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Weekend wrap: Jan. 26

BrownleeFinlandia2 sized Weekend wrap: Jan. 26

Finlandia goaltender Andrew Brownlee’s 41-save shutout lifted the Lions to a 3-0 shutout of then-No. 8 Adrian last Friday night (photo: Finlandia Athletics).

Lots of happenings this past weekend in the Division III ranks. Brian and Dan get right to it.

ECAC EAST – Where there was once a three-way logjam at the top between Norwich, Massachusetts-Boston and Babson, there is now clear separation. With this weekend’s decisive two-game blitz through the Pine Tree State, and the resulting four-point conference lead, Norwich has become the team to beat in the East … The Cadets took lopsided wins at UNE (6-1) and Southern Maine (5-1). Norwich received great scoring balance with goals coming from nine different Cadets. William Pelletier notched four assists in the win over UNE … Meanwhile, Mass-Boston and Babson split a pivotal two-game home-and-home set, with Babson taking Friday’s opener, 4-2. The Beavers opened up a four-goal lead early in the second period then put it in cruise mode. The following night, Babson went for the sweep and held a 3-2 third period lead before the Beacons replied with a pair of Colin Larkin goals. After knotting the score at 7:05 of the third, Larkin notched the game winner at 1:47 of the extra session with his eighth goal of the season.

ECAC NORTHEAST – Light activity in the league, just three games, including Saturday’s routs by Nichols and Johnson & Wales. Both came by lopsided 5-0 scores, with league co-leaders (with Suffolk) Nichols thumping Salve Regina behind Alex Larson’s 35-save shutout. Staying one point behind, J & W hammered Western New England, with goalie Joey Ballmer turning in a 26-save blanking.

ECAC WEST – Not much was settled in the West this past weekend, although Neumann grabbed a one-point league lead after trouncing Utica 9-0, then tying the Pioneers 5-5. After scoring just once all year, Zac Lazzaro scored three times on Friday while the next night, the Knights were forced to haul back from a 5-1 deficit to salvage the tie. Jory Mullin scored twice in the final 1:26 of regulation, including the deadlocker with just 12 remaining … Hobart and Nazareth remained tied for second after splitting their set and handing each other their first conference defeats. Nazareth won Friday’s tilt behind two goals from David Seward. Mac Olson led the Statesmen to victory on Saturday, scoring both their goals in a 2-1 win.

MASCAC – Just two tilts during the weekend, including Massachusetts-Dartmouth’s 9-2 blasting of Westfield State, which kept the Corsairs within three points of first place Plymouth State. The Panthers won 3-2, with Tord Thoresen and Josh Woody scoring 2:03 apart late in the second stanza to provide sufficient offensive oomph.

MIAC – St. Thomas moved into a tie for first place in the standings after sweeping Hamline in a weekend series. The Tommies beat the Pipers 4-1 on Friday and then rallied from a 3-1 deficit on Saturday to earn a 4-3 victory in overtime. St. Thomas improved to 11-3-3 overall and 5-1-2 in the conference. Alex Altenbernd scored the game-winning goal in OT. Johnny Roisum, Jordan Lovick and Derek Jacobson also scored goals, while Drew Fielding made 22 saves and improved to 8-3-3 in goal this season. The Tommies have won seven consecutive games and are unbeaten in their last nine games. Charlie Adams scored twice for the Pipers. Altenbernd and Tyler Richter scored two goals apiece on Friday and Fielding won his seventh game. Adams scored the lone goal for the Pipers, who had their three-game win streak snapped in the loss. Hamline is 7-6-4 overall and 3-2-3 in the league … Concordia (Minn.) came out of the weekend tied with St. Thomas for first place in the league after splitting a series with Augsburg. After a 4-2 loss on Friday, the Cobbers edged the Auggies 3-2 on Saturday. Concordia is 10-6-3 overall and 5-3-2 in the MIAC. It has won at least 10 games in each of the last five seasons. Ben Gislason and Jeremy Johnson both scored goals as did Jordie Bancroft. The goal for Gialson was the first of his career. Johnson’s goal was his first game-winner of the season. Bancroft scored a goal and dished out an assist for his fourth multiple-point game of the season. Concordia won despite Augsburg’s 35-16 advantage in shots. Alex Reichle earned his fifth win of the year. Augsburg scored twice in a two-minute span in the first period on Friday to hold off the Cobbers. The Auggies, who ended the weekend at 8-9-0 overall and 5-3-0 in the league, took an early lead on goals by Max Pernhem and Will Petersen. Drew Anderson scored twice for the Auggies, who finished with a 27-25 edge in shots. Both teams were disciplined throughout the game as only three penalties were called. Augsburg is still in good shape in the standings as it is tied with Gustavus for second and is just three points out of first.

NCHA – It was as big day for the Milwaukee School of engineering as it stunned top-ranked St. Norbert 2-1 on Saturday. The Raiders scored twice in the second period on goals by Cody Ganchar and Nick LaRue. Ganchar has scored points in six of his last seven games, including four goals. Nick Kohn was sensational in goal as he racked up 35 saves to help the Raiders seal the deal against the defending national champions. MSOE was outshot 36-16, but managed to hand St. Norbert goalie David Jacobson his first loss of the season. Jacobson is now 12-1-1. Cullen Bradshaw scored the lone goal for the Green Knights, who avoided their first shutout at home since November of 2009. The Raiders are 11-7 overall and 6-6 in the NCHA. The Green Knights fell to 14-2-2 overall and to 10-1-1 in the league … Finlandia didn’t play like a major underdog on Friday night against eighth-ranked Adrian, stunning the Bulldogs 3-0. Finlandia was 0-15 against Adrian prior to Friday’s win. Andrew Brownlee made 41 saves, while Lane King, Lucas Lahnala and Thomas Clayton all scored goals for the Lions, who won their second consecutive game. Adrian bounced back on Saturday with a 7-3 victory. Josh Ranalli scored twice and finished with four points in all to help the Bulldogs improve to 13-3-3 overall and 10-1-1 in the NCHA. Jeremy Olinyk came through with three assists. The Lions fell to 4-14-1 overall and are 3-9 in the league. Ryan Daavettila scored two goals for the Lions.

NESCAC – Trinity remained unbeaten (9-0-1) in the league and increased its lead to four points with wins over Connecticut College (3-1) and Tufts (4-1). Ryan Cole scored twice against the Jumbos to up his NESCAC-leading total to nine (10 overall), while Sean Orlando tallied twice in both games, giving him 11 overall … Williams stayed within four points of Trinity with wins over Colby and Bowdoin, while Amherst triumphed 3-1 over Hamilton in its only start of the weekend.

SUNYAC – Oswego had little trouble handling Buffalo State (6-0) or Fredonia (7-1), which helped the Lakers cut into Plattsburgh’s league lead. Oswego now trails Platty by three points (18-15) and has one game in hand on the Cardinals. Plattsburgh easily handled Potsdam, 6-2, in its only start. Connor Gordon and Alex Brenton both scored twice for the Cardinals

WIAC – Wisconsin-Eau Claire made a statement over the weekend as it swept Wisconsin-River Falls in a pivotal conference series on the road. The No. 14 Blugolds capped the series on Saturday with a 4-3 win, beating the third-ranked Falcons for the ninth time in their last 11 meetings. Eau Claire rolled to a 5-2 win on Friday night. Third-period goals by Jack Callahan and Patrick Moore lifted the Blugolds to the win. Moore finished with two goals and an assist, while David Henry also scored a goal for Eau Claire, which is 11-4-2 overall and 3-1 in the WIAC. Moore’s goal served as the game-winner. It was his first game-winning tally of the year. Henry’s goal came off the power play. The Blugolds have now scored at least one power-play goal in each of their last seven games. Ross Andersen came through with two assists and Jay Deo racked up 31 saves en route to his fifth win of the season. Jake Hopfner and Ethan Nauman each scored twice in Friday’s win. Nauman has tallied a team-best 15 goals on the season. Tyler Green got the start in goal and won his sixth game of the season. River Falls comes out of the weekend at 14-4-1 overall and 3-3 in the WIAC. The Falcons have only one win in their last six games. Cory Lushanko scored a goal in each game for River Falls … Goals weren’t hard to come by for Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Saturday’s series finale against Wisconsin-Superior. The sixth-ranked Pointers put up nine goals in a 9-4 win. On Friday, they skated to a 4-2 victory. Alex Brooks paced the Pointers with a career-best four points. He scored one goal and dished out three assists. Kevin Gibson came through with three assists as well. Kyle Sharkey scored two goals and dished out an assist. Jacob Barber scored two goals as well, while Brandon Jaeger racked up 31 saves en route to his 14th win. Stevens Point improved to 14-4 overall and 5-1 in the WIAC. Eric Shand scored three goals for Superior, which fell to 7-12 overall and 0-6 in the league. Sharkey and Joe Kalisz scored power-play goals in the third period of Friday’s game to propel the Pointers to a victory. Ian Ecklund and James Hughes scored goals for Superior.

