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Weekend West picks: Jan. 22-23

The college hockey season is flying by and it’s time to take a stab at making predictions for some of the games on the schedule this week.

The featured game, of course, is the showdown between top-ranked St. Norbert and No. 2 Adrian.

Concordia (Minn.) and Augsburg square off in a key MIAC battle and Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the favorite in the WIAC, will take on Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Wisconsin-River Falls over the weekend.

St. John’s (6-9-2, 4-4) vs. Bethel (2-10-2, 1-5)

The Johnnies are just 2-5-1 at home and have a golden opportunity to get their third home win of the season this weekend. Huba Sekesi leads the offense with six goals and seven assists, while Sean Lang has come through with five goals and three assists. Saxton Soley is 3-8-2 in 14 starts this year. He owns a 2.61 GAA.

Bethel is coming off a big week after earning a tie against River Falls and beating Superior. The win was the first for the Royals since November. Travis Payne will need to be at his best for the Royals to win. He scored six goals last week and has 10 goals on the season. Payne has also dished out five assists.

St. John’s, 4-2.

Augsburg (9-6, 5-1) vs. Concordia (Minn.) (7-7-1, 5-1)

Augsburg is looking to get back on track after dropping its last two games. The Auggies enter the weekend just three points out of first in the conference standings. Nate Flynn leads the Augsburg attack with 10 goals and 10 assists while Rory Vesel has come through with a goal and 12 assists. Jordyn Kaufer has been solid in goal, winning eight games and making 292 saves.

Concordia is also in second place and needs to take advantage of being on its home ice for this series. The Cobbers are 2-2 at home and are led by Jon Grebosky, who has come through with eight goals and 10 assists. Alex Reichle is 7-7 on the year in goal and has made 385 saves. Goaltending could be the difference in this one.

Concordia, 5-3, Augsburg, 4-3

Adrian (14-1-1, 10-1-1) vs. St. Norbert (13-1-1, 9-1-0)

It doesn’t get any bigger in the regular season than a showdown between the the top teams in the country. There will no doubt be a playoff feel to this one as the Bulldogs and Green Knights square off in a pivotal NCHA battle.

Adrian owns the longest unbeaten streak in the nation at any level of college hockey, getting through its last 15 games without a loss. The stretch includes 11 consecutive wins. Mathew Thompson leads the conference in goals with 14. He has also dished out 14 assists. The Bulldogs have scored 92 goals in all while allowing only 30.

St. Norbert has won five consecutive games and is unbeaten in its last 13 games overall. The Green Knights feature one of the top goaltenders in the country in Tony Kujava, who is 10-0-0 with a conference-best 1.07 GAA. St. Norbert has given up only 19 goals all year while scoring 75.

This series will be a test of wills and while at least one tie is likely, I’m guessing it ends in a split.

St. Norbert, 3-2; Adrian, 5-4.

St. Scholastica (9-4-2, 7-3) vs. Lawrence (6-8-1, 5-4-1)

The Saints head out on the road for two games against the Vikings for a key NCHA series. They have played well away from home this year, fashioning a 4-2-1 record. Brandon Millin is having a solid year, scoring 11 goals and dishing out 10 assists, while Dylan Nowakowski has come through with five goals and 17 assists. If those two are on top of their games, the Saints will be tough to stop.

Lawrence heads into the weekend with momentum, having won its last two games. The Vikings are 4-3 at home and have an opportunity to make a statement against a nationally ranked opponent. Renato Engler is having a great year, tallying seven goals and 10 assists in 15 games. Mattias Soderqvist is 6-6 with a 3.80 GAA.

Lawrence, 3-2; St. Scholastica, 5-2.

Stevens Point (12-3-1, 1-1) vs. Eau Claire (11-4-2, 1-1)

This matchup pits two of the best in the nation as Stevens Point comes in ranked third in the country while Eau Claire is 10th. The Pointers are riding a six-game win streak, scoring four or more goals in each of those wins. Joe Kalisz and Lawrence Cornellier have fueled the attack with 12 and 11 goals, respectively. They have combined for 20 assists as well.

Eau Claire has won four of five, with two of those games being decided by one goal. Adam Knochenmus has been sensational offensively, punching in 16 goals and dishing out eight assists. Garrett Clement has come through with six goals and 14 assists.

Eau Claire, 5-4.

