Our gang of Division III columnists picks this week’s top games in D-III.
ECAC East – Tim Costello
The heavyweights in the conference have come out as expected, but there have been some week one and week two surprises already. More surprises to come in week three?
Here are my picks for the upcoming weekend:
Friday, November 15
Skidmore @ New England College
The Pilgrims got a split last weekend playing against two of the conference’s best teams and come home to face a team that also split its opening games last weekend. The small confines in Henniker play to the advantage of the home team, but only by a goal. NEC 4-3.
Norwich @ Southern Maine
The Huskies have not scored a goal against the Cadets in over a season, but haven’t given up much to the potent Cadet offense either. Looks like more of the same in a game that Cadets’ coach Mike McShane considers a challenge for his team in the early-season schedule. Norwich 3-0.
St. Michael’s @ UNE
This game has favored the Purple Knights in the past, but a lot of the experience that led to those wins has graduated and the hosts actually are the more experienced roster. Always like to win at home, the atmosphere in Biddeford will help the Nor’easters get the two points. UNE 4-2.
Saturday, November 16
Assumption @ Babson
The Beavers are off to a great start with strong goaltending defense and timely scoring from a balanced attack. That does not bode well for the visitors from the Northeast-10, who find themselves on the short end of this nonconference match-up. Babson 4-1.
Castleton @ New England College
The Moffatt era has begin for Castleton and opened auspiciously on home ice last weekend. Seeing how the team plays it on the road is another milestone for the new coach and his team gets a passing grade in this close contest. Castleton 4-3.
The early season is all about finding the parts that work together and building that solid 60 minute game – drop the puck!
ECAC Northeast – Nathan Fournier
Saturday, Nov. 16
Johnson and Wales at Curry
Both teams are coming off a Thursday-night game. Johnson and Wales is coming off a big victory over last year’s ECAC Northeast champion Wentworth last weekend and have freshman Stefan Brucato off to a good start leading the team in scoring prior to Thursday’s game against Suffolk with a goal and four assists. Curry has played a tough schedule so far with nonconference games against No. 10-ranked Babson and a victory over Westfield State. This game should be a good contest with Johnson and Wales coming up on top with the 5-3 victory.
Wentworth at Nichols
Two of the premier teams in the conference go at it. Wentworth has played the most games in the conference so far and off to a rocky start. They have shown their depth in terms of scoring, but the wins just haven’t come yet. Nichols is off to a very good start with sophomores Tyler Beasley and Frank Butler leading the way offensively. This should be another good game, but until someone figueres out Nichols goaltender Alex Larson, I think the Bison keep on winning, this time by a 3-2 margin.
Becker at Salve Regina
It’s been a tough go so far for the Becker Hawks. With two loses to MASCAC opponents Fitchburg State and Worcester State where they combined to only score twice in the two games, they finally got the offense going in the 5-4 loss to Western New England on Saturday. On the other hand, the Seahawks have had no problem finding the back of the net to start the season. I think that trend continues in a 5-1 win over the Hawks.
Western New England at Suffolk
The Golden Bears are another team that has gotten to a fast start offensively this season. With most of their scoring back from last season, it was expected for them to have a fast start. They haven’t blown anyone out and Becker hung around against them last weekend in the 5-4 overtime loss. Suffolk has only played two games this season, earning a 3-1 victory over Assumption and dropped a 6-3 decision to Salve Regina. They will need to get the power play going – just a 1-for-15 start prior to Thursday’s game versus Johnson and Wales. Western New England pulls this one out 6-4.
Tuesday, Nov. 19
Curry at Salve Regina
Curry will face their second straight Rhode Island school in Salve Regina. It’s another test for a team who is trying to find a rhythm. At the same time, they could catch the Seahawks sleeping as it would be their second straight game against a team who finished at the bottom of last year’s standings. If the Colonels can split, it will be a confidence booster. With that said, I think the Seahawks win 3-1.
Wednesday, Nov. 20
Johnson and Wales at Becker
The Hawks will have their hands full with Johnson and Wales. Both teams have struggled on the man-advantage, scoring three goals through the first two weeks of the season. I think the key to this game is Becker’s penalty kill, which is also off to a cold start. If they can tighten things up at that end, they can keep things close. I will go with the 2-1 victory for Becker.
Nichols at Suffolk
The Bison have a midweek trap game of their own against Suffolk. Alex Larson will get a lot of credit on how this team is playing defensively, but some of the credit goes to the defense in front of him. They have killed off all 13 power-play chances through the the first two games of the season. While a perfect penalty kill streak is going to be broken at some point, they can’t be giving teams 6-7 power-play chances a game. Bison come away with a 4-2 win.
Thursday, Nov. 21
Wentworth at Western New England
This will be a very good game that will go either way. Western New England will want to make a statement to the league that they will be a team to be this season. On the other end, Wentworth wants to show why they won the conference last season. Both teams are averaging over 36 shots per game and this game will be an offensive show. Wentworth takes it 5-4.