Weekend picks: Jan. 23

2014 11 14 afl 1133 Weekend picks: Jan. 23

Brockport hopes to be celebrating this weekend when the Golden Eagles play Morrisville (photo: Angelo Lisuzzo).

The. Weekend. Is. Here.

Those are four words most people love to hear this time each week.

And for the college hockey fans, those words mean action, goals, saves and weekend picks from our two columnists, so fire away, Brian and Dan.

BRIAN LESTER – West

Most of the hockey teams in the west region are full-go into conference play this weekend, and one of the matchups features a pair of nationally ranked teams as Wisconsin-River Falls and Wisconsin-Eau Claire square off in a pivotal WIAC showdown.

The Blugolds, ranked No, 13 in the country make the trip to take on the fourth-ranked Falcons, who are in a tie with Wisconsin-Stevens Point for first place in the conference.

Eau Claire (9-4-2, 1-1 WIAC) has won five of six and has racked up 55 goals on the season. It has allowed 31. Ethan Nauman leads the Blugolds offense with 12 goals and seven assists.

River Falls (14-2-1, 3-1) has won only once in its last four and is looking to turn things back around. Its offense has produced 57 goals, including 20 off the power play, and Tanner Milliron has been impressive, fashioning a 13-2-1 record for a Falcons team that is 8-0-1 at home. This series will be a tight one for sure. River Falls, 3-2; Stevens Point 4-3.

Below are a look at some of the other games on tap for the weekend.

No. 13 St. Thomas (9-3-3, 3-1-2 MIAC) vs. Hamline (7-4-4, 3-0-3): When the season began, this wasn’t really a matchup to keep an eye on. It is now. The Tommies are actually a point behind the third-place Pipers in the standings. Hamline comes in on a three-game win streak and has been fueled by the play of Kevin Novakovich, who has tallied 10 goals and five assists. John Sellie-Hanson is 6-2-2 in goal this season.

The Tommies are hot as well, winning their last five, and have scored 39 goals while allowing only 21. St. Thomas has been balanced, with no one on the team scoring more than six goals. Jordan Lovick leads the team in points with three goals and 13 assists.

This one is going to be interesting, and I can’t imagine either one sweeps the series. I could see at least one of the games ending in a tie but I’m picking straight up wins both nights. Hamline 3-2; St. Thomas, 4-2.

Concordia (Minn.) (9-5-3, 4-2-2) at Augsburg (7-8, 4-2): The Cobbers are atop the MIAC standings entering the weekend and they have no intentions of letting go of first place. Concordia is riding a three-game win streak. Andrew Deters has tallied nine goals and 11 assists to help pace an offense that has racked up 53 goals in all.

Augsburg is only a point out of second place, which means a lot is riding on this series for the Auggies. It has been a struggle for Augsburg at home — the Auggies are 2-5 — but if Augsburg is going to take a step forward in the standings and contend for a playoff spot, taking care of business at home is key.

At the moment, it’s too tough to bet against the Cobbers. Concordia, 4-1, 5-3.

No. 6 Wisconsin-Stevens Point (12-4, 3-1 WIAC) at Wisconsin-Superior (7-10, 0-4): The Pointers have an opportunity to maintain a share of first place if they can take care of business on the road. Stevens Point has won five of seven away from home. Behind an offense that has cranked out 65 goals and a solid goalie in Brandon Jaeger (12-3) I’m guessing that trend will continue.

Superior has lost three in a row. The Yellow Jackets have scored 46 goals and Tanner Dion has paved the way, racking up nine goals and five assists. Superior will need to cash in on opportunities and make plays on defense to have a chance at pulling off an upset. Stevens Point, 5-1, 4-1.

Concordia (Wis.) (6-11, 2-8 NCHA) vs. No. 15 Lake Forest (9-3-5, 7-2-1): The Falcons open this home-and-home series on the road and will be looking to end a four-game losing streak. The defense will need to step up as Concordia has allowed four or more goals in each of its games during the streak.

The Foresters are nationally ranked and riding a two-game win streak. Luke Swardenski anchors a dangerous offense as he has come through with nine goals and five assists. Jack Lewis has tallied five goals and 12 assists. Leo Podolsky has been impressive in goal, fashioning a 9-2-3 record. Lake Forest 5-2, 6-2.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (10-8, 5-6) at No. 1 St. Norbert: The Raiders fell 4-1 to the Green Knights on Thursday at home and have dropped their last two. MSOE will need to be better on offense to have a shot at the upset this weekend. Omar Mullan leads the Raiders with 12 goals and 16 assists.

The Green Knights have won four in a row and are clicking offensively. Michael Hill has scored 16 goals and dished out seven assists for an offense that has racked up 89 goals on 136 assists. St. Norbert has given up just 23 goals and its ability to get the job done on both ends of the ice will be tough for the Raiders to match. St. Norbert 5-2.

DAN HICKLING – East

Friday

NESCAC

Bowdoin (9-4-2, 4-4-2) @ Middlebury (6-6-2, 3-3-2) – Bowdoin 3, Middlebury 2

Middlebury’s ambush of No. 2 Norwich last week may have sent a cautionary shudder throughout country. You can bet that Bowdoin took notice.

ECAC East

No. 2 Norwich (14-2-1, 10-0-0) @ Univ. of New England (6-10-1, 4-6-1) – Norwich 5, UNE 2

The Cadets are beginning to roll once more, and while it’s not likely that they will run the conference table, UNE doesn’t figure to stop them here.

SUNYAC

Morrisville (4-7-5, 2-4-2) @ Brockport (8-6-1, 3-3-1) – Brockport 4, Morrisville 3

The first of a two-game weekend set. Brockport, which has been getting clutch goaltending from senior Aaron Green, saw its best-ever winning streak stopped at six. Morrisville has little trouble scoring, but keeping pucks out? Another story.

Saturday

MASCAC

Massachusetts-Dartmouth (4-10-2, 4-4-2) @ Westfield (9-7-0, 6-3-0) – Westfield 4, UMD 2

Both teams have hopes of upending first-place Plymouth State’s title hopes.Westfield’s are more realistic, and will play themselves out here.

ECAC West

No. 15 Hobart (11-5-0, 4-2-0) @ Nazareth (7-6-3, 3-1-2) – Hobart 5, Nazareth 4

The back end of a big two-game set, both in Rochester, between two of the three teams (with Neumann) tied at the top of the West. This presents the possibility of a massive eight-point standings swing. Or maybe it will settle nothing. Either way, it should be interesting.

ECAC Northeast

Curry (9-5-2, 4-4-1) @ Suffolk (10-5-1, 4-0-1) – Suffolk 2, Curry 0

The Rams had a terrific first month, but since then, not so much. There couldn’t be a better time for them to rediscover their mojo. It won’t be easy, however, as Curry is on a 6-0-1 run, albeit against non-conference opposition.

Weekend wrap: Jan. 19

Lino Chimienti sized Weekend wrap: Jan. 19

Hobart netminder Lino Chimienti blanked Salve Regina last weekend with a 43-save outing (photo: Dan Hickling).

The weekend has come and gone and teams, even though we’re only in mid-January, have started to watch the scores and jockey for playoff positioning.

Dan Hickling and Brian Lester recap the weekend that was in Division III.

ECAC East – The weekend just passed was a little “Jekyll and Hydish” for the league’s top three teams, namely Norwich, Massachusetts-Boston and Babson. That’s especially true for the Cadets, ranked No. 2 in the land. On Friday, Norwich pumped in goals without let up in a 9-0 obliteration of St. Michael’s. The next night, however, was a different story, as the Cadets were blanked by Middlebury, 3-0. Stephen Klein stopped 25 shots for the shutout … No. 10 Mass-Boston racked up twin wins, 5-4 over St. Anselm and 4-1 over New England College. Friday’s win versus St. A’s was a bit of a struggle, however, as the Beacons had to mount a third period rally – capped by a pair of Matt Lemire goals – to prevail … No. 7 Babson salvaged a 3-3 overtime tie with NEC, then pulled out a 7-5 win at St. A’s in a game in which it erased three different one-goal deficits.