River Falls (11-4-3, 2-0) vs. Stevens Point (12-3-1, 1-1)

The Pointers will be on their home ice for this one. They have lost only once there all season. Goaltending could be the difference in this matchup. Max Milosek has started 12 games and is 9-2-1 on the year. He owns a 1.99 GAA.

River Falls is unbeaten in its last 10, winning eight times during that stretch, and Tanner Milliron has helped lead the way with solid play between the pipes. He is 9-4-3 with a 1.78 GAA. Kyle Gattelaro anchors the offense with seven goals and seven assists.

Stevens Point, 5-3.

Weekend wrap: Jan. 17

Trevor Fleurent scored the overtime winner Friday for the University of New England to upset Norwich and keep the Nor’easters unbeaten in their last 10 games, including six wins in a row that have vaulted them into fourth place in the NEHC standings. (photo: David Bates/Fotografix Studio).

So we are already halfway through January and the conference competition is heating up with many leaders are being challenged by teams looking to make their presence known.

Nonconference games, while not worth points in the standings, are important in building a resume for national consideration, but more importantly, building a level of consistency that will help any team compete for conference glory over the final weeks of the season.

Upsets abounded again this week and the biscuit winners really earned their recognition.

Here is the East recap:

ECAC Northeast
Four different goal scorers and 25 saves from Kevin Aldridge moved Endicott closer to league leader Nichols, who dropped their first game in conference play to Suffolk by a 5-2 score. Justin Selep scored two goals, including one shorthanded, to back senior Brandon Smolarek’s 32 saves in moving Suffolk into a tie at the top on points, while the Bison have a game in hand on the Rams.

Becker’s Nicholas McKee scored the game winning goal just 33 seconds after Kyle Lebrun had tied the game for Wentworth early in the third period. Tyler Stepke made the lead stand up with 14 third period saves.

ECAC West
Hobart and Elmira joined ECAC Northeast schools Salve Regina and Curry in the first Vineyard Classic played on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Hobart took the title by downing Curry in the opening round by a score of 4-2 before downing Salve Regina in the championship game by a 2-1 score. The Seahawks earned the place in the final by downing Elmira 3-1. Special teams and goaltending owned the first two periods of the final before Vincent Russo’s goal with just under three minutes in regulation provided the winner for the Statesmen by a 2-1 score.

In a nonconference game that saw a total of 86 shots on goal, Mike Davis set up linemate Jory Mullin before he scored his second of the game for Neumann with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to earn a hard fought 5-5 tie with Geneseo.

MASCAC
Plymouth State earned a 4-2 win over Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Thursday, but stumbled on Saturday to a Salem State team that is hot on their trail for the top spot in the conference standings. The Vikings outshot PSU by a 41-28 margin and broke open a tie game with three unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes for the win.

Westfield State dropped four important points with a 10-4 loss to visiting Fitchburg State before losing to UMD on Saturday by a 4-2 score. Cameron Snyder finished with six points for the Falcons as they scored nine times in the first two periods of play against the Owls. Linemates John Celli and Nat Rojas chipped in with five and four points, respectively, as the big line combined for four goals and 15 points.

NE-10
In one of the wilder games of the weekend, Morrisville won a 7-6 overtime battle with Southern New Hampshire that saw the home team rally from 5-0 and 6-2 deficits in the third period to force overtime where Danny Liscio scored the winner for the Mustangs. Darren Young was the offensive star with four goals in the game, which also were his first four goals on the season.

NEHC
As is often the case, the travel partner games between Babson and Massachusetts-Boston usually find the visitor taking the win on each of the two nights. This year was no different as Babson handed the Beacons their first loss in conference play with a 3-2 win at the Clark Center on Friday night. Saturday saw the Beacons return the favor with a 4-1 win led by two goals from Colin Larkin.

UNE had another four-point weekend, including an overtime upset of Norwich at Kreitzberg Arena by a score of 4-3. The Nor’easters rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force the extra session where Trevor Fleurent won it with under a minute remaining in overtime. UNE followed the big win up with a 4-1 over St. Michael’s, while Norwich had to go to overtime for a second game in a row where they eked out a 1-0 win over Southern Maine.

Another crazy game on the weekend saw Skidmore’s Anthony Bird score the game tying goal with the extra attacker on the ice and just half a second left on the clock in a 6-6 tie with New England College.

NESCAC
Trinity took an important four points in conference play by downing Colby 4-3 and Bowdoin 3-1. Ethan Holdaway and Ryan Cole potted two goals each on the weekend for the Bantams.

Amherst broke back into the win column with a 4-2 win over Tufts where four different players scored goals for the Lord Jeffs.