ECAC West – Dan Hickling
Friday, Nov. 15
No. 9 Utica (2-1-0, 3-1-0) @ Manhattanville (2-1-0, 2-1-0) – Manhattanville 3, Utica 2
Plenty is expected out of Manhattanville this year and an early-season win over the nationally-ranked Pioneers will do lots to justify those opinions. Utica is looking to right itself after falling at home to No. 8 Hobart.
Nazareth (0-2-1, 1-2-1) @ Neumann (0-2-1, 0-2-1) – Neumann 2, Nazareth 1
Both teams are looking for their first conference win and both are playing better than their records indicate. Give the Knights the home-ice edge.
MASCAC – Nathan Fournier
Saturday, Nov. 16
Worcester State at Fitchburg State
A rivalry game and it should be a good one with Worcester State off a hot start. The junior class has been driving most of the production for the Lancers. The defense has also been stellar for Worcester State. Both teams have been solid on the penalty kill. I think Fitchburg State pulls off a tight defensive game, 2-1.
Salem State at Framingham State
If we go by last year’s record, you would say Salem State would win this game. Since both teams have played two games when they meet up, this game could go either way. Salem State will rely on their veterans, while the Rams of Framingham State will rely on their underclassman as much as their upperclassman. I will take the veteran group this time around 4-1.
Plymouth State at Massachusetts-Dartmouth
The game of the weekend in the MASCAC. It’s a match-up of the regular-season champions versus the conference champion. Both teams will be playing their third game of the week when the teams meet on Saturday, so expect some tired legs in this contest. Plymouth State should come out on top with a 5-2 victory.
Thursday, Nov. 21
Worcester State at Framingham State
The Lancers will look to make their mark in conference after a strong start in nonconference games. The Rams are no pushover, though they did grab a big conference victory over Westfield State on Tuesday. Both teams were in the basement last year in the MASCAC last year. I expect both teams will be hungry, but I think Worcester State takes it 4-3.
UMass-Dartmouth at Salem State
A midweek clash between two of the top teams in the conference. Both teams have very few seniors on the roster, but make no mistake about it, they are two very skilled teams. It will be an highly-competitive game. When you have two evenly-matched teams, I think home-ice advantage will be the deciding factor, so I will take Salem State with the 3-2 victory.
Fitchburg State at Westfield State
This is an intriguing game. Fitchburg State will be playing its second game on the road this season after starting the year with five homes games in their first six. No one expected the Owls to start the year on a four-game losing streak. I think Westfield State will get it together offensively and come away with a 6-3 victory.
MIAC/WIAC – Brian Lester
Another season of predicting games begins and since several teams in the MIAC play against teams from the WIAC, I’m going to be crossing over with my picks as I cover both leagues.
I’m no hockey guru and I certainly wouldn’t put any money down in Vegas based on my picks, but I hope to at least be fairly successful as picking winners week after week. It all begins with this week’s picks. Here we go.
Friday, Nov. 15
Wisconsin-Superior at St. Mary’s
The Cardinals are 1-3 overall and really need to find a way to win this game against Superior at home. St. Mary’s is led by Bobby Thompson, who has two goals, and the Cardinals will need balanced scoring to get this win. Superior has dropped its first two games and no one has scored more than a goal for the Yellow Jackets. It will be tough to win this on the road. St. Mary’s 3-2.
Wisconsin-Stout at Augusburg
The Auggies have yet to lose a game and being at home should help their cause in continuing that unbeaten trend. Augsburg has punched in 14 goals and has allowed only seven. If the Auggies can be effective on both ends of the ice as they have been lately, they’ll be poised for the victory. Kevin O’Donnell has been very good for Stout, scoring three goals and dishing out four assists. If he plays well, Stout has a good chance at the win. Augsburg 4-3.
Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Hamline
Hamline will have its hands full against the defending national champions and the best it can probably hope for is a competitive game. Playing hard and competing against the Blugolds from start to finish could serve the Pipers well going forward this season. Hamline has scored just eight goals and has allowed 22. The Blugolds are too good on both ends of the ice, especially on defense where they have given up just three goals. Eau Claire 5-1.
Wisconsin-Stevens Point at St. Thomas
The Tommies face a crucial home test against one of the better teams in the nation and this showdown between two of the best teams in Division III could be a big tone-setter for the season. The Tommies are 4-0 and are going to need a strong showing from goalie Drew Fielding (1.49 GAA) to nail down this victory. The Pointers, though, have been very tough offensively, including getting five goals from Garrett Ladd, and that offense might be too much to overcome. Stevens Point 5-4.
Saturday, Nov. 16
Stevens Point at St. Mary’s
The Cardinals will be tested big-time. Stevens Point, though, is a team on a mission and will come out on top. Stevens Point, 5-2.