ECAC Northeast – All the action was out of conference and none of it involved nationally-ranked (at the time) teams. Of note was Curry’s 4-4 tie with Fredonia which saw all eight goals scored in the second period. Indeed, the Colonels trailed 4-1 with 2:36 remaining in the second, then rebounded with a trio of goals coming from Jordan Reed, James Murphy and Tyler Vankleef. On Saturday, Reed scored three times (giving him 14) in boosting Curry to a 7-3 win over Buffalo State. Reed scored in three different fashions – power play, penalty shot and empty-netter.

ECAC West – The lone in-conference tilt saw Utica blank visiting Manhattanville 2-0 on Saturday. Utica goalie Dylan Wells made 27 stops for the shutout, while the Pioneers got third period goals from Peter LaFosse and Louie Educate … Hobart made its way into national ranking – tied for 15th – with wins over Salve Regina (7-0) and Nichols (4-3). Statesmen goalie Lino Chimienti stopped 43 Salve salvos for his first shutout of the year.

MASCAC – Middle-of-the-pack Massachusetts-Dartmouth turned heads all over the country with its 8-2 hammering of first-place Plymouth State, one of three tilts staged on Saturday. Matt Baldino and Casey Shea each potted two goals, while netminder J.J. Solloway stopped 41 shots.

MIAC – Nick Nielsen scored the game-winning goal for St. Thomas in its thrilling 3-2 win over nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Saturday. The score was tied at 2-2 after one period before Nielsen broke the tie and lifted the Tommies to their third consecutive win. Jordan Lovick and Thomas Williams also scored goals, giving St. Thomas an early 2-0 lead against the No. 12 Blugolds. Goals by Ross Andersen and Jason Eddy tied the game at 2-2. St. Thomas held a 40-28 edge in shots and Joe Morris won his second game as a goalie for the Tommies. St. Thomas closed out the weekend with a 4-1 win over Aurora, marking their fourth consecutive victory. St. Thomas is 9-3-3 on the season … Concordia (Minn.) completed a sweep of No. 14 St. John’s over the weekend and moved into first place in the conference. The Cobbers beat the Johnnies 4-0 on Saturday. They opened the series with a 3-2 overtime win. It marks the first time since 2000 that Concordia has swept St. John’s. Dalton Mills, Jon Grebosky, Zach Doerring and Andrew Deters all scored goals as Concordia improved to 9-5-3 overall and 4-2-2 in the MIAC. Jordyn Kaufer made 27 saves in the win. He is 5-2-2 on the year and the Cobbers have won their last three games. In Friday’s win, Grebosky scored the game-winner in OT and finished with two goals on the day. John Haeg scored twice for the Johnnies … Hamline is still unbeaten in conference play after sweeping St. Olaf. The Pipers blanked the Oles 3-0 on Saturday to cap the series. John Sellie-Hanson made 44 saves en route to his second shutout of the season. Jaycob McCombs, Cody Mason and Brandon Reinholz all scored goals for Hamline, which is 7-4-4 overall and 3-0-3 in league play. The Pipers have won three consecutive games and on Friday, picked up a 4-2 win behind two goals from McCombs, who also tallied an assist.

NCHA – No. 8 Adrian capped its weekend with a 3-0 win over St. Scholastica. The Bulldogs improved to 12-2-3 overall and are 9-0-1 in league play. Kyle Brothers, Ryan Lowe and Pat George all scored goals for Adrian. Brothers came through with his 13th goal of the year. The goal for Lowe was his fourth of the season and the 17th of his career. George’s empty-net goal was the first of his career. Scott Shackell earned the win in goal, making 27 saves. On Friday, Adrian and St. Scholastica skated to a 2-2 tie. It was the third time this month that the Bulldogs have tied an opponent. Adrian owned a 41-19 advantage in shots. Thompson and Josh Ranalli both scored goals for the Bulldogs. Derek Hills and Derek Sutliffe both scored for the Saints … Lawrence and the Milwaukee School of Engineering split their two-game series. The Vikings earned a 3-2 win on Saturday after falling 5-2 on Friday. The Vikings snapped the Raiders’ four-game win streak on Saturday. Matt Moore, Ryan Eardley and Blake Roubos all scored goals for Lawrence, which held a 44-41 edge in shots. Matt Soderqvist tallied 39 saves for Lawrence. The Vikings won despite giving up two power-play goals to Casey Moneer. The Raiders dominated on Friday as they won for the 10th time in 12 games. James Ring scored twice for the Raiders, who owned a 42-21 advantage in shots. Lawrence is 6-10-1 overall and 5-5 in the league. MSOE is 10-7 overall and 5-5 in the league as well … Lake Forest swept Marian, capping the series with a 4-1 win. The Foresters won 4-3 on Friday. Ian Pichel, Shawn Nelson, Billy Kent and Bobby Barrett all scored goals for Lake Forest, which is now 9-3-5 overall and 7-2-1 in the NCHA. Barrett has scored five goals this season. On Friday, Jack Lewis scored on the power-play in the third period to break a 3-3 tie. It was one of two goals Lewis scored in the win. Marian had come back to tie the score at 3-3 in the second, thanks in part to a pair of goals by Rjay Berra.

NESCAC – No. 5 Trinity upped its winning streak to eight straight with triumphs over Bowdoin, 2-1, and Colby, 6-3. Tallies by Tim Shea and Michael Flynn proved to be enough offense against Bowdoin, which had been ranked 15th. The next night, Ryan Cole scored twice to fuel the romp against the White Mules … No. 12 Amherst dropped a 6-4 count to Connecticut College, then eked out a 3-2 win against Tufts thanks to David White’s goal with 26 seconds left in regulation. It was White’s second marker of the game and eighth of the season … No. 11 Williams was tied, 1-1 by visiting Manhattanville, then pounded No. 9 Plattsburgh (then ranked No. 3), 6-3 on the road. Craig Kitto notched the hattie while staking the Ephs to a 5-0 lead.

SUNYAC – With all activity being out of conference, the weekend saw no movement in the SUNYAC standings. However, with first place Plattsburgh having lost twice – at home, no less – to Middlebury (3-1) before being shocked by Williams, there were some seismic waves felt nationally. The Cardinals tumbled six spots to No. 9. The SUNYAC’s other ranked power, Oswego, tied Elmira 2-2 in its only tilt, but actually rose one spot to No. 4 … Meanwhile, Brockport saw its school record winning streak snapped at six with a 5-3 loss to Nazareth.

WIAC – Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Wisconsin-River Falls split their pivotal series over the weekend. The seventh-ranked Pointers won 1-0 on Friday, but lost 4-2 to the fourth-ranked Falcons on Saturday. The Falcons scored three consecutive goals, including twice in the second period, to secure the victory. Kyle Gattelaro punched in two goals for the Falcons, who improved to 14-2-1 overall and 3-1-0 in the WIAC. Stevens Point fell to 12-4 overall and to 3-1 in the league. Lawrence Cornellier and Scott Henegar both scored goals for the Pointers. Friday’s game went right down to the wire, with Kyle Brodie scoring with 43.1 seconds left in regulation. It was the first game-winning goal of Brodie’s college career. Brodie has scored his fourth goal of the season. Brandon Jaeger came through with the ninth shutout of his career. The Pointers had a 23-20 advantage in shots in the win … Matt Millis came through with a game-winning goal for Wisconsin-Stout in a 3-2 win over Wisconsin-Superior on Saturday, helping the Blue Devils complete a series sweep of the Yellowjackets. Superior led 2-0 early before Stout made its comeback. Danny Ray and Justin Moody also scored goals for Stout, which improved to 5-8-1 overall and 2-2 in the WIAC. On Friday night, Chase Hollander earned the first shutout win of his career in Stout’s 2-0 victory. He stopped 37 shots. The win was the first of the year in six appearances. Moody and Derek sand both scored in the victory. Moody’s goal was his seventh of the season. It was the first goal of the year for Sand.

Weekend picks: Jan. 16

Soley1 Weekend picks: Jan. 16

Saxton Soley will need to be strong between the pipes this weekend as St. John’s plays a pair with Concordia (Minn.).

Our venerable columnist team of Dan Hickling and Brian Lester is back at it with their weekend picks for the top games across men’s Division III.

DAN HICKLING – EAST

Friday

NESCAC
Tufts (5-6-1, 2-3-1) @ Hamilton (3-5-4, 2-3-2) – Hamilton 5, Tufts 3
With both teams scuffling in the middle of the NESCAC pack, this clash could come down to who is better able to avoid giving up scoring chances. This is where Hamilton could have the edge.

ECAC East
New England College (5-7-3, 3-5-1) @ No. 6 Babson (12-2-1, 7-1-0) – Babson 2, NEC 0
The Beavers (1-2-1 since the break) are looking to pull out of their mini-skid. NEC has played its best hockey of the season of late, but will be hard pressed to get anything past Babson goalie Jamie Murray.

