. 5-6

February is here and that means we’ve reached the final month of regular-season action in NCAA Division III hockey.

Here are my picks for key games in the West this weekend:

St. Thomas (9-6-4, 6-2-2) vs. Concordia (Minn.) (8-9-2, 6-3-1)

The Tommies are tied for second in the conference and have seen their last two games end in a tie. The road hasn’t been kind to St. Thomas this year as it is 2-4-2 away from home. Connor McBride will be a key offensively, having tallied nine goals and five assists. The defense will need to be sharp and goaltender Joe Morris will be a key to that success. He has nine wins and a 2.08 GAA.

The Cobbers are right on the heels of the Tommies, sitting one behind them in third place. The Cobbers have struggled at home, winning only twice in six games. They are also looking to get a little momentum back after winning only once in their last four outings. Jon Grebosky leads the offense with 10 goals and 11 assists. Alex Reichle has eight wins this year and has a 2.99 GAA.

The team that plays better defensively will win – St. Thomas, 4-2, Concordia 3-2.

Hamline (8-9-4, 5-6-1) vs. Augsburg (12-6-1, 8-1-1)

The Pipers are right on the cusp of being in a position to be a MIAC playoff team, sitting in sixth place. They have won their last two games and four of their last six overall. Charlie Adams and Brandon Zurn have been phenomenal all year. Adams has 19 goals and 24 assists, while Zurn has come through with 16 goals and 26 assists. If those two are on, Hamline will be in good shape.
Augsburg is looking to stay atop the conference and will start this home-and-home series on its own ice. The Auggies have won two in a row and are unbeaten in their last four games. Nate Flynn leads the way with 13 goals and 11 assists while Eli May has come through with nine goals and eight assists. Jordyn Kaufer anchors the defense, having won 11 games. He has a 2.19 GAA.

Augsburg, 5-2, Hamline 4-3.

Adrian (17-2-1) vs. Wisconsin-Stevens Point (16-4-1)

The top-ranked Bulldogs head out on the road for a huge nonconference showdown that will have a playoff-like feel to it. Adrian has won its last two and is 7-2-1 on the road this season. Mathew Thompson leads the Bulldogs in goals with 15, while Connor Armour has dished out 27 assists. Adrian is very good at sharing the puck as nine players have tallied 10 or more assists on the season.

The fifth-ranked Pointers have only one loss at home and skate into this showdown on a four-game win streak. They have struck for 106 goals on the season and Kyle Sharkey leads the way with 15 goals. Lawrence Cornellier has come through with 14 goals. Joe Kalisz leads the team in points with 12 goals and 20 assists. The Pointers share the puck efficiently as well, tallying 174 assists.

Stevens Point, 4-3.

St. Scholastica (13-4-2, 11-3) vs. Concordia (Wis.) (9-8-2, 5-7-2)

The nationally-ranked Saints are on a roll, winning their last four games, and they hope to keep that momentum going in a road series against the Falcons. St. Scholastica is 6-2-1 away from home. Brandon Millin has helped fuel the offense, scoring 13 goals and dishing out 11 assists. The Saints have scored 73 goals in all while Tyler Bruggeman has 11 wins on the season. He owns a 2.05 GAA.

The Falcons are looking to get back on track after dropping their last two. They have only one win in their last six games. But they have played well at home, going 7-2-2, and perhaps that will make a difference this weekend. Braden Crone has helped fuel the offense with seven goals and 10 assists and will need a big series for the Falcons to steal a game. Stefen Seel has come through with six goals and 12 assists on the season. Concordia has 50 goals as a team.

Concordia, 6-3 and 4-1.

Wisconsin-Superior (7-12-2, 1-3) vs. Wisconsin-River Falls (13-5-3, 3-1)

The Yellow Jackets have won two of three and are led by Ian Ecklund, who has come through with nine goals and 17 assists. Anton Svensson leads Superior in goals scored with 12. He has also dished out eight assists.

The Falcons have won three of four and are looking to remain in contention for the conference crown. Balance has been key to their success as 10 players have scored at least 10 goals. Kyle Gattelaro leads the way with eight goals and seven assists. River Falls is 10-3-1 at home this sesason.

River Falls, 5-2.

Stevens Point (16-4-1, 3-2) vs. Superior (7-12-2, 1-3)

The Pointers are one of the best offensive teams in the nation and will be tough to slow down. Max Milosek has been solid in goal, giving up an average of 2.05 goals per game.

Superior has allowed 68 goals. Cory Simons has played in eight games, including the last three, and allows 2.94 goals per outing. The Yellow Jackets will need to have their best defensive effort of the year to survive this test.

Stevens Point, 6-2.

Weekend East picks: Feb. 4-6

The road into February just got bumpy again and teams looking to be playing at their best when it matters most are now focused on the stretch drive.

That is good advice for my prediction skills as well.

The picks for last week regressed coming into February as I finished at 4-3-0 (.571) for the weekend. That brings the season record to 41-27-7 (.593), which finds me still chasing the 60 percent success threshold. The sprint to the end of the regular season is on.

Here are my picks for the East this week:

Thursday, Feb. 4

Salem State @ Westfield State
The Vikings are hot on the trail of league leaders Plymouth State and can ill afford a stumble against an always-dangerous Westfield squad that needs to kick their game into high gear down the stretch. No mid-week doldrums for the Vikings in this one – Salem State 5, Westfield State 2.

Friday, Feb. 5

Babson @ Norwich
The Beavers caught a depleted Norwich squad flat in the first meeting back in December, so Mike McShane will have his team ready to go for two important games with teams above the Cadets in the standings. Injuries are a factor for both teams. It is a close game and a tie would not surprise, but the Beavers like playing at Kreitzberg and eke out the season sweep – Babson 3, Norwich 2.

Oswego @ Plattsburgh
The Cardinals are not taking any conference foe lightly and this rivalry usually has big stakes on the table when they meet late in the season. The Lakers have struggled with inconsistency and the Cardinals would like to keep them struggling for a full 60 minutes – Plattsburgh 3, Oswego 1.

Williams @ Trinity
This game may showcase two of the best up-and-coming goaltenders in D-III. Both Michael Pinios from Williams and Alex Morin from Trinity have been key elements in their teams’ success this season. Both might show off their skills here, but the Ephs pull out the win in dramatic fashion – Williams 1, Trinity 0.

Saturday, Feb. 6

Skidmore @ Castleton
The games between travel partner schools always seem to carry a bit more excitement, especially when played as a home-and home event. Home ice does matter for the Spartans, as do the two important points in the standings – Castleton 4, Skidmore 2.