Wesleyan picked up a pair of points with yet another pair of ties, giving them a total of seven ties on the season. The Cardinals rallied from two goals down to tie Bowdoin 3-3 behind three points from James Kline and scored an extra-attacker goal on Saturday with just 46 seconds remaining to tie Colby 2-2.

SUNYAC
Third-ranked Plattsburgh made a road trip through NESCAC for a pair of nonconference games against Middlebury and Williams. Friday saw the Cardinals’ Michael Radisa score twice to break open a scoreless tie in a 3-0 win. On Saturday, Plattsburgh outshoot Williams by a 45-10 margin, including 19-1 in the first period, but they could not get enough past the Ephs’ Michael Pinios, who made 43 saves and got some help from David Italiano, who scored twice for the home team, including the game winner less than one minute into overtime.

Weekend Biscuits
Michael Pinios, Williams – the Ephs’ goaltender stood up to an offensive barrage from Plattsburgh by making 43 saves, including 18 in the first period where his team was outshot 19-1 to keep them in the game. Williams rallied for a 3-2 overtime win.

Cameron Snyder, Fitchburg State – the forward led his line with two goals and four assists for six points in the Falcons 10-4 win over Westfield State on Thursday night. Snyder’s line finished the game with a 4-11-15 line in the boxscore.

Darren Young, Morrisville – the forward broke into the goal scoring column in a big way netting his first four goals on the season in a 7-6 win for the Mustangs over Southern New Hampshire.

WEST WRAP – Brian Lester

MIAC

In one of the biggest games of the weekend, St. Thomas knocked off nationally ranked Eau Claire 2-0 to make a statement in the non-conference showdown. It marked the first time all season the seventh-ranked Blugolds have been kept off the scoreboard. Joe Morris stopped all 36 of the shots he faced en route to the win. The Tommies capitalized on a pair of power play goals to earn the victory. Willie Faust scored one in the first period and Joakim Broberg scored one in the second. St. Thomas improved to 9-6-2 on the year while Eau Claire fell to 11-4-2 … St. John’s earned a split in its weekend series with St. Olaf, winning 7-2 Saturday. The Johnnies fell 4-2 to the Oles Friday. St. John’s scored five third-period goals en route to the win in the series finale. Daniel Tripicchio dished out a career-best three assists. Kevin Becker and Huba Sekesi each came through with a goal and an assist. The goal was the sixth of the year for Sekesi. Saxton Soley made 19 saves and is now 4-9-2 on the year. The win was the 42nd of his career. He ranks third all-time in school history in wins. In the 4-2 loss Friday, Nick Marsh scored twice for the Oles. Ole Stetsaas also scored twice for St. Olaf. Connor Kelly and Sean Lang both scored for the Johnnies … Bethel came through with a 6-2 win over Wisconsin-Superior Saturday to end its five-game winless streak. The Royals raced out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. Travis Payne fueled the early attack as he scored three first-period goals en route to the hat trick. It caps off a big week where he scored a total of six goals, with five coming in the first period of play. Jesse Garcia made 33 saves for the Royals to earn his second win of the year. The win for Bethel was its second of the season as it improves to 2-10-2.

St. Scholastica and goaltender Tyler Bruggeman shut out MSOE last Friday night (photo: St. Scholastica Athletics).

NCHA

Adrian continued its dominance of the NCHA as it swept Lake Forest over the weekend. The Bulldogs topped the Foresters 5-1 Friday and finished off the sweep with an 8-3 win. Mathew Thompson came through with a hat trick Saturday, scoring two of his three goals during a five-goal second period. The second-ranked Bulldogs own the nation’s longest unbeaten streak at any level of college hockey, getting through their last 15 games without a loss. They are 14-1-1 overall and 10-1-1 in the NCHA. Thompson also dished out an assist in the win. Dillon Kelley made his second career start in goal for the Bulldogs and racked up 25 saves. It’s a new career-high for the sophomore goaltender. Thompson scored a goal and dished out two assists in Friday’s victory. Tyler Parks won his fourth game in goal, making a season-best 32 saves. The stage is now set for a showdown with top-ranked St. Norbert this coming weekend. Both games will be played in Wisconsin … The Milwaukee School of Engineering salvaged a split in its weekend series with St. Scholastica, winning 3-2 Saturday. An empty-net goal by Clint Garris in the third period served as the game-winner for the Raiders, who are now 10-5- overall and 5-5 in the conference. Nick LaRue and Omar Mullan also scored goals for the Raiders. The Saints came through with a 2-0 win over the Raiders in the opening game of the series. Tyler Bruggeman got the shutout as he racked up 20 saves. It was his eighth win of the year. Keegan Bruce and Derek Sutliffe both scored goals for the Saints, who improved to 9-3-1 overall and 7-2 in the conference … Top-ranked St. Norbert blasted Finlandia 7-1 and 8-0 to complete a weekend sweep in NCHA action. Pijus Rulevicius scored twice for the Green Knights Saturday, pushing his goal total to nine for the season. Nick LeSage also scored a pair of goals Saturday. St. Norbert is 13-1-1 overall and 9-1 in the conference. The Green Knights are unbeaten in their last 13 games. They have won five consecutive games.