Eau Claire at Bethel
The Royals have struggled early this season, losing two of their first three games,and have managed only seven goals while allowing 10. Eau Claire has too much firepower for the Royals to handle and will roll. Eau Claire 6-2.
Stout at St. Thomas
The Tommies have a chance to pick up another big nonconference win and as long as the offense and defense are clicking on all cylinders, they will get the job done. St. Thomas 4-2.
St. Olaf at St. John’s
The Johnnies will be playing their first conference home game and will be determined to come through with a big win as they continue their quest toward another league championship. The Oles have managed only six goals on the year during an 0-4 start and have given up 18. The Johnnies, behind the play of stellar goalie Saxton Soley and a balanced offensive attack, will likely be tested, but should be able to hold off St. Olaf for the win. St. John’s 6-3.
NCHA – Katie Carito
Concordia (Wis.) at Adrian
I really like the way both teams are playing so far this season. The youthful Falcons are taking the early part of the season to learn lessons and gain experience that will improve their team’s chemistry. The Bulldogs continue to be a force in the league. I think the Bulldogs will take both games. Adrian 3-2, 4-1
Lake Forest vs. St. Norbert
Both teams are undefeated in their first weekends of play. Lake Forest has 21 so far this season, while St. Norbert has 14. In this home-and-home series, I think each team will take a win on their home ice. St. Norbert 3-1, Lake Forest 4-3
Milwaukee School of Engineering vs. Marian
Marian is coming off a 6-2 win over Lawrence, which marks the Sabres’ first win of the season. MSOE has yet to tally a win. This is another home-and-home series that I’m taking the home team for the win. Marian 4-1, MSOE 4-1
Finlandia at St. Scholastica
Finlandia is winless with two losses to St. Norbert and two nonconference losses to Wisconsin-Stevens Point. St. Scholastica is coming off a series with two ties against Concordia. St. Scholastica also swept MSOE in the first weekend of play. St. Scholastica 2-1, 5-4
Lawrence at Northland
Northland is winless this season and Lawrence is sitting with a 1-3-0 record. Northland is struggling defensively as they have allowed 30 goals this season, the most of any NCHA team. I would like to see both teams get a win. Northland 3-2, Lawrence 2-1.
NESCAC – Tim Costello
It’s mid-November and finally, the NESCAC schools are playing someone other than themselves in intra-squad scrimmages.
Some interesting and potentially telling match-ups to open the season so get ready for some great action from the drop of the first puck on Friday night.
Here are my picks for the upcoming weekend and a Tuesday bonus game:
Friday, Nov. 15
Hamilton @ Amherst
This home-and-home series on opening weekend knocks off the travel partner series right away and also serves to get people quickly oriented to life at home and on the road. This game will be a close one and should prove that it is much better not to be on a bus for a long ride before you play. Amherst 4-3.
Tufts @ Wesleyan
The Cardinals have some firepower and Keith Buehler comes out showing that last year’s numbers were not an anomaly. The Jumbos have a lot of new pieces and are still figuring out how they all fit. Wesleyan 5-2.
Saturday, Nov. 16
Bowdoin @ Middlebury
The Polar Bears have a very young defensive group going against a potent Panther attack, while Middlebury will be looking for some improvement and consistency between the pipes. The difference is that either guy in the Bowdoin goal is the difference-maker in this game. Bowdoin 3-2.
Colby @ Williams
Both teams are retooling big pieces entering the season. The Mules are new on defense, while the Ephs have several new forwards. So what is the difference? Same as last year – Sean Dougherty and Williams pick up the win in a low scoring affair. Williams 2-1.
Tufts @ Trinity
The Bantams aren’t as strong offensively as Wesleyan, but Tufts finds the back end of the weekend more challenging in trying to score on Benjamin Coulthard and the Trinity defense. Trinity 4-2.
Tuesday, Nov. 19
Southern Maine @ Colby
It’s a quick turnaround for the Mules, who return home after a Sunday match-up at Middlebury. The weekday home opener is just what Blaise MacDonald’s team needs in picking up the win against their in-state rival. Colby 4-3.
The season is now officially underway – drop the puck!
SUNYAC – Dan Hickling
Friday, Nov. 15
Morrisville (1-3-0, 1-3-0) @ Cortland (1-2-0) – Morrisville 6, Cortland 5.
The first of a two-game set in Cortland. Both teams want to prove themselves better than their joint last-place preseason prediction. The teams will likely split the wins and Friday will be the Mustangs’ night.
Saturday, Nov. 16
No. 3 Plattsburgh (3-0-0, 3-0-0) @ Buffalo State (2-2-0, 2-2-0) – Plattsburgh 3, Buff St. 1
The Cardinals are already showing themselves to be the team to beat in the SUNYAC. The Bengals, still smarting from last week’s loss at Morrisville, will give them a stiff test, and may even get a puck behind Platty goalie Mathieu Cadieux. But that’s about it.