Manhattanville @ Utica
The back half of the two-game weekend set will certainly feature two teams that can score goals in bunches, but something tells me after Friday’s raucous affair this one is going to be a close one – Manhattanville 2, Utica 1.

Assumption @ Stonehill
These two teams just met a week or so ago and the Skyhawks had their way with Assumption. Only four teams qualify for the end-of-year tournament and while Stonehill is in a good spot, both teams need the win and opportunity for points. The home team takes advantage of both – Stonehill 4, Assumption 3.

Playoff seeding is on the line in every game in February and results have an impact on the all-important tiebreakers as well – drop the puck!

Weekend wrap: Feb. 1

Senior Nathaniel Heilbron backstopped Trinity to a pair of wins over Hamilton and Amherst last weekend, helping keep the Bantams atop the NESCAC standings (photo: Trinity Athletics).

The battle in every conference is on for regular season supremacy and playoff seeding.

Some teams helped themselves a lot this weekend while others lost out on chances to move up with the remaining weekends in the regular season swindling down as the calendar turns to February. There are just three weekends remaining and a handful of games to define the season and postseason opportunities.

The highlights of this past weekend certainly set up some interesting matchups for the remainder of the season with no one having clinched anything just yet.

ECAC Northeast

Just four points separate the top five teams in conference and three points separate the top three with Nichols holding a game in hand on their conference foes. Tyler Beasley’s two goals and two assists led a massive comeback on Wednesday night as the Bison rallied from a 6-2 deficit to upend Salve Regina by a 7-6 score. Colin Brennan came on in relief of Alex Larson and recorded 19 saves to pick up the key conference win and two points.

Salve Regina rallied back to pick-up a key road win downing Endicott on Saturday by a 4-0 score, while the Gulls also picked up a split on the week’s play having knocked off contending Suffolk by a 6-3 score behind two goals from Parker Wood.

Johnson and Wales had a chance to make up some ground after downing Curry 5-2 on Thursday, but could not keep the momentum and gain a valuable two points. The Wildcats dropped Saturday’s game to Wentworth by a 4-1 score. The Leopards got 33 saves from Joel Miller and three points from Jake McDonough to key the win for Wentworth.

ECAC West

Hobart created some room at the top of the ECAC West with a pair of home wins over Utica by scores of 7-3 and 4-2. The Statesmen continued to display balanced scoring led by Brad Robbins, who notched five assists in the two wins.

Manhattanville lost some ground on Hobart as they split a pair of games at Nazareth losing by a 6-3 score on Friday before rallying from a two goal deficit on Saturday to get a big two points with a 5-4 win. Stephen Gaul led the Valiants with a pair of goals in the win.

MASCAC

Plymouth State and Salem State are in a battle for the top spot that will go right down to the final week with both teams recording a pair of wins over the past week in conference play. The Panthers fought off a determined Worcester State 2-1 behind Ian McGilvrey’s goal and assist and then added a 5-2 win at Westfield State with Michael Economos potting a pair of goals and Dan Dupell adding three points.

Salem State stayed hot on the Panthers’ trail by winning both games in convincing fashion. The Vikings shutout Framingham State 5-0 on Thursday before dominating Worcester State by a 7-0 score on Saturday. Seven different players scored for the Vikings and Marcus Zelzer picked up his fourth shutout on the season.

NE-10

Stonehill remained unbeaten in conference play at 5-0-2 with a 1-1 overtime tie at Franklin Pierce on Saturday. Skyhawks goaltender William Palmer and Ravens’ goaltender Tom McGuckin were terrific with both recording over 40 saves in a game that didn’t lack quality scoring chances.

NEHC

Massachusetts-Boston and Babson both earned four-point weekends with wins over common opponents. Southern Maine and the University of New England provided the opposition, but the league leaders kept the race at the top close with back-to-back home wins. Goalie Matt Pompa earned a pair of wins and a shutout for the Beavers.

Norwich lost ground on the league leaders by dropping a 3-1 result at Castleton where Fabio Klay scored twice for the Spartans. The Cadets then tied Skidmore 2-2, leaving them eight points back in the standings.

NESCAC

One of the streaks had to end and it was Hamilton’s 11-game unbeaten streak that was stopped by Trinity on Friday night with a convincing 4-0 win. The Bantams won their sixth in a row on Saturday dropping Amherst 4-1 with Nathaniel Heilbron picking up both wins in goal for Trinity.

Williams matched the Trinity wins with a 4-0 win over Tufts and 3-2 win over Connecticut College. Defenseman Zander Masucci picked up a goal in each of the wins and three points overall for the Ephs.

SUNYAC

Not a team that would take anyone lightly, Plattsburgh made their swing of western New York State and came home with a pair of wins over Fredonia and Buffalo State. Friday’s 4-3 win was a see-saw affair where four different Cardinals chipped in with goals. Saturday night, Michael Radisa’s first-period goal was the only tally as Spencer Finney and Mike DeLaVergne were outstanding in their respective nets to keep the game a 1-0 Cardinal win.

Geneseo recorded two wins and a tie during the week, including their rescheduled game with Oswego which they won on Tuesday by a 3-1 score. Over the weekend, the Knights tied Morrisville 4-4 before taking the win on Saturday by a 2-1 score. Trevor Hills scored his 15th goal of the season as the game winner for the visitors.

Weekend Biscuits

Marcus Zelzer, Salem State – the Viking netminder turned back 38 shots in recording back-to-back shutouts and extending his goal-less streak to 146 minutes.

Tyler Beasley, Nichols – the senior forward recorded two goals and two assists, including set-ups on the game tying and game winning goals in the Bison’s 7-6 comeback win over Salve Regina.

Matt Lemire, Massachusetts-Boston – the senior forward posted one goal and three assists in two wins over the weekend, including three points in the Beacons win over UNE that snapped the Nor’easters seven-game unbeaten streak in conference play.