Saturday

MASCAC
Salem St. (6-7-1, 3-5-0) @ Framingham St. (2-9-2, 1-6-1) – Framingham 4, Salem 2
Until the preseason fave Vikings figure themselves out, teams will sneak up on them. Conditions could be right for a Ram upset.

ECAC West
Manhattanville (6-5-3, 1-3-1) @ Utica (7-5-3, 0-4-1) – Utica 5, Manhattanville 3
The lone conference tilt of the weekend. Both teams have feasted on non-league foes but have been woeful within the league. It seems early, but with a stretch run ready to roll out, this could actually be called a “must-win” game.

Nonconference
Nichols (10-2-2) @ Morrisville (4-6-5) – Nichols 6, Morrisville 5
On paper this appears to be a mismatch, but you ever try skating on a notebook? Morrisville has enough firepower to give anybody fits, but perhaps not enough to outgun the Bison, the 10th-ranked offense (4.07 gpg) in the land.

BRIAN LESTER – WEST

Conference play heats up this week in the West Region and there is no bigger game than the WIAC battle between Wisconsin-River Falls and Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

The two nationally-ranked opponents square off tonight in Stevens Point. The seventh-ranked Pointers (11-3) have won six of seven and have racked up 62 goals while allowing only 34. Joe Kalisz leads the way on offense with 11 goals.

In the net, Brandon Jaeger has gone 11-2 and will need to be at his best against a River Falls team that is explosive on offense. Jaeger owns a goals against average of 2.16.

The fourth-ranked Falcons (13-1-1) have racked up 53 goals and have given up 26. Christian George leads the attack with seven goals. Tanner Milliron has been solid in goal, fashioning a 12-1-1 record. His GAA is 1.73.

This is a game that could easily be decided by defense. The team that takes care of business on that end of the ice will prevail. I’m going with the Pointers this time around. Stevens Point, 5-4.

Below are a few other predictions for the weekend ahead.

No. 14 St. John’s (7-3-4, 4-1-1 MIAC) at Concordia (Minn.) (7-5-3, 2-2-2): The Johnnies own first place at the moment in the MIAC and they want to make sure they don’t lose their grip on it. St. John’s has tremendous balance as eight players have scored at least three goals. Combine that with the talented Saxton Soley in goal, and you have a team that has the ability to go on the road and win a big series.

Concordia has proven it can win big games as well and this series is a chance for the Cobbers to make a statement in league play. The Cobbers have a high-scoring team as well, tallying 46 goals on the year, including 12 by Jordie Bancroft. This should be a great weekend series and I’m guessing the two teams split. St. John’s, 4-3; Concordia, 3-2.

St. Olaf (3-9-2, 2-3-1) vs. Hamline (5-4-4, 1-0-3): This series features two teams in the middle of the standings, but both are certainly poised to make a move in the right direction.

The Oles are looking for their first win in 2015. If they are going to find it this weekend in a home-and-home series with the Pipers, they need to get the job done on defense. St. Olaf has allowed 44 goals on the year. Goalie Steve Papciak is 3-8-2 with a 2.75 GAA.

The Pipers are a different team than they were a year ago and are riding the high of an impressive 5-4 win over nationally ranked Stevens Point. If they bring that same type of effort to the rink this weekend, they could come away with two big wins. The Pipers have scored 37 goals in all and John Sellie-Hanson is 4-2-2 as a goalie this season. But with the MIAC being so competitive, I’m guessing this one ends in a split. Hamline, 4-2; St. Olaf, 4-3.

No. 12 Wisconsin-Eau Claire (9-3-2) at St. Thomas (7-3-3): The Tommies received votes in last week’s national poll. A win over the Blugolds might just propel them into the poll.

The Tommies have won three in a row, including a big win over River Falls, and feature one of the top goalies in the game in Drew Fielding. Fielding is 6-3-3 and owns a goals against average of 1.31. If he plays well again, the Tommies will be tough to beat.

Eau Claire is on a roll as well. The Blugolds have won five in a row, stepping up on defense as well during the win streak. Tyler Green and Jay Deo have seen the majority of time in goal while the offense has cranked out 53 goals. This one should be a classic between two of the nation’s best teams. St. Thomas, 3-2.

No. 8 Adrian (11-2-2, 8-0 NCHA) at St. Scholastica (8-6-1, 5-3): The Bulldogs head out on the road and are looking to get back on track. They have just one win in their last four games. The good news is they are tough to beat on the road, fashioning a 5-0-1 record away from home. Matthew Thompson (nine goals) and Josh Ranalli (nine goals) lead an offense that has scored 72 goals, including 21 off the power play.

The Saints have struggled as of late as well, winning only two of their last six. Having this series at home could be huge as St. Scholastica is 5-0 at home this season. Derek Sutliffe anchors the offense with eight goals. The Saints have scored 50 goals this season. Adrian, 4-2, 5-3.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (9-6, 4-4) vs. Lawrence (5-9-1, 4-4): The Raiders have won their last three and have a chance to move into the top four in the standings with a couple of wins in this home-and-home series.

Omar Mullan has been sensational for the Raiders, scoring 10 goals and dishing out 14 assists. His ability to make plays will give the Raiders a great shot to come away with a sweep in the series.

The Vikings have struggled, dropping their last five, finding it difficult to score goals during the slide. Players like Brendan Vetter (five goals) and Ryan Rumble (five goals) have to be able to make plays to give Lawrence a shot at victory. I think the Raiders keep rolling. MSOE, 5-2, 4-2.

Weekend wrap: Jan. 12

kevin novokovich hamline Weekend wrap: Jan. 12

Kevin Novakovich’s Hamline squad upset No. 6 Wisconsin-Stevens Point last weekend.

The action was hot and heavy last weekend around Division III and our columnists recap all the highlights.

BRIAN LESTER – WEST

MIAC – Hamline sent shockwaves through the Division III hockey world on Saturday, stunning sixth-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point 5-4 in one of the biggest wins in program history. The Pipers scored three goals in the final period to earn the win and improve to 5-4-4 on the season. Brandon Reinholz scored a goal and dished out two assists, while John Sellie-Hanson came off the bench early in the third period and earned the win. The Pipers and Pointers were tied at 2-2 at the end of two periods. Brandon Zurn’s goal secured the win. Hamline won despite being outshot 39-28. The Pipers skated to a 5-5 tie against Lake Forest on Friday and have yet to lose a game in the new year … St. Thomas became the first team to beat Wisconsin-River falls this season, blanking the fourth-ranked Falcons 3-0 on Friday. The Tommies scored twice in the opening period behind goals from Michael Dockery and Jeremy Hepler. Bobby Murphy also scored in the win, while Drew Fielding nailed down the win with 18 saves. St. Thomas held River Falls in check on the power play, forcing the Falcons to come up empty on all six opportunities. The Tommies capped their big weekend with a 1-0 win over Marian, marking their third consecutive victory. Tyler Richter scored the lone goal for the Tommies, who improved to 7-3-3 overall and are 5-0-2 at home this year….No. 15 St. John’s rolled to a 6-2 win over Lawrence on Sunday. John Haeg scored the 90th point of his career on a goal in the first period that put the Johnnies up 1-0. Haeg also tallied three assists and is just seven points away from becoming the 21st player in school history to get to 100 career points. Saxton Soley made 32 saves and improved to 6-2-4 on the year. The Johnnies are 7-3-4 after earning their first win since early December.

NCHA – St. Norbert rallied two different times against Concordia (Minn.) on Friday and pulled away for a 6-3 nonconference win. The Green Knights, ranked second in the nation, trailed 2-0 and 3-2 before securing the victory. The Green Knights improved to 11-1-2. Ross Pavek’s power-play goal gave St. Norbert the lead for good in the third period. Cullen Bradshaw finished with a goal and two assists, while Mason Baptista and Sam Higgins tallied two assists apiece. Bradshaw’s goal tied the score at 3-3 after two periods. David Jacobson earned the win in goal, the 72nd of his career, which moves him into third all-time in career wins by a Division III goaltender. St. Norbert scored twice off the power play while Concordia was 0-for-5 … The Milwaukee School of Engineering edged Wisconsin-Superior on Saturday to complete a perfect weekend. The win was the third in a row for the Raiders, who blanked Wisconsin-Stout 6-0 on Friday night. Cody Ganchar, Casey Moneer and Gage Christianson all scored goals for the Raiders, who own a 9-6 record. Ganchar and Christianson both scored off the power play. Austin Campbell made 33 saves and won his third game of the year. On Friday night, the Raiders earned their second consecutive shutout. It marked the first time in school history that MSOE has ever blanked two opponents in a row. Ganchar and Jerad Tafoya both came through with hat tricks in the win. Each player scored two of their goals on the power play. Nick Kohn earned the fifth shutout of his career and won for the sixth time this season.

