The last picks for 2012 were not all bad, as a 3-1-0 (.750) record closed out the calendar year to a 16-8-5 (.638) overall record. That is not near the 70-percent level I aspire to hit, but if anyone thinks there is such a thing as an upset anymore, I strongly advise them to take a look at the results on any given weekend, where it doesn’t matter much about the league you play in or the venue — the competition has been fierce. Just ask Trinity and Middlebury about that after this past weekend.
Have a mix on the schedule to open 2013, including some league games, nonconference match-ups, and bitter rivalries, so I will be picking some bonus games through next Tuesday. Nine games on my slate this week, and not backing off some real tough match-ups.
Here are the year’s opening selections.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Bowdoin at Amherst
The Lord Jeffs may have the home ice advantage, as well as the second half opening wins in the Cardinal Classic last weekend against Elmira and Plattsburgh on the road. Bowdoin exits the break as one of only three unbeatens in D-III, and they are really going to have to fight to keep the streak intact against a very disciplined and defensive Amherst squad. Last one probably is an empty-netter — it’s that close. Bowdoin 4-2
Williams at Trinity
The Bantams probably would like to have last weekend back following two nonconference defeats against Nichols and Becker from the ECAC Northeast. Williams has been a very pleasant surprise in the NESCAC this season, and looks to continue its hot play from the first half in this key league match-up. It is another nail-biter for coach Kangas and company, but two points are two points, no matter how you get them. Williams 3-2
Colby at Hamilton
It is a long trip from Maine for the Mules, who face a Continentals team coming off a tight but satisfying win over Curry last weekend. Joe Quattrocchi has been solid in goal for Hamilton, and Michael DiMare is finally back in goal-scoring mode, which is a great thing for the Hamilton offense. Colby is looking to play a full 60-minute game, and this one could go 65. Think the home team pulls it out. Hamilton 2-1
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Middlebury at Trinity
Yes, just call me a glutton for punishment after picking both of these teams last weekend, only to see two nonconference losses for each of the NESCAC combatants. The Panther power play stumbled a bit last weekend, but that is not likely to last long with the offensive talent assembled at Midd. Everyone is trying to get it going in the New Year, and the visitors just have enough in this one. Middlebury 4-3
SUNY-Canton at Tufts
The Jumbos could use a win to start out the second half, and SUNY-Canton may be just what the doctor ordered to revive Tufts’ game. Nothing is ever easy, so the Jumbos will have to work for the win, but the offense is up to that challenge in taking the nonconference match-up. Tufts 5-1
Williams at Wesleyan
Not sure that anyone in these travel partner games in Connecticut should be thinking about a four-point weekend, but the Ephs might just pull it off. Below the dots, there aren’t many better teams than Williams, and that will press the defense and goaltending of the Cardinals at home. Don’t be surprised if this one ends in a tie including the overtime, but I will go and pick a winner anyway. It’s a one-goal hockey game. Williams 3-2
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Southern Maine at Colby
Both of these teams are looking to get it going in the second half, and this mid-week game comes on the heels of road trips for both teams. The home team had some major mileage credit over the weekend, but don’t expect any “bus-lag” from the Mules, who take care of business at Alfond. Colby 4-3
University of New England at Bowdoin
All four Maine programs are in action against each other on this Tuesday night, so it makes you wonder what a revival of the Downeast Classic might look like some day if the teams could find a date for an in-state tournament. The Nor’easters have their work cut out for them in stopping the speedy Polar Bears. No speed bump for Bowdoin at “The Sid.” Bowdoin 6-2
Norwich at Middlebury
It is one of the oldest and most intense rivalries in college hockey and if this game lives up to the final of the Primelink tournament from November, we have an instant classic on our hands. The Cadets are experienced, deep, and poised. The Panthers are young and still searching for consistency and poise. This one will be fun regardless of the outcome, but it’s the Cadets who take bragging rights on the road in another tight battle. Norwich 3-2
It’s a new year with more action, drama, and excitement to come. The schools and students may be on break still, but the game action is not in any kind of break mode. The holidays are over — drop the puck!