WEST WRAP – Brian Lester

MIAC

Augsburg maintained its hold on first place in the MIAC standings with a weekend sweep of St. Mary’s. The Auggies are now 12-6-1 overall and 8-1-1 in the conference, four points in front of second place St. John’s. Augsburg wrapped up the sweep Saturday with a 5-0 win. Nate Flynn came through with two goals and Jordyn Kaufer earned his first shutout in goal as a member of the Auggies. The transfer from Concordia (MN) has two shutouts in his career. As for Flynn, he now has 24 points on the year, including 13 goals, and he ranks fifth in the league in points. Drew Anderson dished out two assists, coming through with a multi-point game for the fourth time this year. The win marked the 10th time this season that Augsburg has scored four or more goals in a game. They picked up a 4-1 win on Friday. Augsburg forced the Cardinals into an 0-for-6 showing on the power play … The rivalry between St. John’s and St. Thomas lived up to the hype as the two teams played to a 2-2 tie in both games of their weekend series. On Saturday, Andrew Commers scored to give the Johnnies a 4-3 win in the shootout. St. Thomas won 1-0 in a shootout Friday night. Commers also scored a goal in regulation. Kevin Becker scored the other goal for the Johnnies, who are now 8-9-4 overall and 6-4-2 in the MIAC. Willie Faust and Ben Vikich both scored for the Tommies. Saxton Soley made a career-high 40 saves for the Johnnies. The Tommies came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in the power play, but went 0-for-5 in the two games. St. Thomas is now 9-6-3 overall and 6-2-1 in the MIAC. Faust scored in the shootout in Friday’s game. Michael Dockry and Bobby Murphy both scored for the Tommies while Mitch Fritz and Neal Smith scored goals for the Johnnies. St. John’s and St. Thomas are both tied for second in the standings with 21 points apiece.

NCHA

Marian continued its win streak with another series sweep. The Sabres took down the Milwaukee School of Engineering 4-1 in both games to stretch their win streak to eight games. Marin has swept through four consecutive weekends. Devin Stuermer stole the show in the series finale, coming through with a hat trick in the second period. The Sabres scored all four of their goals in the period — Derek Perl had the other goal — as they improved to 13-5-3 overall and to 11-4-1 in the conference. Patrick Dwyer scored the lone goal for the Raiders, who are 12-7 overall and 7-7 in the NCHA. Mike Baldwin won his 10th game in goal on Saturday, racking up 16 saves. Friday was an historic night for the Sabres, who nailed down the 300th win in program history. They also clinched a spot in the NCHA tournament. Gianni Mangone, Travis Meyer, Cole McCaig and James Mathias all scored goals for the Sabres. Omar Mullan scored the only goal for MSOE … St. Norbert capped a sweep of Concordia (Wis.) with a 3-0 win over the Falcons Saturday. The Green Knights won 8-1 Friday night and scored a total of six power play goals in the two games. Riley Christensen scored his ninth goal of the season on Saturday. The Green Knights held a 37-13 advantage in shots and T.J. Black came through with his second shutout of the year as he racked up 13 saves. Black has six wins on the season. St. Norbert, the co-No. 1 team in the country, is now 16-2-1 overall and 12-2 in the NCHA.

WIAC

Kyle Sharkey recorded a hat trick to help Wisconsin-Stevens Point roll to a 9-2 win over Lake Forest in nonconference action Saturday. Sharkey scored two of his goals during a six-goal second period. The Pointers improved to 15-4-1 overall and have won their last three games. The Pointers owned a 38-8 edge in shots, including a 16-1 advantage in the opening period. It was the fewest shots allowed by the Pointers in a period since limiting St. Norbert to seven in November of 1991 in a 22-1 win. Sharkey also dished out an assist in addition to his three goals. Jacob Barber dished out three assists in the win. Jesse Gordichuk made six saves en route to picking up his fourth victory of the season. On Friday, Stevens Point topped Lake Forest 3-1 on Wednesday in the first game of the series. Lawrence Cornellier scored his second game-winning goal of the season in the win … Wisconsin-Eau Claire picked up its second WIAC win of the year Saturday, topping Wisconsin-Superior 5-2. The Blugolds are 13-5-3 overall and 3-2-1 in the conference. Todd Koritzinsky scored two goals while Adam Knochenmus, Jake Hopfner and Patrick Moore also scored goals in the win. The goal by Knochenmus was his 17th of the season. Tyler Green made 27 saves and is now 9-4-2 on the year. The win was the second in three games for the Blugolds.

Weekend West picks: Jan. 29-30

We’ve reached the point of the season where things start to get interesting in conference play.

Over the next few weeks, the best will separate themselves from the rest as titles are decided and playoff tickets are punched.

So without further delay, here are some of the big games on tap for the weekend.

Augsburg (10-6-1, 6-1-1) vs. St. Mary’s (8-9-2, 5-4-1)

Augsburg comes into the weekend as the top team in the conference. The Auggies would love nothing more than to take care of business in this series and remain in first place in a tight title race.

Goaltending will be a key for the Auggies, who have won just once in their last four games. Jordyn Kaufer is 9-4-0 with a 2.45 GAA and a .908 save percentage.

The Cardinals, who just snapped a four-game losing streak, feature two of the top five goal scorers in the conference in Jay Heinle and Martin Gruse. They have come through with 14 and 13 goals, respectively. St. Mary’s has tallied 82 goals in all and will aim to stay in contention for a conference playoff berth.

St. Mary’s, 5-3, Augsburg, 4-2.

St. Thomas (9-6-2, 6-2) vs. St. John’s (8-9-2, 6-4)

This series is always a big one and it’s only appropriate that the stakes will be high when the Tommies and Johnnies square off in a crucial home-and-home series.

St. Thomas and St. John’s are both tied for second with 18 points.

Tommies goaltender Joe Morris leads the league in GAA (2.11) and save percentage (.926) and is 9-5-2 on the year. Connor McBride leads the offense with nine goals and four assists.

The Johnnies, winners of three consecutive games, also have a stellar goaltender in Saxton Soley. He is 5-8-2 with a 2.53 GAA. Neal Smith has been an integral part of the offense, tallying eight goals and two assists.

St. John’s, 3-2, St. Thomas, 4-3.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (12-5, 7-5) vs. Marian (11-5-3, 9-4-1)

Two of the top goaltenders will meet up in this weekend NCHA series.

Nick Kohn is fifth in the league in GAA (1.79), while Omar Mullan leads the offense for the Raiders, punching in seven goals and dishing out eight assists. Gage Christianson has come through with 14 assists, fueling the offense with his remarkable play-making ability. He has also scored twice.

Marian is one of the hottest teams in the conference, having won its last six games. The Sabres have been aided by the play of goaltender Mike Baldwin, who has started 13 games and is fourth in the conference in goals against average (1.67). The offense is led by Devin Stuermer, who ranks fourth in the NCHA in goals with 10. He has also dished out nine assists. Derek Thorogood is third on the team in points with 25.

Marian, 5-3, MSOE, 5-4

St. Norbert (14-2-1, 10-2) vs. Concordia (Wis.) (9-6-2, 5-5-2)

Michael Hill has played a pivotal role in the success of the Green Knights, striking for 11 goals and dishing out four assists. St. Norbert also features two of the best goaltenders in the conference in Tony Kujava and T.J. Black. Kujava owns a 1.42 GAA and Black’s stands at 1.57. They rank first and second, respectively, in the conference in that category.