WIAC

Wisconsin-River Falls skated to a 3-0 win over Gustavus Adolphus Saturday in a nonconference game. The Falcons improved to 11-4-3 on the year. Joe Drapluk, Christian George and Kyle Gattelaro all scored goals for River Falls. George tallied an assist on the goal by Gattelaro. Tanner Milliron was again impressive as he made 18 saves to nail down the shutout win. He is now 9-4-3 on the season. He has come up with two shutout wins in the last three games. The Falcons are unbeaten in their last seven games … Wisconsin-Stevens Point cruised to a convincing 4-1 win over Augsburg. The win was the sixth in the row for the reigning national runner-up. Tanner Karty scored twice in the victory. He has three goals in all this season. Jacob Barber and Jono Davis also scored for the Pointers, who finish 8-0 against the MIAC this season. Max Milosek earned the win in goal by making 25 saves. It was his ninth victory of the year … Wisconsin-Stout pushed its win streak to three games Saturday with a 6-3 win over St. Mary’s. The Blue Devils scored five or more goals for the third consecutive game. Jake Useldinger struck for two goals in the victory. He now has eight on the year. The Blue Devils improved to 9-4-3 on the year. They opened the weekend with a 5-3 win over St. Thomas. Gavin Smith scored his first collegiate goal in the victory. Useldinger also scored in the win.

Weekend West picks: Jan. 15-16

We’ve reached the midway point of January and here are the picks for this week’s games.

The West slate includes a nonconference showdown between Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Augsburg.

Eau Claire (10-3-2) vs. Augsburg (9-4)

The Auggies are one of the hottest teams in hockey, having won their last five, and they have scored at least five goals in each of those wins. Nate Flynn leads the attack with 10 goals and 10 assists and Rory Vessel has tallied a goal and 11 assists. Jordyn Kaufer is having a solid season, winning eight games and fashioning a 2.44 GAA.

The Blugolds are also playing well, riding a three-game win streak into the matchup. They have cranked out 68 goals this year, including 16 by Adam Knochenmus, and have gotten solid goaltending play out of both Tyler Green and Jay Deo.

The team that plays the best defense will come out on top.

Eau Claire, 3-2.

Concordia (Minn.) (6-6-1, 4-0) vs. Hamline (4-7-4, 1-4-1)

The Cobbers have just one win in their last five and are looking to get back on track and stay in the hunt for a MIAC title. Jon Grebosky leads the team in goals scored with six, while Alex Reichle is 6-6 in 12 starts in goal. Concordia needs to be on top of its game offensively to sweep this series.

Hamline is winless in its last six and is searching for its first win since Nov. 25 when it defeated Wisconsin-Superior 3-1. Charlie Adams will be instrumental to the Pipers’ success this weekend. He has scored 10 goals and dished out 16 assists this season. Brandon Zurn will be counted on as well. He has 11 goals and 15 assists for the Pipers, who played in the NCAA tournament last year.

I think Hamline gets at least one win this weekend.

Concordia 5-3, Hamline 4-3.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point (10-3-1) vs. St. Mary’s (7-6-2)

The Pointers have won four consecutive games, scoring at least five goals in each of those games, and feature two players with double-digit goal totals. Joe Kalisz has tallied 12 goals and 12 assists while Lawrence Cornellier has come through with 11 goals and four assists. Stevens Point has struck for 69 goals in all and will be tough to slow down.

The Cardinals are eager to bounce back after dropping four of their last five. They have the offensive firepower to do it, having racked up 67 goals this year. Bob Kinne and Martin Gruse lead the attack with nine goals apiece. Both players have tallied nine assists apiece as well.

Stevens Point, 6-3.