WIAC – Stout ended a three-game losing streak on Saturday with an 8-5 win over Concordia (Wis.). The Blue Devils led 3-1 after one period before both teams combined for eight goals in a wild second period. Each team scored four goals in the period. Justin Moody scored twice for the Blue Devils, who improved to 3-8-1 one night after getting blanked by the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Moody also tallied an assist in the win. Joey Haydock, Jordan Tredinnick and Jake Useldinger all tallied a goal and an assist, while Derek Sand and Riley Colvard came through with two assists apiece. Spencer Viele earned the win in goal … Wisconsin-Eau Claire played its first game of the new year, ringing it in with a 5-3 win over Marian. The No. 13 Blugolds are 5-1 lifetime against the Panthers. This was the first meeting between the two schools since 2009. Jake Callahan, Patrick Moore, Jeff Pauluk, Ross Andersen and Ethan Nauman all scored goals for the Blugolds. Eau Claire won despite being outshot 32-26. Goalie Tyler Green won his fifth game of the season. The Blugolds capped their weekend with a with a 4-1 win over Augsburg. It was the second time this season that the Blugolds have beaten the Auggies. Eau Claire is 12-0-2 against schools from the MIAC since Jan. 12 of last year. Callahan, Andersen, Jake Davidson and Preston Hodge all scored for the Blugolds, who improved to 9-3-2. Hodge’s power-play goal marked the fifth consecutive game where Eau Claire has scored at least one goal with the man-advantage. The Blugolds haven’t allowed a power-play goal since November, killing off 32 consecutive opportunities. Jay Deo earned the win in goal, his fourth of the season. The Blugolds have won their last five games.

DAN HICKLING – EAST

ECAC EAST – The marquee matchup in the conference – yeah, even in the entire country – took place on Saturday when No. 1 Norwich hosted No. 4 Babson. The contest lived up to the hype, and then some, as the Cadets eked out a 3-2 overtime win, thanks to William Pelletier’s tally (his eighth of the year) with just 27 seconds remaining in the extra session. The Beavers came within six seconds of pulling off a 2-1 upset, but Dean Niezgoda netted the equalizer for Norwich as time was running out. Norwich outshot the Beavers 49-19. … The night before, Norwich handed Massachusetts-Boston its first conference loss, 6-3, thanks in part to Anthony Flaherty’s two tallies.

ECAC NORTHEAST – Activity was light during the weekend, with five teams hitting the ice, each playing one nonconference tilt. The Northeast’s lone winners were Nichols (9-5 over Assumption) and Johnson & Wales (3-2 over Potsdam). Sean Swansen scored twice to lead the way for Nichols, while Stefan Brucato scored with 1:18 remaining to lift J&W to its triumph.

ECAC WEST – All action was out of conference, with the two-game set between Fredonia and Neumann providing some interesting moments. Fredonia took Friday’s opener, 4-2, giving the Blue Devils their second road win of the season. The Knights rebounded the following night with a 2-1 overtime win, with Anthony Pino providing the winning goal at 2:31. … Hobart came within a whisker of pulling off a road sweep of SUNYAC foes. On Friday, the Statesmen dropped a 5-4 count to the fifth-ranked Lakers, after having spotted them a 4-0 second period lead. The following night, Hobart used a run of four unanswered goals to shock Geneseo, 7-4. Brad Robbins (2g, 2a) paced the Statesmen attack.

MASCAC – Just three conference tilts were staged, most notably Saturday win by Plymouth State, 3-2, over visiting Salem State. The first-place Panthers got goals from Ian McGilvrey, Chad Barthelmess and Tord Thoresen to support the 28-save effort by goaltender Gordon Caesar.

NESCAC – The top four teams in the conference – Trinity, Williams, Amherst and Bowdoin – all of them nationally-ranked, saw plenty of action, with the No. 14 Lord Jeffs enjoying a twin-win weekend. On Friday, Amherst downed Colby, 5-1, then defeated No. 11 Bowdoin, 4-2. … Co-leaders (with Williams) Trinity, ranked No. 10, also won twice, having taken down Middlebury, 3-1 before squeaking past No. 12 Williams, 3-2. In that one, Tyler Whitney scored with 21 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Ephs the win.

SUNYAC – Plenty of nonconference action on the weekend, with the most eye-popping result coming from Oswego, where the No. 5 Lakers were surprised by the 4-3 loss hung on them by sub-.500 Southern New Hampshire. The Lakers trailed 4-1 midway through the third, but made a game of it on late goals by Shawn Hulshof (his 10th) and Alex Botten (his sixth). … Buffalo State notched a gutsy, 3-2 overtime win at Nazareth, with Jason Zaleski netting the clinching goal at 3:41. The Bengals, which started off a dismal 1-6-2, are now 4-2-0 since freshman goalie Ian Sylves moved into the crease. … Likewise, Brockport, which struggled to a 2-5-1 start, has turned its season around, having won six straight, including Saturday’s 5-3 count at Elmira.

Weekend picks: Jan. 9

tyler brickler geneseo Weekend picks: Jan. 9

Can Geneseo and Tyler Brickler get past Hobart this weekend? (photo: Dan Hickling)

The second half is in full swing and our columnists prognosticate the weekend yet again across Division III.

EAST – DAN HICKLING

Friday

MASCAC – Massachusetts-Dartmouth (2-8-2, 2-2-2) @ Worcester State (2-8-2, 1-4-1) – UMD 5, Worcester 3
The Corsairs, with Casey Shea, Jaret Babych and Shaun Walters, et al, can do a better job of putting pucks in than Worcester can of keeping them out.

ECAC East – No. 8 Massachusetts-Boston (10-1-1, 6-0-0) @ No. 1 Norwich (11-1-0, 7-0-0) – Norwich 3, UMB 1
Each is smarting (at least a little) from sustaining its first (nonconference) loss, but both are still perfect in the ECACE. Something’s got to give, there, and the guess is that the top ranked team in the country will prevail at home.

NESCAC – Colby (3-6-2, 0-4-2) @ No. 14 Amherst (7-2-2, 3-2-0) – Amherst 6, Colby 2
The Lord Jeffs are too talented and too motivated to make a run through the NESCAC for Colby to handle.

Saturday

Nonconference – Hobart (8-4-0) @ Geneseo (6-4-2) – Geneseo 4, Hobart 3
This could amount to a tough weekend for the Statesmen, who visit No. 5 Oswego the night before. It’s hard to believe, but Genny is just 2-3-0 at the Ira this year. This would be a fine time for the Ice Knights to finally make home ice work to their advantage.

Nonconference – Tufts (4-6-1) @ Suffolk (8-3-1) – Suffolk 2, Tufts 0
The Jumbos have shown they can knock off a top team (just ask No. 10 Bowdoin). And Suffolk, which has dropped three of its last four, needs to find its way again. At least Tufts won’t have to endure any perilous bus rides.

WEST – BRIAN LESTER

Another weekend of hockey has arrived, and once again, there are a lot crossover games in the West Region.

One of the marquee matchups features unbeaten and fourth-ranked Wisconsin-River Falls taking its act on the road to play MIAC power St. Thomas.

The Tommies (5-3-3) are unbeaten at home (3-0-2) but are playing their first game since mid-December. Alex Altenbernd leads St. Thomas in goals with six and Jordan Lovick is the leader in assists, tallying eight. Drew Fielding has started nine games in goal this year and owns a 4-3-3 record. His play will be key to success against the Falcons.

River Falls (13-0) won’t be easy to stop. They have scored 52 goals, with six players scoring five or more goals. Christian George is healthy again and leads the way with seven. Tanner Milliron has been solid between the pipes as the Falcons have allowed only 22 goals all season. Even though River Falls is on the road, it gets the edge. River Falls 4-2.

No. 6 Wisconsin-Stevens Point (10-2) at Augsburg (6-5): The Auggies have been off for more than a month and will look to start off 2015 right as they host the Pointers. Mark Ohsntead has fueled the Auggies’ offensive attack, tallying eight goals and six assists. The Auggies have scored 38 goals in all, including eight off the power play, and they will need a strong offensive performance to have a shot at upsetting the Pointers.

The Pointers have won five consecutive games, including a victory over then No. 1 St. Norbert, and they will be looking to build on their momentum. Their offense has produced 56 goals, with Joe Kalisz leading the way. He has tallied nine goals and five assists. Brandon Jaeger is 10-2 as a starter this year. This one should go the Pointers’ way. Stevens Point, 5-2.