St. Norbert has racked up 81 goals on 108 assists as its offense is one of the most balanced in the nation.

Concordia has only scored 49 goals, but has done it off 91 assists. Stefen Seel has dished out 12 assists to go along with six goals, while Trammell Lynes has come through with 10 assists. Braden Crone leads the team in goals scored with seven and goaltenders Andy Munroe and Jack Romanulk have combined to start 17 games.

St. Norbert, 6-3, 5-2

Wisconsin-Stout (9-6-4, 1-1) vs. Wisconsin-Superior (6-11-2, 0-2)

Stout is looking to end a three-game winless streak and stay in the hunt for a conference title. The Blue Devils have a winning record on the road, fashioning a 4-3-1 mark, and they hope to continue that success Friday night. Jake Useldinger has played a key role offensively, scoring eight goals and dishing out nine assists. Five other players have scored at least five goals.

Superior is the only team in the WIAC without a win in conference play. The Yellow Jackets are just 2-6-2 at home and are hoping to change that trend this weekend. Ian Ecklund leads the team in points with eight goals and 14 assists. Anton Svensson leads Superior in goals scored with 10.

I think Stout’s balance will be too much to deal with.

Stout, 4-3.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire (12-5-2, 2-2) vs. Wisconsin-Superior (9-6-4, 1-1)

The Blugolds have won five of seven and are determined to stay on track for a conference championship. They feature a high-powered offense that has cranked out 76 goals, with Adam Knochenmus paving the way with 16 goals and 12 assists. Eight other players have tallied at least four goals. Tyler Green has started 13 games at goaltender, including the last four, and owns a 1.69 GAA. He has won eight games.

Superior will look to counter Eau Claire’s potent attack with a stellar defensive effort. Ethan Wood has started seven games and has won twice. Cory Simons has six starts and has picked up three wins. No matter who starts in goal, he will have to be on top of his game for Stout to have a shot at pulling off the upset.

Eau Claire, 5-2.

Weekend East picks: Jan. 28-30

It is already the final week in January, so the home stretch is officially upon all teams and conference play is now everything in terms of points and position for playoff seeding.

The picks for last week may be a confidence boosting jump start for me coming into February as I finished at 5-2-0 (.714) for the weekend. That brings the season record to 37-24-7 (.596), which has me just below the seemingly ever elusive 60 percent success threshold. Let’s see if I can make it two strong weeks in a row.

Here are my picks for the East this week:

Thursday, Jan. 28

Fitchburg State @ Massachusetts-Dartmouth
The last time the two met saw Falcons coach Dean Fuller on the precipice of his 500th win, but the game ended in a tie, prolonging the celebration of the coaching milestone. Just points in conference and seeding on the line in this one and fellow 500-win club member John Rolli likes his team on home ice, but needs some more consistent defense and goaltending to earn this win – UMD 4, FSU 3.

Friday, Jan. 29

University of New England @ Babson
The Beavers are still looking to catch Massachusetts-Boston for the top spot in the NEHC, but a young and hungry UNE squad stands in their way with equal desire to move up in the top four. This one will be fun and physical with the home team being just a tad better – Babson 3, UNE 2.

Utica @ Hobart
Hobart coach Mark Taylor knows exactly what it means to be playing your best hockey going into the end of the year and now back in conference play, the points and position makes it imperative to hold serve at home where the Statesmen are a perfect 8-0 this season. The Pioneers will be a worthy adversary, but the Statesmen will eke this one out – Hobart 2, Utica 1.

Potsdam @ Buffalo State
The Bears have proven they can take the best that SUNYAC has, but to be at the top, they are going to need to finish strong down the stretch starting with a game Bengal squad. The visitors somehow find a way, barely – Potsdam 5, Buffalo State 4.

Saturday, Jan. 30

Salve Regina @ Endicott
Two teams fighting near the top of the ECAC Northeast will want to send a message about who is the better team late in the season. Endicott got its first NCAA win against the Seahawks last fall in a crazy 7-5 affair. Don’t expect so many fireworks this time around, though – Endicott 3, Salve Regina 2.

Hamilton @ Trinity
The battle for a home-ice playoff spot is hot and heavy in the NESCAC and these two contenders know this game is a four-pointer in potentially knocking down a close rival for a spot. No doubt the game will be tight, but the home team gets the nod and maybe in an extra session – Trinity 2, Hamilton 1.

Franklin Pierce @ Daniel Webster
This nonconference game could become a nice rivalry in the Granite State in the future. Both teams have struggled this season for success on the ice, so facing an opponent with equal challenges could be the motivation for a win to close out January – Franklin Pierce 4, Daniel Webster 2.

You virtually blink after Christmas and the end of January is already here. There are just a few weekends remaining in the regular season, so get those points – drop the puck!

Weekend wrap: Jan. 24

Senior Andrew Wigg reached the century mark in career points in notable fashion, figuring in all three of Plymouth State’s goals in a key conference win over Fitchburg State by a 3-1 score on Saturday (photo: Dan Hickling).

The weekend in review…

EAST WRAP – Tim Costello

ECAC Northeast
Just four points separate the top five teams in the conference after a weekend that saw contender battles tighten things up at the top. Endicott avenged an early season overtime loss by knocking off Nichols on home ice by a 5-3 score behind two goals apiece from Cam Olsson and Cam Bleck. Another battle among top-four contenders saw Suffolk knock off Salve Regina by a 3-2 score. The Rams spotted the home team a first-period lead of 2-0 before rallying over the final 20 minutes with two goals to take the lead. Brandon Smolarek made 34 saves in the win that ties Suffolk with Nichols at the top of the standings.

ECAC West
Hobart took games from Nazareth to maintain their grip on the top spot in the conference. Brad Robbins scored all three goals in Friday’s 3-0 win before opening the scoring for four in a row in Saturday’s 6-2 win.

Manhattanville surged into second place with a dramatic 5-4 overtime win over Elmira on Friday night. In a game with five lead changes, the Valiants won the game with just over a second remaining on a penalty shot goal from Stephen Gaul, who was awarded the shot when Elmira’s Rob Simpson was whistled for displacing the net in the final second.

MASCAC
Plymouth State tied Framingham State on Thursday before downing Fitchburg State by a 3-1 score. Forward Andrew Wigg tallied twice an added an assist to bring his career scoring total to 100 points.

Salem State inched closer to the Panthers with a 4-2 win over Fitchburg State on Thursday before dismantling Massachusetts-Dartmouth by a 7-2 score. Cam Moniz and Andrew Bucci scored two goals each for the Vikings.