Wisconsin-Stout (7-4-3) vs. St. Thomas (8-5-2)

The Blue Devils have shown promise, winning three of their last four, and they will head out on the road hoping to make a statement against one of the nation’s most successful programs. Balance will be the key to their success. The offense features seven players who have scored at least three goals. Joe Anderson leads the way with six on the season.

The Tommies are tough at home, fashioning a 4-1 record on their own ice, and they are balanced as well as nine players have come through with at least three goals. Connor McBride leads the attack with eight goals and four assists.

This one should be close but St. Thomas gets the edge at home.

St. Thomas, 4-2.

Lake Forest (6-7, 4-6) vs. Adrian (12-1-1, 8-1-1)

The Foresters have won three of four, earning a split with nationally ranked Milwaukee School of Engineering last week, but the challenge becomes even more difficult this week. Lake Forest will be up against the No. 2 team in the nation and will need to be sharp defensively. Leo Podolsky is 5-5 with a 3.26 goals against average. Billy Kent leads the offense with seven goals.

Adrian is a force to be reckoned with. The Bulldogs are on a nine-game win streak and show no signs of slowing down. They have more than doubled the goal total of Lake Forest, striking for 79 goals, and they won’t be easy to keep in check this weekend. Mathew Thompson is having a tremendous year, punching in 10 goals to go along with 11 assists.

Adrian, 8-3.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (9-4, 4-4) vs. St. Scholastica (8-3-1, 6-2)

The Raiders have won five of six and want to keep that momentum rolling. Gage Christianson has been a tremendous play-maker, dishing out 14 assists. He has also scored twice. Omar Mullan has been a key part of the offense, scoring six goals and dishing out four assists.

The Saints are on a two-game win streak and are 4-1-1 at home this season. Brandon Millin has been an integral part of the offense, coming up with nine goals and eight assists. Stephen Phee has struck for seven goals and six assists this year.

This should be one of the more exciting matchups to watch this weekend.

MSOE, 5-3, St. Scholastica, 6-4.

Weekend East picks: Jan. 14-16

The good news is there are still a few weekends to start making some solid picks, including that outright upset.

The bad news is it is getting harder and harder to pick those upsets as the stakes get higher in the second half for all of the teams.

The picks for last week missed out on a couple of upset opportunities as well as some surprising nonconference results leaving me a the .500 mark at 3-3-1 (.500) for the weekend. That brings the season record to 28-19-7 (.594), which has me holding steady just below the 60 percent success threshold.

It’s time to buckle down and get some positive momentum going.

Here are my picks for the East this week:

Thursday, Jan. 14

Plymouth State @ Massachusetts-Dartmouth
Dare I go back to the scene of last week’s crime? I don’t expect the Panthers to take a resurgent Corsair squad lightly in this conference matchup. Hetland Arena is a tough place to play, but coach Craig Russell needs just to point to last Thursday at Curry for all the motivation his team needs to maintain their conference leadership – Plymouth State 3, UMD 2.

Friday, Jan. 15

Hobart @ Curry
The thought of a trip to Martha’s Vineyard during the summer months is truly a vacation dream. Going there in mid-January will make it that much easier to focus on the hockey to play in the first Vineyard Classic. Hobart has just too much firepower for the feisty Colonels in round one – Hobart 5, Curry 1.

Elmira @ Salve Regina
The other opening round matchup for the Vineyard Classic finds both teams playing well after the break, so anything goes. Based on last week, the Soaring Eagles should be wary of the second period where the Seahawks scored eight times in two games last week. Four for the game is good, but not quite enough – Elmira 5, Salve Regina 4.

Babson @ Massachusetts-Boston
The Beacons have created some distance between themselves and Babson and Norwich chasing them atop the standings. This weekend’s home-and-home series with their travel partner could go a long way in helping them towards a first regular-season title. The Beavers always play well at the Clark Center and aren’t going away anytime soon – Babson 3, UMB 2.

Buffalo State @ Johnson and Wales
The long bus ride is so much better when the game outcome comes out in a positive way. The Bengals may be catching the Wildcats at an opportune time as they are still trying to find their stout defensive game – Buffalo State 4, J & W 3.

Saturday, Jan. 16

Hamilton @ Connecticut College
The Continentals have been getting great goaltending and balanced scoring while playing a solid three-zone game. Expect much of the same here against a determined Camel squad that keeps it close at home – Hamilton 3, Conn College 1.