No. 2 St. Norbert (10-1-1) at Concordia (Minn.) (6-4-3): The Cobbers are playing their first game of the new year this weekend as well and they will have the advantage of being at home against the defending national champions. Andrew Deters has been phenomenal, scoring seven goals and dishing out seven assists. Jon Grebosky has tallied six goals. Their play will go a long way in determining the Cobbers’ success against a St. Norbert team that suffered a rare home loss last weekend.

The Green Knights come in looking for a bounce-back win. Michael Hill leads St. Norbert with 12 goals and Erik Cooper has tallied nine goals. The Green Knights have scored 68 goals in all while David Jacobson has made 10 starts in goal and owns an 8-0-1 record. I think St. Norbert gets the edge. St. Norbert, 4-1.

Lake Forest (7-3-3) at Hamline (4-4-3): This will be a good test for the Pipers, who have certainly made strides since last season. The Pipers have been led by Kevin Novakovich, who has scored six goals. Brandon Zurn has struck for six goals as well. John Sellie Hanson has started eight games in goal and owns a 3-2-1 record. A win in this game would serve as a huge boost of confidence for the Pipers going forward.

The Foresters received seven votes in this week’s poll and another win would put them closer to cracking the top 15. Lake Forest has been led by Luke Swardenski, who has come through with eight goals and three assists. Jack Lewis leads the team in assists with 11 and goalie Leo Podolsky has started 12 times, fashioning a 7-2-3 record. If Lake Forest plays up to its potential, it will prevail. Lake Forest, 3-2.

Weekend wrap: Jan. 5

McLean GAC sized Weekend wrap: Jan. 5

John McLean made 23 saves, but Gustavus Adolphus fell to No. 14 Williams last Friday night (photo: Laura Westphal/SportPix)

And the men’s Division III games kicked off in high gear this past weekend.

Yeah, a Happy New Year indeed!

Let’s see what happened at rinks across the East and West.

WEST – BRIAN LESTER

MIAC – Gustavus Adolphus didn’t start off the New Year the way it had hoped it would, falling 3-2 to No. 14 Williams on Friday night in a nonconference game. The Gusties, in the midst of an eight-game winless streak, went into the third period tied at 2-2 with the Ephs. A power-play goal by George Hunkele wiped out their hopes for a win. Blake Schammel scored his team-leading fifth goal of the year. Connor Deal also scored a goal for Gustavus, which fell to 5-5. Gustavus held a 27-26 advantage in shots and John McLean made 23 saves…Nick Marsh scored a goal for the second consecutive game, but St. Olaf fell 3-1 to nationally-ranked Williams on Saturday. The Ephs led 3-0 before Marsh put the Oles on the board. The goal was Marsh’s second of the season. The Oles were outshot 30-28 and Steve Papciak made 27 saves. St. Olaf remains winless on the season when giving up three or more goals in a game. St. Olaf lost for the third time in its last five games and has won only once since Nov. 22. The Oles are 3-9-1 on the season.

NCHA – St. Scholastica struck for nine goals in a 9-2 win over Tufts in the consolation game of the Pathfinder Bank Oswego Classic on Saturday. It marked the fourth consecutive season where the Saints have scored at least nine goals in a game. St. Scholastica owned a 33-22 edge in shots and seven players scored in the victory, including two goals apiece by Luke Simpson and Derek Sutliffe. Dylan Nowakowski dished out three assists. Corey Koop earned the win, notching 20 saves, helping the Saints improve to 8-5-0 on the year. The Saints lost 4-3 in overtime to Nazareth on Friday night after letting a 2-1 lead slip away. Steven Phee scored twice and Nowakowski tallied two assists. Tyler Bruggeman made 32 saves…Lake Forest topped Hamilton 5-3 in its first game in the Codfish Bowl at Massachusetts-Boston. The Forresters scored three goals in the third period to secure the victory. Billy Kent scored twice in the period and Bobby Barrett tallied two assists in the third. Jimmy Cusan also scored a goal in the third as the Forresters won their fifth consecutive game and improved to 7-3-2 on the year. Leo Podolsky racked up 37 saves on a day when Hamilton held a 40-28 advantage in shots.

WIAC – Wisconsin-Stevens Point would have loved to beat St. Norbert in the national championship game last season, but the No. 8 Pointers will certainly savor Saturday’s 6-5 win over the top-ranked Green Knights on the road. In last season’s title game, the Pointers fell 3-1 to the Green Knights. Stevens Point (10-2) scored three times in the second period to take a 4-1 lead. St. Norbert (10-1-1) rallied to tie the game at 4-4 before goals from Scott Henegar and Joe Kalisz pushed Stevens Point in front 6-4. Kalisz scored twice for the Pointers, who have won their last five games. Michael Hill punched in two goals for the Green Knights. The Pointers won despite being outshot 39-23. Brandon Jaeger earned the win in goal….Fourth-ranked Wisconsin-River Falls remained unbeaten after a 3-1 win over Aurora on Saturday. The Falcons are now 13-0 after Christian George scored twice off the power play and Tanner Milliron racked up 20 saves. Milliron has earned the win in every game this year. River Falls trailed 1-0 after the first period, but George tied the game at 1-1 and eventually gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead as he scored his seventh goal of the year. River Falls held a 27-21 advantage in shots and improved to 8-0 at home. On Friday, River Falls edged Aurora 4-3, setting a program record for consecutive wins as it ran its win streak to 12 games. George scored twice in the win.

EAST – DAN HICKLING

They rang in the New Year in the same way they rang out the old – with a slate of nonconference tilts.

The East’s D-III action was largely confined to participation in annual holiday tournaments. The results, particularly for the bevy of nationally-ranked teams that skated (all except No. 11 Bowdoin), were mighty interesting.

Norwich, ranked No. 2 (in the most recent poll) proved to be less than hospitable holiday hosts in its own, Northfield Savings Bank Holiday tourney. The Cadets captured the crown for the 11th time in the tourney’s 16-year run with a 4-1 triumph over Buffalo State in Saturday’s championship game. William Pelletier popped in two goals and helped on another, one day after garnering a goal and an assist in a 3-0 win over Colby. In that one, goalie Ty Reichenbach stopped 21 White Mules shots for the shutout.

No. 3 Babson skated once, and it resulted in the Beavers’ first blemish on its previously spotless record, a 2-2 overtime tie at Plymouth State. Babson had gone a perfect 11-0-0 to start the season, and might have made it an even dozen except for stellar work from PSU goalie Gordon Ceasar, who made 34 saves, including one on a penalty shot. The Beavers led 2-1 until Plymouth’s Andrew Wigg scored on a power play with 11:50 gone in the third.

Massachusetts-Boston, ranked fifth, suffered its first loss of the season, a 4-1 upset by Connecticut College in the Codfish Bowl. The Camels scored four unanswered goals, including power-play tallies in the first period by Greg Liautaud and J.C. Cangelosi. UMB had reeled off 10 straight wins to start the season.

Sixth-ranked Oswego captured its own Pathfinder Bank tournament for the third year in a row by carding wins over Tufts (4-2) and Nazareth (5-2). Mitchell Herlihey earned tourney MVP honors after racking up four points, including a goal and two assists in the championship game win over Nazareth.

Plattsburgh netminders Brady Rouleau, Ryan Hubbard and Spencer Finney didn’t allow a single goal through two games of the Cardinal Classic, but their combined efforts weren’t enough to give seventh-ranked Platty the crown in its own tournament. That distinction went to No. 15 Amherst, who battled the Birds to a 1-0 shootout win in the championship tilt Saturday. Finney made 31 saves, while Lord Jeffs’ netminder Danny Vitale stopped 38 shots through the scoreless regulation and overtime sessions. The title was finally settled by Amherst’s Dan Merenich, who beat Finney in the second shootout round. The night before, Rouleau and Hubbard hooked up for a 21-save shutout in Plattsburgh’s 5-0 win over New England College. Paul Fregeau netted his first three goals of the season to help the Cardinal cause.

Williams, ranked 14th, enjoyed a successful Western trip that netted the Ephs a 3-2 win over Gustavus Adolphus, followed by a 3-1 win over St. Olaf. Five different marksmen connected for Williams, including Tyler Young, who scored twice against the Gusties.

First picks of 2015

2012 03 17 al 3087 First picks of 2015

St. Norbert goaltender David Jacobson has only allowed eight goals this season (photo: Angelo Lisuzzo).