NE-10
In a game that saw a combined 112 shots on goal, Stonehill took an important conference win from Assumption by a 5-2 score. Garrett White scored two of the Skyhawks’ three first-period goals and chased Assumption’s starting goalie Nick Commesso as Stonehill cruised to the win and remained unbeaten in conference play.

NEHC
Things are tightening up at the top as Babson took a pair of wins over Castleton and Skidmore, while conference leader and travel partner Massachusetts-Boston tied Skidmore 3-3 on Friday night before defeating Castleton 5-1 to yield a point back in the standings. The Beavers now trail by just two points.

Norwich remained in the third spot with a win over New England College and a tie at St. Anselm, while the University of New England won its lone game of the weekend against travel partner Southern Maine by a 9-2 score where 14 players recorded a point for the Nor’easters.

NESCAC
Trinity continued its winning ways with a pair of close wins over Tufts and Connecticut College, while Williams split a pair of games in Maine and Hamilton won its only league matchup over Amherst putting all three teams within just two points for the top spot in the conference.

Wesleyan broke into the win column with a big road win on Friday night when they knocked off Connecticut College by a 5-2 score. James Kline picked up a pair of goals for the Cardinals in the win.

Bowdoin played things close to the vest and took four points at home with a 1-0 win over Williams followed by a 2-1 win over Middlebury. Freshman Cody Tedesco scored the game-winning goals in both games for the Polar Bears.

SUNYAC
Dillan Fox scored twice in Plattsburgh’s Friday night road win over Morrisville and Connor Gorman did him one goal better in recording a hat trick in the home win on Saturday over the Mustangs by a 4-2 score. The four points moved the Cardinals into the top spot alone in SUNYAC.

Anthony Marra scored twice and added an assist as Geneseo downed Cortland 6-1 keeping the Knights in the thick of the battle at the top, while Oswego appears to be making a late-season run following their 5-3 win at Brockport. The Lakers outshot the home team by a 51-30 margin, but needed the game winner from Shawn Hulshof in the third period to break open a 3-3 tie. Hulshof recorded a hat trick with a goal in each period in the win.

Weekend Biscuits
Bryan Green, St. Anselm – the freshman forward made his first goals of the season count in a big way for the Hawks when he scored a natural hat trick to open the scoring in a 5-1 win over Franklin Pierce last Monday night.

Brad Robbins, Hobart – the Statesmen forward made it easy as 1-2-3 in scoring a goal in each period as the only goals of the game for a natural hat trick in Hobart’s 3-0 win over Nazareth. Robbins made it four goals in a row when he opened the scoring on Saturday night’s rematch, also won by Hobart 6-2.

Andrew Wigg, Plymouth State – the senior forward figured in all three Panther goals in a 3-1 win over Fitchburg State that saw Wigg attain 100 points for his career in 93 games played.

WEST WRAP – Brian Lester

MIAC

Augsburg and Concordia (Minn.) went into their weekend series tied for second place in the MIAC standings and they played like two teams jockeying for position at the top of the standings.
Saturday’s game was wild to say the least. The Cobbers trailed 3-0, but scored three goals in a span of 135 seconds to forge the tie. Jordie Bancroft fueled the rally with a pair of goals. Adam Wiertzema scored the game-tying goal. Eli May, Eric Brenk and Nate Flynn all scored for the Auggies, who are now 10-6-1 overall and 6-1-1 in the MIAC. Concordia is 7-8 overall and 5-2-1 in the conference. The Auggies are atop the conference with 19 points and the Cobbers are third with 17 points. Augsburg edged the Cobbers 4-3 Friday and the two teams skated to a 3-3 tie Saturday. The Auggies snapped a two-game losing streak Friday with the win and handed Concordia only its second conference loss of the year. Trevor Stewart scored twice in Friday’s win. Jon Grebosky scored his team-leading ninth goal of the year for the Cobbers. It was his fifth goal in the last six games … St. John’s wrapped up a sweep of Bethel Saturday with a 7-1 win. The Johnnies scored seven unanswered goals to secure the victory and catapult themselves into a tie for second with St. Thomas in the MIAC standings. Both teams have 18 points. The Johnnies have scored seven more more goals in their last three games and have punched in 20 goals in their last three games against the Royals. Mitch Fritz and Neal Smith each scored two goals to pace St. John’s, which is 8-9-2 overall and 6-4 in the MIAC. Smith his pushed his season goal total to eight. Saxton Soley racked up 19 saves for his sixth win. The Johnnies won 7-3 Friday as the fourth line combined for nine points. St. John’s trailed 2-0 early before striking back with fourth goals. Sam Valerius paced the Johnnies with two goals. Travis Payne scored his seventh goal in the last three games for the Royals, who are now 2-12-2 overall and 1-7 in the conference.

NCHA

In the biggest showdown of the weekend, top-ranked St. Norbert and second-ranked Adrian duked it out on the ice. The two teams came away with a split as the Bulldogs grinded out a 5-4 win Friday before the Green Knights salvaged a split with a 2-1 win. Chris Leone scored the game-winner late in the third period to give Adrian the win on Friday. The Bulldogs extended the nation’s longest unbeaten streak at any level of college hockey to 16 games. Trevor Boyd and Brett Pinkerton scored to stake the Bulldogs to a 2-0 lead but Michael Hill struck twice off the power play to tie the game. Riley Christensen gave St. Norbert a 3-2 lead before Byran Yim tied the game. Adrian led 4-3 after a goal by Jeremy Olinyk but St. Norbert tied it again on a goal by Erik Cooper. The game was rugged throughout as the two teams combined for 11 infractions. Saturday’s game was just as tight, only goals were tougher to come by. Ross Pavek scored the game winner for the Green Knights, ending Adrian’s impressive unbeaten streak at 16. Michael Hill also scored for the Green Knights. Daniel Lisi scored the lone goal for the Bulldogs. The two teas combined for 11 penalties and Adrian held a 32-15 advantage in shots. Adrian is now 15-2-1 overall and 11-2-1 in the conference. St. Norbert is 14-2-1 overall and 10-2 in the conference. T.J. Black made 31 saves for the Green Knights. Tyler Parks tallied 13 saves for Adrian … Marian capped off a sweep of Lake Forest over the weekend with an 8-3 win. The Sabres, ranked No. 15 in the nation, have swept the last three series they have played and are riding a six-game win streak at the moment. Jake Howie and Warren Carter both scored two goals apiece to pave the way. Howe also dished out three assists on a night when he came through with his third multi-goal game of the season. Mike Gudmanson racked up 19 saves as he earned his third win of the season. He is 3-3. The Sabres are 11-5-3 overall and 9-4-1 in the NCHA. Lake Forest is 6-11 overall and 4-10 in the conference. Marian scored five goals in the first two periods to earn a 5-2 win over the Foresters Friday. Curtis Lewington scored his first career goal in the win. Carter tallied his fourth goal of the season and Derek Thorogood dished out four assists. Mike Baldwin made 14 saves for his eighth win. Ian Pichel and Justin Pelock scored for Lake Forest.

