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College Hockey:
D-III picks: March 6 (Brian Lester)

It’s hard to believe it’s already NCAA tournament time, but for 11 Division III teams, the chase for the national championship begins this week.

Three games are on the schedule for tonight, and I will be taking aim at making predictions for the first two rounds. I didn’t do too bad making picks in the regular season for Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games. We’ll see how effective my crystal ball is as I make my postseason predictions.

First Round – Wednesday, March 6 (Campus sites)

Babson vs. Wentworth
Babson is coming off its fifth ECAC East Championship and is in the NCAA tourney for the first time since 2009. The Beavers will need goalie Zeke Testa, the ECAC East tournament MVP, to step up to be successful tonight. He made 39 saves in a 2-1 championship win. Wentworth reached the tournament a year ago, and that experience could be the difference. The Leopards won the ECAC Northeast title, and Shaun Jameson (22 assists) could play a key role in their success. Both teams have momentum but Babson is at home. Babson 3-2

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. St. John’s
This will be a homecoming game for St. John’s goalie Saxton Soley, who has had a phenomenal freshman year and was Mr. Hockey in Wisconsin at Eau Claire High School in 2011. You know he is going to be on top of his game for this one, and if the Johnnies can continue their current offensive pace — they have outscored opponents 49-21 since a 5-1 loss to the Blugolds on Jan. 4 — they could be poised for an upset. The Blugolds are in the tournament for the first time since 1989, and Jordan Singer (20 goals) will be one to watch for Eau Claire. He needs to have a big game for Eau Claire to win. I’m going with an upset by the MIAC team. St. John’s 4-3

Bowdoin vs. Massachusetts-Dartmouth
Bowdoin tied the single-season mark for wins in a season with 22, and the Polar Bears are making their third trip to the tournament in the last four years. Dartmouth won only 12 games, and is playing in the tourney for the fourth time. The Polar Bears seem to have the edge. They have won three consecutive games, and are playing on their home ice. Five players have scored at least 10 goals, including 17 from Daniel Weiniger, and if they can be balanced tonight, they should be in good shape. The Corsairs are 1-3 in NCAA tourney play, but have won their last three games. I give the edge to the Polar Bears. Bowdoin 3-1

Quarterfinal Round – Saturday, March 9 (Campus sites)
 
Adrian vs. Oswego State
The Bulldogs begin tournament play Saturday, and are coming off a win in the Harris Cup. Adrian has a 17-game unbeaten streak, and shouldn’t have a problem keeping that going at home this weekend. Oswego won the SUNYAC title and has won 23 games as well, but with the Bulldogs playing at home and seemingly in contention for a national title, I give the edge to Adrian. Adrian 5-3

Bowdoin vs. Utica
Utica will play the winner of the Bowdoin-Mass.-Dartmouth game, and will be the host for the game on Saturday. The Pioneers have the advantage of a bye, and won a program-best 20 games this year. Bowdoin will have a tough time winning this game on the road. Utica 5-3

St. John’s vs. St. Norbert
St. Norbert is the two-time defending champion, and should be in good shape regardless of who it plays. The Green Knights, who will take on either Eau Claire or St. John’s, are making their 14th trip to the tournament, and their experience is going to be tough to top. They average 4.1 goals per game, and will roll. St. Norbert 6-3

Babson vs. Norwich
Norwich will host the winner of the Babson-Wentworth game, and is making its fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Cadets won 23 games, and are looking for their first national title since 2010 and their fourth national title overall. Norwich has scored 109 goals this year, and has allowed only 44. Norwich 5-2

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