The year 2015 has arrived, and while there are no flying cars, hoverboards or a world dominated by robots, there is hockey again as teams return to action after the holiday break.

Our two columnists, the dual-esteemed Dan Hickling and Brian Lester, have had their share of holiday fun and are now rarin’ to get back at it, starting with their picks for this weekend’s top games.

BRIAN LESTER – WEST

The matchup of the weekend is one that features No. 1 St. Norbert playing host to No. 8 Wisconsin-Stevens Point in a rematch of last year’s national championship game.

The Pointers (9-2), winners of four consecutive games, have racked up 50 goals on the season and have given up 23. Joe Kalisz has come through with seven goals to pave the way, while Kyle Sharkey has tallied six goals.

A total of 13 players have scored at least two goals for the Pointers, who also have rock-solid goaltending with Brandon Jaeger between the pipes.

St. Norbert has been phenomenal on offense, scoring 63 goals, and their defense has been as tough to crack as a brick wall as the Green Knights have allowed only 10 goals.

Michael Hill has fueled the offense with 10 goals. The Green Knights move the puck well as a team, having tallied 94 assists, and David Jacobson has been tough in goal, giving up only eight goals this season.

Defense will decide the outcome and the edge goes to the Green Knights in what should be a tight game. St. Norbert, 3-2.

Below are a few other games on tap for the weekend ahead.

No. 14 Williams (5-2-1) vs. Gustavus Adolphus (3-4-5): The Gusties come in looking for their first win since Nov. 14th as they have tied five times in their last seven games. Offensively, Jake Bushey has paved the way, scoring four goals and dishing out three assists. The Gusties have scored 32 goals. Defense will be key. Gustavus has allowed 35 goals, with Erik Johnson giving up 32 in 11 starts. A win over a nationally-ranked opponent would be huge for a team hoping to start off the new year on the right track.

Williams comes in having won four of its last six. The Ephs have played well defensively, allowing just 30 goals behind the play of Sean Dougherty.

C.J. Shugart leads the offense with six goals and five assists. Williams has tallied 20 goals in all and if it’s on top of it’s game, it should survive this road test. Williams, 4-2.

Williams (5-2-1) vs. St. Olaf (3-8-1): The Oles won their last game before the break and want to build on that momentum as they enter the new year. They have scored at least three goals in their last three games but have also given up at least three per game during that stretch. They have allowed a total of 38 goals and Steve Papciak will have to be at his best between the pipes. Peter Lindblad leads the offense with four goals.

Williams features a balanced attack where six players have scored at least three goals. The Ephs should be able to use that to their advantage against the Oles. Williams, 5-3.

St. Mary’s (3-5-2) vs. Milwaukee School of Engineering (6-6): The Cardinals went into the break riding the high of a dominating win over Aurora and they hope the second half of the season will prove to be a successful one. St. Mary’s is led by Martin Guse, who has scored seven goals and dished out six assists. Jed McGlasson has tallied six goals and four assists. Phil Heinle has anchored the goalie spot.

The Raiders went into the break on a two-game losing streak, but before that, had won six consecutive games. This game could provide them with an opportunity to get on another roll, especially being at home, where they are 5-1 on the season. Nick LaRue has tallied four goals and three assists to pace the offense. The Raiders have the edge in this one. MSOE, 5-2.

Aurora (1-9-1) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin-River Falls (11-0): The Falcons have been sensational on both sides of the puck, scoring 45 goals and giving up 18. One of the big keys to their success has been their ability to execute on the power play. River Falls has scored 16 goals off the power play.

A total of 12 players have scored at least two goals, with Kyle Gattelaro leading the way with six goals. Ryan Doner, Mike Fazio, Blake Huppert and Alex Murphy have come through with five goals apiece. Tanner Milliron has been solid between the pipes.

The Spartans have struggled and are in the midst of a four-game winless streak. They have score only 31 goals and have given up 65. Rihards Marensis and Trevor Hoth have paced the offense with five goals apiece. River Falls simply has too much talent for Aurora to contend with and this series will end with a sweep for the Falcons, River Falls, 7-2, 5-0.

Nazareth (4-4-3) vs. St. Scholastica (7-4): The Saints dropped three of their last four before the break and need a good start to the new year. Derek Sutliffe leads St. Scholastica with six goals and six assists, while Connor Lucas and Corey Koop have both seen time in goal, with Bruggeman starting seven times and Koop four.

Nazareth hasn’t won a game since Nov. 22 and tied in its last two games before the break. The Golden Flyers are led by Dominik Gabaj, who has tallied six goals and three assists. Oliver Janzen and Rocky Gruttadauria have come through with four goals apiece. The Saints should have the edge in this one as they start off the new year with a win. St. Scholastica, 4-2.

DAN HICKLING – EAST

Friday

Hobart (6-4-0) vs Southern Maine (1-9-0) at Lake Placid – Hobart 5, USM 1
For the first time in three decades, Southern Maine will take to the ice without Jeff Beaney behind the bench. Beaney, who resigned New Year’s Eve, will be replaced in the interim by Ed Harding. Hobart should have little trouble taking advantage of the fractured situation.

Tufts (4-4-1) at #6 Oswego (7-1-2) – Oswego 5, Tufts 3
The Lakers return from break ready to roll all the way to the Frozen Four. Again. This is where it begins.

Saturday

Skidmore (2-8-1) at Nichols (6-2-2) – Nichols 5, Skidmore 2
The Bison have had ample time to consider what kind of club it is – the one who rolled to five consecutive season opening wins, or the one that mustered just one win in the five starts before the break. This should tell you what they’ve concluded.

No. 3 Babson (11-0-0) at Plymouth State (5-3-2) – Plymouth 2 Babson 1
PSU averaged better than four goals per game leading into the break. The Panthers won’t get that many against Babson, which happens to have the stingiest defense in the nation (0.73 gpg). But since the Beavers probably won’t go undefeated, this just might be the exception.

Sunday

Canton (1-9-1) at Becker (3-8-0) – Becker 7, Canton 6
With these teams, one can just picture three full periods (and perhaps a little more) of end to end rushes. There’s got to be a baker’s dozen worth of tallies in all of that.

Looking back on last weekend of 2014

jason zaleski Looking back on last weekend of 2014

Jason Zaleski tallied a hat trick in Buffalo State’s win over Johnson and Wales last Saturday (photo: Dan Hickling).

It’s time for a well-earned and well-deserved break for our two men’s D-III columnists, Dan Hickling and Brian Lester, but first, let’s run down this past weekend.

WEST

MIAC – In a showdown against nationally-ranked St. Scholastica, St. Thomas took an early lead and never looked back en route to a 4-2 non-conference victory on Saturday. Four different players scored in the win, with Willie Faust and Alex Altlenbernd each tallying their sixth goals of the season. Jordan Lovick and Connor McBride also scored. Their goals gave the Tommies an early 2-0 lead. Drew Fielding earned the win as he tallied 25 saves. The Tommies held a 29-27 edge in shots, going 2-of-5 on the power play. St. Thomas, which is 3-0-2 at home this year, improved to 5-3-3 overall…Concordia ended a three-game winless streak as it knocked off Northland 4-2 on Saturday. The Cobbers won for the first time since beating Middlebury on Nov. 28 and will head into the holiday break with a 6-4-3 record. The Cobbers pulled away in the third period, scoring twice to seal the deal. Jordie Bancroft broke the 2-2 tie and Jeremy Johnson added a goal as well in the third. It was Johnson’s second goal of the night. Andrew Deters also scored for the Cobbers, who owned a commanding 36-15 advantage in shots. Deters and Bancroft each tallied an assist as well. Jordyn Kaufer started in goal and racked up 13 saves. Kaufer improved to 2-2-2 on the season.

NCHA – Marian opened up its weekend with a 5-2 win over Superior behind two goals from Rjay Berra. Berra also tallied an assist in the win. Brodie Jamieson scored a goal and dished out two assists as the Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 6-6 on the season. Jacob Ryd and Derek Thorogood also scored for the Sabres, who held a 34-29 edge in shots. Mike Baldwin won his third game of the season has he made 27 saves. Marian didn’t have as much luck on Saturday as it lost 2-1 in a hard-fought game against nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Jamieson scored the lone goal for Marian. It was his fourth of the year. Mike Gudmandson made 26 saves. The Sabres are off until Jan. 9 when they travel to Wisconsin-Eau Claire…Finlandia picked up its second win of the year as it topped Aurora 4-2 on Friday. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Lions. Lucas Lahnals, Thomas Malkmus, Kyle Pavlack and James Devlin all scored goals for the Lions, who fashioned a 30-23 advantage in shots. Jordan Marr made 21 saves as the Lions improved to 2-10 on the season. The Lions battled Aurora again on Sunday and skated to a 2-2 tie. Devlin and Lane King both scored goals for Finlandia. Walker Enstad made 27 saves. It was the first tie of the year for the Lions.

