Well, the time has finally arrived in not only the MASCAC, but also all of the men’s NCAA D-III conferences. It’s time for playoff hockey.
The MASCAC postseason tournament kicks off this Saturday with six of its seven teams ready to battle (Framingham State did not qualify) for the chance the hoist the MASCAC championship trophy.
Plymouth State, last year’s champ, and Massachusetts-Dartmouth have received first round byes into the semifinals after finishing in first and second place, respectively.
Salem State finished just a bit short of Mass.-Dartmouth to claim the third spot, while Westfield State nabs fourth, even though both finished with the same amount of points (Salem State finished with one more conference win).
Fitchburg State, which turned on the heat at the end of the season, and Worcester State round out the final two spots in that order.
Everything kicks off this Saturday, Feb. 23, as Salem State takes on Worcester State and Westfield State plays Fitchburg State.
Let’s take a look at the picks.
No. 5 Fitchburg State Falcons (10-13-2, 9-8-1) at No. 4 Westfield State Owls (14-8-3, 9-6-3)
The Owls have been one of the most surprising teams in all of D-III, as they enjoyed one of their most successful seasons in school history. Westfield State is led by sophomore forward TJ Powers (13-17-30) and sophomore netminder Ian Perrier (2.87 goals-against average). For Fitchburg State, senior forward Joe Caveney leads the league in goals (16) and points (45), while junior goalie Randy Wolcott has been strong of late, finishing with a 2.79 GAA. Look for this one to be a close, but offensive type of game. With the success the Owls had this year, and the way the Falcons have been playing as of late, I can see this one going back and forth. It has been a storybook year for Westfield State, and the story continues. Westfield State 5-4
No. 6 Worcester State Lancers (6-16-3, 3-12-3) at No. 3 Salem State Vikings (13-11-1, 10-7-1)
Salem State finished only a couple games above .500 in both its conference and overall records, but is still a team that can be dangerous, and is experienced in the postseason. However, if the news is true about sophomore forward Chad Goodwin, then that is a big blow to this team offensively. Goodwin has not been in the lineup since Feb. 14, which also the date when an incident took place leading to an arrest. There has been no word from Salem State about Goodwin and his status on the team or involvement. Junior forward Kyle Phelan has stepped his game up, leading the charge with nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points.
Worcester State can easily play spoiler here. Even though Salem State has won without Goodwin, this can be a nice spot for the Lancers to upset the Vikings. Worcester State has a nice mix of young and old players, with more on the younger side, and will look to freshman netminder Sal Tucci to carry them deep. With everything going on, I don’t think it’ll slow down Salem State with its experience and depth. Salem State 4-1
Picks to date: 26-10-7 (59 points)