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College Hockey:
ECAC Northeast picks: Nov. 16

It appears that Western New England means business this season. While other programs have garnered headlines for hiring new coaches, and some others have made noise by snagging preseason accolades, the Golden Bears are letting their play do the talking.

After dropping the season opener to Westfield State, 4-3, in nonconference play on Nov. 2, it’s been lights-out ever since. Western has since won three consecutive games, including its first two ECAC Northeast contests, 3-2 over Wentworth on Nov. 8 and 6-3 over Curry Thursday.

The big difference so far this year has been on the backline. Coach Greg Heffernan has seen an upgrade on defense, a unit that allowed 3.19 goals per game last season. In their three-game winning streak, the Golden Bears have allowed just six goals total.

So, the home team appears in pretty good shape as it gets set to host Salve Regina on Saturday night. The Seahawks stopped Suffolk, 7-4, on Tuesday, but have yet to win a road game, and this seems like too tough a spot for them as they will also play on Friday night.

Look for the Golden Bears to continue their winning ways. Western New England 5-2.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the week in the ECAC Northeast.

Friday, Nov. 16

Neumann at Salve Regina
Offense was a problem for Neumann in a weekend set vs. Utica, both losses. But Utica is a different animal, and the Knights, who opened with a 5-3 win over Elmira before scoring just three goals in two games vs. the Pioneers, could get it right vs. the Seahawks. Neumann 4-2

Saturday, Nov. 17

Wentworth at Suffolk
Terrific match-up in Charlestown, Mass., as last season’s worst team faces last season’s best team. But Wentworth, the defending conference champion and the pick to win it all this season again, is only 1-1 in the league, and Suffolk, after just three wins total last year, is already 3-1 overall. Plenty of buzz for sure, and should be a quality game. In the end, the power and poise of the Leopards should prevail, but it’ll be fun regardless. Wentworth 6-4

Curry at Nichols
T.J. Manastersky is 1-1 as the new coach at Curry, and with six periods in the league now under his belt, and perhaps a better understanding of the style and speed of play in it, we might be looking at an upset here. Nichols is 4-0 with impressive numbers, but the schedule hasn’t been the most difficult. It gets a little tougher on Saturday. Curry 3-2

Becker at Johnson and Wales
The Wildcats are searching for answers at 0-4, and have allowed at least five goals in every game. Not a good recipe for early-season success. At 0-2 in the league, Becker should be able to right the ship here. Becker 5-3

Monday, Nov. 19

Plymouth State at Wentworth
There will be a little less hype surrounding Wentworth’s Monday game as opposed to the Saturday game, but that’s where coach R.J. Tolan’s troops thrive. Don’t expect them to dwell on the game vs. Suffolk, win or lose, and figure on a quality effort at home here on a weeknight. Wentworth 4-2.

Tuesday, Nov. 20

Assumption at Johnson and Wales
The Greyhounds, at 1-5, have been squeezing their sticks a little too much. They haven’t scored more than two goals in any of the last four games, and seem a perfect elixir for the Wildcats. Johnson and Wales 4-2.

Western New England at Manhattanville
A 2-1-1 record isn’t great, but we like the Valiants’ moxie early on, as they battled Hobart in a two-game set, and responded with consecutive wins afterward. Perhaps they catch the Golden Bears at a good time. Manhattanville 5-4

Suffolk at Southern New Hampshire
The Penmen have played just one game this season — a 4-1 loss to Stonehill — and it might take some time to find their legs. Perfect chance for the Rams to snare a road win. Suffolk 3-1

Curry at Tufts
The Jumbos finished a game over .500 last season and have set the bar high for this season. They don’t open the schedule until tonight though, so this game vs. the Colonels will be their third in five days. Tough chore. We’ll stick with Curry here to grab a non-league win. Curry 2-1

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