WIAC – Eau Claire continued its dominance of the Milwaukee School of Engineering on Friday night, knocking off the Raiders 4-0. The Blugolds have won all six meetings in the series, outscoring the Raiders 42-4. The win on Friday marked the third time Eau Claire has blanked MSOE. The Blugolds scored twice on the power play, getting goals from Preston Hodge and Ethan Nauman. Nauman finished the night with two goals. Patrick Moore scored as well for the Blugolds, who held a 43-34 edge in shots and ended the Raiders’ six-game win streak. It was the fifth consecutive game in which Eau Claire did not give up a power play goal. The Raiders were 0-for-9 in power play situations. Tyler Green earned the win in goal, racking up 34 saves. The Blugolds ran their win streak to three games on Saturday with an 11-2 win over Lawrence. Eau Claire scored five power play goals in the win, with Nauman and Brandon Wahlin each scoring two of them. Ross Andersen scored on the power play as well for Eau Claire, which improved to 7-3-2 overall. Jay Deo racked up 24 saves for the win….Wisconsin-River Falls is off to its best start in program history after a 3-1 win over Hamline on Friday night. The Falcons are 11-0 and their 11-game win streak ties the record for longest win streak. It’s the first time since the 1995-96 campaign that River Falls has won 11 in a row. Tanner Milliron came through with 30 saves, although his shutout streak, which lasted more than 167 minutes, was broken in the second period. River Falls was outshot 31-22 but it didn’t matter as three players scored in the win. Mike Fazio, Michael Williams and Russ Jordan all scored for the Falcons. The goal by Jordan was the first of his career. River Falls is 20-3-1 all-time against Hamline and this marks the second time this season that the Falcons have beaten the Pipers. River Falls improved to 6-0 at home and won’t play again until Jan. 2nd when it takes on Aurora in the first meeting between the two programs.

EAST

Not much weekend action in the East and what few games were played were all out of conference.

Nonetheless, there were some notable performances that sent their respective teams into the Christmas break on a high note … In Fredonia, Hunter Long scored his third goal of the season with 5:07 gone in the third period to lead FSU to a 2-1 squeaker over Johnson and Wales Friday. Goalie Jeff Flagler stopped 36 of 37 to give the Blue Devils their second win of the season. … The next afternoon, J & W stopped off in Buffalo and were bested again, this time by Buff State by a 5-3 count. Jason Zaleski scored three goals for the Bengals, and Ryan Salkeld added two more. … Hamilton rallied from a goal down three different times and eked out a 3-3 overtime tie with visiting Cortland, Friday. Pat Curtis netted the deadlocker with just 40 seconds remaining in regulation. … Also, Friday, Curry handed host Potsdam a 4-2 loss after the Bears had mounted a third period rally with goals by Billy Pascalli and Jake Rivera. Adam DiBrina’s empty netter with 26 seconds remaining sealed the deal for the Colonels. … On Saturday, Curry’s Jordan Reed scored twice (Nos. 8 and 9) in a 5-4 win over Canton. … Plymouth State went winless in its two starts, playing to a 4-4 overtime tie at New England College, then losing to Castleton State 4-3 in overtime. Josh Woody scored at 14:05 of the third, allowing the Panthers to salvage the tie with NEC. The next day, Castleton freshman Ryan Smith picked an opportune time to net his first varsity goal, at 1:32 of the extra session, which finished off the Panthers. … Lastly, Framingham State gave up four unanswered special teams goals to D-II Franklin Pierce to fall 5-3.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Last picks before the ho-ho-holidays

deters2 Last picks before the ho ho holidays

Andrew Deters hopes he’s doing this at some point over the weekend for Concordia (Minn.) (photo: Bruce Post).

The holiday break is closing in, but first, there are a few more hockey games to play.

BRIAN LESTER

One of the biggest matchups of the weekend is a nonconference battle between St. Thomas and No. 14 St. Scholastica.

The Tommies are hosting the Saints with a chance to make a statement. They come into the game at 4-3-3 overall and hope to head into the break on a high note.

St. Thomas has scored 40 goals and Alex Altenbernd and Willie Faust have led the way with five goals apiece. Drew Fielding owns a 1.52 goals-against average.

The Saints are back on track after a two-game losing streak and come in at 7-3. They have been solid offensively as well, scoring 34 goals, and Derek Sutliffe leads the way with six. Luke Simpson and Dylan Nowakowski have tallied five goals apiece.

Opportunities could be limited in a game like this, and the team that can capitalize first and limit mistakes on defense will come out on top. St. Thomas has the edge at home, where it has yet to lose. St. Thomas, 3-2.

Below are a few other matchups on the weekend schedule:

Hamline (4-3-3) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin-River Falls (10-0): The Pipers are no doubt a much improved team, and this game provides an opportunity for revenge. Back in early November, Hamline lost 5-2 at home to the Falcons.

The Pipers have not lost in their last five games, tying three opponents, and they will look to keep that momentum going on the road. Kevin Novakovich leads the Pipers with six goals, while John Sellie-Hanson has come up big in goal. Generating early offense is going to be key against the Falcons on the road.

River Falls is one of the hottest teams in the nation and has blanked its last two opponents, including a 4-0 win over No. 11 St. John’s on Tuesday.

Tanner Milliron owns a 1.69 goals-against average. If he is on top of his game, the Falcons will be tough to beat. Not to mention the offense is balanced, producing 42 goals, including six by Kyle Gattelaro. Hamline will play hard, but River Falls is going to be too tough to stop at home. River Falls, 4-2.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (6-4) vs. No. 13 Wisconsin-Eau Claire (5-3-2): The Raiders roll into Eau Claire having won their last six, and this game is no doubt an opportunity to make a statement against a nationally ranked opponent.

MSOE is 0-4 against ranked teams this season, but certainly has the talent to win this game. Omar Mullen has paved the way with nine goals and nine assists. The Raiders have scored 39 goals on the year and have struck for five or more in three of their last four games. The key is finding a way to win away from home – MSOE is 1-4 on the road.

The Blugolds have won two of their last three and have lost only once at home. Ethan Nauman has led the offense with seven goals and four assists, while Eau Claire has taken advantage of its depth at goalie to play well defensively.

Eau Claire has given up 22 goals. Tyler Green and Jay Deo have each played in five games between the pipes. This should be a hard-fought game, but I think the Blugolds find a way to get the job done. Eau Claire, 4-3.

Northland (1-10-1) vs. Concordia (Minn.) (5-4-3): The Cobbers are seeking their first win since the end of November and hope to earn it this weekend when they host the Lumberjacks.

Concordia will look to get its offense going after scoring no more than two goals in its last three outings. Jordie Bancroft and Andrew Deters have been instrumental to the success of the offense. Bancroft has scored eight goals and Deters has come through with five. The Cobbers have scored 34 overall and Alex Reichle has been solid in goal.

Northland has lost three consecutive games and hasn’t won a game since beating Lake Forest 4-3 on Nov. 8. The Lumberjacks have been led by Darius Cole, who has tallied five goals and five assists. Michael Berens has come through with five goals and four assists.

The Lumberjacks will need to step up on defense to have a shot at beating the Cobbers. Northland has allowed 59 goals, with Tyler Ampe and Jesse Dillio splitting time between the pipes. Dillio has played in eight games and Ampe has played in six. Concordia is the better team and should have no problem winning this game, Concordia, 6-3.

DAN HICKLING

Friday

Cortland (5-6-1) @ Hamilton (3-3-1) – Hamilton 5, Cortland 4
Both are fair to middlin’ teams that have scored wins over ranked opponents (Cortland over Geneseo and Hamilton over Williams). This one could come down to special teams – Cortland’s PP vs. Hamilton’s PK. Oh, and here’s a fun fact for you – Cortland freshman forward Darren McCormick (2-16-18) leads the nation in assists.

Plymouth State (5-2-1) @ New England College (3-5-1) – Plymouth 5, NEC 2
One thing is certain. Plymouth goalie Gordon Ceasar will not have to make 66 saves.

Saturday

Johnson and Wales (5-3-1) @ Buffalo State (2-6-2) – Buff State 4, J&W 3
The Bengals (shut out in three straight) broke their scoring schneid last week and the sticks should be hot for another cold day in December.

Curry (4-5-1) @ Canton (1-8-1) – Canton 4, Curry 3
Canton endures the rough life of an independent, but this time should be rewarded for its patience.

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