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College Hockey:
ECAC Northeast picks: Jan. 11

Johnson and Wales coach Erik Noack is big on team chemistry, and bonding, and formulating one happy ship, moving forward.

He was a part of that during his playing days at RIT after all, and it’s what he’s building in Rhode Island with the Wildcats.

One way you get to that point is through road trips. Go away from campus, get away from the everyday grind, and be with your teammates, focused solely on hockey. Not a bad concept.

“Loved road trips back when I was a player,” Noack said. “You need those.”

Well, Johnson and Wales is on the cusp of one, as this weekend, the Wildcats play at Buffalo State on Friday and Saturday. But Friday games can be tough on road teams. It’s the end of the week, the home team — and the home crowd, as well — might be a little more jacked up for it, and it might play that way. We think the Bengals will fall into that category here.

But after a night’s rest, and the Wildcats get just a little more comfortable in their surroundings, you can expect a strong bounce-back effort on Saturday from the road team, as it looks to come home on a positive note, headed into the heart of conference play.

With that, look for a split in Buffalo. Friday: Buffalo State 5-2, Saturday: Johnson and Wales 3-1

Utica at Western New England
Interesting weekend for the Golden Bears, who host a winnable game Friday vs. Potsdam. But Sunday is a tall task, as the Pioneers, ranked No. 8, stroll into town. Utica is 11-2, has won six in a row headed into the weekend, and might be too much to handle in this spot. Utica 6-5

Tufts at Wentworth
If you talk to coaches around the ECAC Northeast, they continue to think a strong flurry is still in this Wentworth team. The talent is there, the motivation is too, and for most in and around the league, it all appears like just a matter of time before the Leopards take off. A Tuesday date vs the 4-5-1 Jumbos should do the trick. Wentworth 8-2

Last week: 2-1; Overall: 18-10-1.

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