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College Hockey:
NESCAC picks: March 1

The quarterfinal picks finished at 3-1-0 (.750) last weekend, and the dreaded 4/5 game did me in. Admittedly, I should never rule out Middlebury come tournament time as the Panthers have been in the title game 11 of 12 times in the NESCAC tournament’s history. My overall record is at 51-20-8 (.696), so I have the 70 percent target in sight and will need to be perfect in the final games of the playoffs to end up there for the season.

Here are the selections for the final four games, where three teams look to recapture the NESCAC crown and one team looks to earn their first conference title.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

No. 3 Trinity at No. 2 Williams
The regular season may be telling in this one, based on the low-scoring games played both times between the two teams. Williams doesn’t score a lot of goals, and certainly didn’t against Trinity this season. The teams playing after this one on Saturday may want to wait on putting their skates on, because this one could go to overtime or multiple overtimes with as good a defense and goaltending both teams bring to the ice. The Bantams got it done in the extra session last weekend, and history repeats itself here. Trinity 2-1

No. 5 Middlebury at No. 1 Bowdoin
The Polar Bears match-up pretty well, and have the home-ice advantage, but somehow I don’t think that is the only message coach Terry Meagher is sending to his team in preparation for Saturday’s semifinal game with the Panthers. History in the playoffs favors the visitors, and right on schedule, the Panthers, behind junior Louis Belisle are playing some of their best hockey of the season. It’s close, and an empty-net goal seals the deal for the home team in this one, but not without a scare. Bowdoin 4-2

Sunday, March 3, 2013

No. 3 Trinity at No. 1 Bowdoin
It’s offense vs. defense in this one, and in the playoffs, one should always go with defense and goaltending right? Not this time! The Polar Bears roll speed and balance and attack from all parts of the ice, and that puts a lot of pressure on an opponent’s ability to play its own game effectively. Bowdoin has been the class of the league since the opening weekend of the season, and they achieve the mission with a hard-fought win against a very determined opponent. Bowdoin 3-2

It is going to be a great weekend of hockey, and I for one will not be surprised if the games go completely the other way based on how closely-matched the teams are in talent. The effort and sacrifices made on the ice this weekend are the difference-makers — drop the puck!

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