WIAC

Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Wisconsin-Eau Claire battled in a top 10 showdown Friday and the Blugolds used an overtime goal to pull off the win at home. Patrick Moore scored the game winner for eighth-ranked Eau Claire. It was one three goals for Moore. Jake Hopfner and Bryan Sinz also scored for Eau Claire, which improved to 12-5-2 overall and to 2-2 in the WIAC. Adam Knochenmus, the team’s leading goal scoring threat, racked up four assists as the Blugolds snapped a two-game losing streak. Knochenmus has tallied 16 goals and 12 assists on the year. The fourth-ranked Pointers erased a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead on goals by Jono Davis, Kyle Sharkey and Trace Strahle. Sharkey scored twice in the game … Stevens Point bounced back Saturday with a thrilling 4-3 win over No. 13 Wisconsin-River Falls. Alex Kromm punched in the game-winner with 14 seconds as the Pointers erased a two-goal deficit. The win ended the Falcons’ 11-game unbeaten streak. Stephan Beauvais scored the other goal during the comeback. Logan Lemirande also scored for Stevens Point, which improved to 13-4-1 overall and 2-2 in the WIAC. Mike Dietrich, Danny Hamburg and Taylor Burden all scored for the Falcons, who are 11-4-3 and 3-1 in the conference. Stevens Point has won seven of its last eight games. The loss was the first for River Falls since Nov. 21 when it fell 2-1 to the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

East picks: Jan. 21-26

The level of competition across all of the conferences has simply been outstanding.

No, I am not saying that in any way to justify my picks being just over the .500 mark in recent weeks. The old adage of any team being able to win on any given night is the reality these days and the scoreboard each week clearly reflects the need not to take any opponent lightly.

The picks for last week missed out on a couple of surprising results, leaving me just above the .500 mark at 4-3-0 (.571) for the weekend. That brings the season record to 32-22-7 (.582), which has me trending down just from the 60 percent success threshold. Never fearful, this week brings more opportunity to change momentum.

Here are my picks for the East this week:

Thursday, Jan. 21

Southern New Hampshire @ Stonehill
This NE-10 battle may be critical as teams are jockeying for just four positions in the D-II tournament starting about a month from now. Wins and points are critical and the home team has just enough to eke out the win against the Penmen – Stonehill 4, SNHU 3.

Friday, Jan. 22

Neumann @ Utica
The atmosphere at Utica makes playing a game a challenge for any visitor and the Pioneers love to make the most of their home-ice advantage. Neumann won’t be intimidated by the crowd, so expect an empty-netter to be needed to send the crowd home happy – Utica 4, Neumann 2.

Amherst @ Hamilton
Rob Haberbusch has Hamilton playing some very sound hockey right now and conversely, Jack Arena’s Lord Jeffs are trying to find their offensive game. The battle between the travel partners could continue the Continentals rise to the top of the NESCAC standings – Hamilton 2, Amherst 1.

Southern Maine @ University of New England
TheNor’easters have been getting balanced scoring and good goaltending. That’s two critical elements to winning hockey games so expect the strong play to continue on the “big sheet” in their home rink – UNE 4, Southern Maine 3.

Saturday, Jan. 23

Middlebury @ Bowdoin
This is still one of the best rivalries in D-III so throw out the records when they play each other. The Panthers let a 4-1 lead slip away on the opening weekend of the season, so expect things to be played a little tighter in this one at “The Sid” – Middlebury 2, Bowdoin 1.

Suffolk @ Salve Regina
This ECAC Northeast game finds two teams battling for one of those home-ice playoff positions. That is a strong motivator for points and the home team has been making big plays when needed in recent games – Salve Regina 3, Suffolk 2.

Tuesday, Jan. 26

Geneseo @ Oswego
The Knights and the Lakers have been looking for that run, that consistency in their game to start that second-half run in SUNYAC play. Expect this one to be tight with neither team wanting to make a crucial mistake – Geneseo 3, Oswego 2.

The number of weekends and games is dwindling so now is the time to truly gear up for that stretch run and make sure you are playing your best hockey when it matters most – drop the puck!

Weekend West picks: Jan. 22-23

The college hockey season is flying by and it’s time to take a stab at making predictions for some of the games on the schedule this week.

The featured game, of course, is the showdown between top-ranked St. Norbert and No. 2 Adrian.

Concordia (Minn.) and Augsburg square off in a key MIAC battle and Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the favorite in the WIAC, will take on Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Wisconsin-River Falls over the weekend.

St. John’s (6-9-2, 4-4) vs. Bethel (2-10-2, 1-5)

The Johnnies are just 2-5-1 at home and have a golden opportunity to get their third home win of the season this weekend. Huba Sekesi leads the offense with six goals and seven assists, while Sean Lang has come through with five goals and three assists. Saxton Soley is 3-8-2 in 14 starts this year. He owns a 2.61 GAA.

Bethel is coming off a big week after earning a tie against River Falls and beating Superior. The win was the first for the Royals since November. Travis Payne will need to be at his best for the Royals to win. He scored six goals last week and has 10 goals on the season. Payne has also dished out five assists.

St. John’s, 4-2.

Augsburg (9-6, 5-1) vs. Concordia (Minn.) (7-7-1, 5-1)

Augsburg is looking to get back on track after dropping its last two games. The Auggies enter the weekend just three points out of first in the conference standings. Nate Flynn leads the Augsburg attack with 10 goals and 10 assists while Rory Vesel has come through with a goal and 12 assists. Jordyn Kaufer has been solid in goal, winning eight games and making 292 saves.

Concordia is also in second place and needs to take advantage of being on its home ice for this series. The Cobbers are 2-2 at home and are led by Jon Grebosky, who has come through with eight goals and 10 assists. Alex Reichle is 7-7 on the year in goal and has made 385 saves. Goaltending could be the difference in this one.

Concordia, 5-3, Augsburg, 4-3

Adrian (14-1-1, 10-1-1) vs. St. Norbert (13-1-1, 9-1-0)

It doesn’t get any bigger in the regular season than a showdown between the the top teams in the country. There will no doubt be a playoff feel to this one as the Bulldogs and Green Knights square off in a pivotal NCHA battle.

Adrian owns the longest unbeaten streak in the nation at any level of college hockey, getting through its last 15 games without a loss. The stretch includes 11 consecutive wins. Mathew Thompson leads the conference in goals with 14. He has also dished out 14 assists. The Bulldogs have scored 92 goals in all while allowing only 30.

St. Norbert has won five consecutive games and is unbeaten in its last 13 games overall. The Green Knights feature one of the top goaltenders in the country in Tony Kujava, who is 10-0-0 with a conference-best 1.07 GAA. St. Norbert has given up only 19 goals all year while scoring 75.

This series will be a test of wills and while at least one tie is likely, I’m guessing it ends in a split.

St. Norbert, 3-2; Adrian, 5-4.

St. Scholastica (9-4-2, 7-3) vs. Lawrence (6-8-1, 5-4-1)

The Saints head out on the road for two games against the Vikings for a key NCHA series. They have played well away from home this year, fashioning a 4-2-1 record. Brandon Millin is having a solid year, scoring 11 goals and dishing out 10 assists, while Dylan Nowakowski has come through with five goals and 17 assists. If those two are on top of their games, the Saints will be tough to stop.

Lawrence heads into the weekend with momentum, having won its last two games. The Vikings are 4-3 at home and have an opportunity to make a statement against a nationally ranked opponent. Renato Engler is having a great year, tallying seven goals and 10 assists in 15 games. Mattias Soderqvist is 6-6 with a 3.80 GAA.

Lawrence, 3-2; St. Scholastica, 5-2.

Stevens Point (12-3-1, 1-1) vs. Eau Claire (11-4-2, 1-1)

This matchup pits two of the best in the nation as Stevens Point comes in ranked third in the country while Eau Claire is 10th. The Pointers are riding a six-game win streak, scoring four or more goals in each of those wins. Joe Kalisz and Lawrence Cornellier have fueled the attack with 12 and 11 goals, respectively. They have combined for 20 assists as well.

Eau Claire has won four of five, with two of those games being decided by one goal. Adam Knochenmus has been sensational offensively, punching in 16 goals and dishing out eight assists. Garrett Clement has come through with six goals and 14 assists.

Eau Claire, 5-4.

River Falls (11-4-3, 2-0) vs. Stevens Point (12-3-1, 1-1)

The Pointers will be on their home ice for this one. They have lost only once there all season. Goaltending could be the difference in this matchup. Max Milosek has started 12 games and is 9-2-1 on the year. He owns a 1.99 GAA.

River Falls is unbeaten in its last 10, winning eight times during that stretch, and Tanner Milliron has helped lead the way with solid play between the pipes. He is 9-4-3 with a 1.78 GAA. Kyle Gattelaro anchors the offense with seven goals and seven assists.

Stevens Point, 5-3.

Weekend wrap: Jan. 17

Trevor Fleurent scored the overtime winner Friday for the University of New England to upset Norwich and keep the Nor’easters unbeaten in their last 10 games, including six wins in a row that have vaulted them into fourth place in the NEHC standings. (photo: David Bates/Fotografix Studio).

So we are already halfway through January and the conference competition is heating up with many leaders are being challenged by teams looking to make their presence known.

Nonconference games, while not worth points in the standings, are important in building a resume for national consideration, but more importantly, building a level of consistency that will help any team compete for conference glory over the final weeks of the season.

Upsets abounded again this week and the biscuit winners really earned their recognition.

Here is the East recap:

ECAC Northeast
Four different goal scorers and 25 saves from Kevin Aldridge moved Endicott closer to league leader Nichols, who dropped their first game in conference play to Suffolk by a 5-2 score. Justin Selep scored two goals, including one shorthanded, to back senior Brandon Smolarek’s 32 saves in moving Suffolk into a tie at the top on points, while the Bison have a game in hand on the Rams.

Becker’s Nicholas McKee scored the game winning goal just 33 seconds after Kyle Lebrun had tied the game for Wentworth early in the third period. Tyler Stepke made the lead stand up with 14 third period saves.

ECAC West
Hobart and Elmira joined ECAC Northeast schools Salve Regina and Curry in the first Vineyard Classic played on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Hobart took the title by downing Curry in the opening round by a score of 4-2 before downing Salve Regina in the championship game by a 2-1 score. The Seahawks earned the place in the final by downing Elmira 3-1. Special teams and goaltending owned the first two periods of the final before Vincent Russo’s goal with just under three minutes in regulation provided the winner for the Statesmen by a 2-1 score.

In a nonconference game that saw a total of 86 shots on goal, Mike Davis set up linemate Jory Mullin before he scored his second of the game for Neumann with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to earn a hard fought 5-5 tie with Geneseo.

MASCAC
Plymouth State earned a 4-2 win over Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Thursday, but stumbled on Saturday to a Salem State team that is hot on their trail for the top spot in the conference standings. The Vikings outshot PSU by a 41-28 margin and broke open a tie game with three unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes for the win.

Westfield State dropped four important points with a 10-4 loss to visiting Fitchburg State before losing to UMD on Saturday by a 4-2 score. Cameron Snyder finished with six points for the Falcons as they scored nine times in the first two periods of play against the Owls. Linemates John Celli and Nat Rojas chipped in with five and four points, respectively, as the big line combined for four goals and 15 points.

NE-10
In one of the wilder games of the weekend, Morrisville won a 7-6 overtime battle with Southern New Hampshire that saw the home team rally from 5-0 and 6-2 deficits in the third period to force overtime where Danny Liscio scored the winner for the Mustangs. Darren Young was the offensive star with four goals in the game, which also were his first four goals on the season.

NEHC
As is often the case, the travel partner games between Babson and Massachusetts-Boston usually find the visitor taking the win on each of the two nights. This year was no different as Babson handed the Beacons their first loss in conference play with a 3-2 win at the Clark Center on Friday night. Saturday saw the Beacons return the favor with a 4-1 win led by two goals from Colin Larkin.

UNE had another four-point weekend, including an overtime upset of Norwich at Kreitzberg Arena by a score of 4-3. The Nor’easters rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force the extra session where Trevor Fleurent won it with under a minute remaining in overtime. UNE followed the big win up with a 4-1 over St. Michael’s, while Norwich had to go to overtime for a second game in a row where they eked out a 1-0 win over Southern Maine.

Another crazy game on the weekend saw Skidmore’s Anthony Bird score the game tying goal with the extra attacker on the ice and just half a second left on the clock in a 6-6 tie with New England College.

NESCAC
Trinity took an important four points in conference play by downing Colby 4-3 and Bowdoin 3-1. Ethan Holdaway and Ryan Cole potted two goals each on the weekend for the Bantams.

Amherst broke back into the win column with a 4-2 win over Tufts where four different players scored goals for the Lord Jeffs.

Wesleyan picked up a pair of points with yet another pair of ties, giving them a total of seven ties on the season. The Cardinals rallied from two goals down to tie Bowdoin 3-3 behind three points from James Kline and scored an extra-attacker goal on Saturday with just 46 seconds remaining to tie Colby 2-2.

SUNYAC
Third-ranked Plattsburgh made a road trip through NESCAC for a pair of nonconference games against Middlebury and Williams. Friday saw the Cardinals’ Michael Radisa score twice to break open a scoreless tie in a 3-0 win. On Saturday, Plattsburgh outshoot Williams by a 45-10 margin, including 19-1 in the first period, but they could not get enough past the Ephs’ Michael Pinios, who made 43 saves and got some help from David Italiano, who scored twice for the home team, including the game winner less than one minute into overtime.

Weekend Biscuits
Michael Pinios, Williams – the Ephs’ goaltender stood up to an offensive barrage from Plattsburgh by making 43 saves, including 18 in the first period where his team was outshot 19-1 to keep them in the game. Williams rallied for a 3-2 overtime win.

Cameron Snyder, Fitchburg State – the forward led his line with two goals and four assists for six points in the Falcons 10-4 win over Westfield State on Thursday night. Snyder’s line finished the game with a 4-11-15 line in the boxscore.

Darren Young, Morrisville – the forward broke into the goal scoring column in a big way netting his first four goals on the season in a 7-6 win for the Mustangs over Southern New Hampshire.

WEST WRAP – Brian Lester

MIAC

In one of the biggest games of the weekend, St. Thomas knocked off nationally ranked Eau Claire 2-0 to make a statement in the non-conference showdown. It marked the first time all season the seventh-ranked Blugolds have been kept off the scoreboard. Joe Morris stopped all 36 of the shots he faced en route to the win. The Tommies capitalized on a pair of power play goals to earn the victory. Willie Faust scored one in the first period and Joakim Broberg scored one in the second. St. Thomas improved to 9-6-2 on the year while Eau Claire fell to 11-4-2 … St. John’s earned a split in its weekend series with St. Olaf, winning 7-2 Saturday. The Johnnies fell 4-2 to the Oles Friday. St. John’s scored five third-period goals en route to the win in the series finale. Daniel Tripicchio dished out a career-best three assists. Kevin Becker and Huba Sekesi each came through with a goal and an assist. The goal was the sixth of the year for Sekesi. Saxton Soley made 19 saves and is now 4-9-2 on the year. The win was the 42nd of his career. He ranks third all-time in school history in wins. In the 4-2 loss Friday, Nick Marsh scored twice for the Oles. Ole Stetsaas also scored twice for St. Olaf. Connor Kelly and Sean Lang both scored for the Johnnies … Bethel came through with a 6-2 win over Wisconsin-Superior Saturday to end its five-game winless streak. The Royals raced out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. Travis Payne fueled the early attack as he scored three first-period goals en route to the hat trick. It caps off a big week where he scored a total of six goals, with five coming in the first period of play. Jesse Garcia made 33 saves for the Royals to earn his second win of the year. The win for Bethel was its second of the season as it improves to 2-10-2.

St. Scholastica and goaltender Tyler Bruggeman shut out MSOE last Friday night (photo: St. Scholastica Athletics).

NCHA

Adrian continued its dominance of the NCHA as it swept Lake Forest over the weekend. The Bulldogs topped the Foresters 5-1 Friday and finished off the sweep with an 8-3 win. Mathew Thompson came through with a hat trick Saturday, scoring two of his three goals during a five-goal second period. The second-ranked Bulldogs own the nation’s longest unbeaten streak at any level of college hockey, getting through their last 15 games without a loss. They are 14-1-1 overall and 10-1-1 in the NCHA. Thompson also dished out an assist in the win. Dillon Kelley made his second career start in goal for the Bulldogs and racked up 25 saves. It’s a new career-high for the sophomore goaltender. Thompson scored a goal and dished out two assists in Friday’s victory. Tyler Parks won his fourth game in goal, making a season-best 32 saves. The stage is now set for a showdown with top-ranked St. Norbert this coming weekend. Both games will be played in Wisconsin … The Milwaukee School of Engineering salvaged a split in its weekend series with St. Scholastica, winning 3-2 Saturday. An empty-net goal by Clint Garris in the third period served as the game-winner for the Raiders, who are now 10-5- overall and 5-5 in the conference. Nick LaRue and Omar Mullan also scored goals for the Raiders. The Saints came through with a 2-0 win over the Raiders in the opening game of the series. Tyler Bruggeman got the shutout as he racked up 20 saves. It was his eighth win of the year. Keegan Bruce and Derek Sutliffe both scored goals for the Saints, who improved to 9-3-1 overall and 7-2 in the conference … Top-ranked St. Norbert blasted Finlandia 7-1 and 8-0 to complete a weekend sweep in NCHA action. Pijus Rulevicius scored twice for the Green Knights Saturday, pushing his goal total to nine for the season. Nick LeSage also scored a pair of goals Saturday. St. Norbert is 13-1-1 overall and 9-1 in the conference. The Green Knights are unbeaten in their last 13 games. They have won five consecutive games.

WIAC

Wisconsin-River Falls skated to a 3-0 win over Gustavus Adolphus Saturday in a nonconference game. The Falcons improved to 11-4-3 on the year. Joe Drapluk, Christian George and Kyle Gattelaro all scored goals for River Falls. George tallied an assist on the goal by Gattelaro. Tanner Milliron was again impressive as he made 18 saves to nail down the shutout win. He is now 9-4-3 on the season. He has come up with two shutout wins in the last three games. The Falcons are unbeaten in their last seven games … Wisconsin-Stevens Point cruised to a convincing 4-1 win over Augsburg. The win was the sixth in the row for the reigning national runner-up. Tanner Karty scored twice in the victory. He has three goals in all this season. Jacob Barber and Jono Davis also scored for the Pointers, who finish 8-0 against the MIAC this season. Max Milosek earned the win in goal by making 25 saves. It was his ninth victory of the year … Wisconsin-Stout pushed its win streak to three games Saturday with a 6-3 win over St. Mary’s. The Blue Devils scored five or more goals for the third consecutive game. Jake Useldinger struck for two goals in the victory. He now has eight on the year. The Blue Devils improved to 9-4-3 on the year. They opened the weekend with a 5-3 win over St. Thomas. Gavin Smith scored his first collegiate goal in the victory. Useldinger also scored in the win.

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