Becker @ Wentworth
This ECAC Northeast game features a couple of teams that when they get it going can play some really good hockey and that consistency is what both teams are looking for. No time like the present to pick up a couple of important points in the standings – Wentworth 5, Becker 4.

The games may be all about momentum building and not just the two points in the standings – drop the puck!

Weekend wrap: Jan. 11

Danny Liscio led Morrisville to a 7-5 win over Becker last weekend with a hat trick on Saturday night (photo: Steve Samoyedny/Four Seasons Photography).

Everyone is back into the swing of the second half and so it should not be surprising that this past weekend saw a bit of everything in both league and nonconference matchups.

Of course, there were the usual upsets, but also a couple of 0-0 ties, numerous and unique hat tricks from players leading their teams to wins and even an unassisted goal scored by a netminder.

Yup, this weekend had it all and should be a portent of the craziness ahead.

Here’s the East recap:

ECAC Northeast

Curry took a pair of impressive nonconference wins to start off the second half with some great positive momentum. Brett Sinclair earned both wins in goal for the Colonels, making 70 saves in wins over nationally-ranked Plymouth State on Thursday night and Potsdam from the SUNYAC on Saturday. Tyler Vankleef led the way offensively for Curry, potting a pair of goals in each game.

Salve Regina used the same formula on back-to-back nights in producing 5-1 and 5-2 wins over Johnson and Wales and Stonehill, respectively. Deadlocked at 1-1 after the first period of both games, the Seahawks scored four unanswered goals in the middle stanza on both Friday and Saturday to put their opponents away.

Nichols blew 2-0 and 3-2 leads on the road against Cortland in a 4-3 non-onference loss to the Red Dragons, while Endicott went 0-for-8 on the power play and lost to Tufts 6-1 despite outshooting the Jumbos by a 45-30 margin. Brian Brown and Nick Flanagan had a pair of goals apiece, while Nik Nugnes made 40 saves in the win.

ECAC West

Hobart flexed some muscle against nonconference opponents over the weekend, posting a 7-1 win over Geneseo on Friday and backed it up with a 9-2 rout of Brockport on Saturday night. Ben Gamache picked up six points in the two games, while fellow Statesmen forward Nick Bingaman added five points, including three goals in the wins over SUNYAC opponents.

Elmira played the same two SUNYAC opponents on opposite nights and matched Hobart’s success, picking up a 4-3 win over Brockport and a 5-1 win over Geneseo led by Carter Shinkaruk’s hat trick that moves him to 14 goals on the season.

MASCAC

Westfield State won a huge nonconference game on Thursday by taking down nationally-ranked Nichols by a 3-1 score. The Owls couldn’t keep the momentum going on Saturday as they dropped a hard-fought battle to Salem State by a 2-1 score, solidifying the Vikings’ second-place position in the standings.

Casey Shea, last year’s Rookie of the Year in the MASCAC, shook off some first-half inconsistency and scored four goals in Massachusetts-Dartmouth’s 6-2 conference win over Worcester State. The win moved the Corsairs over .500 in conference play to start the second half.

NE-10

Brandon Bete scored his 13th goal of the season and added two assists for Assumption in their 6-0 win over Western New England. The Ice Dogs outshot the Golden Bears by a 62-36 margin and Nick Commesso stopped all 36 WNE shots for his second shutout of the season.

NEHC

The Beacons of Massachusetts-Boston stand alone unbeaten and untied atop the NEHC standings following weekend wins over New England College and St. Anselm by 6-5 and 6-4 scores, respectively. The four-point weekend opened up some room from their next nearest competitor as Babson stumbled on the road, collecting just one point in a 2-2 tie with NEC before losing at St. A’s by a 1-0 score. Goalie Shayne Joyce earned the shutout for the Hawks making 25 saves and making Brendon Kerrigan’s first-period goal stand up as the game winner.

UNE picked up a weekend sweep and four big points with one goal wins over Castleton and Skidmore. Dylan Bengston was the hero in Friday’s overtime win over Castleton by assisting on the game-tying goal in the third period before scoring the game winner just 19 seconds into the extra session. All was not lost for the Spartans, who rallied on Saturday for their first league win, downing Southern Maine by a 5-1 score.

NESCAC

The Continentals may be flying under the radar for some in NESCAC but after securing a crucial four points on the road against Colby and Bowdoin, Hamilton’s 8-3-1 record is surely going to garner them some more attention. Evan Buitenhuis picked up both wins in goal for the Continentals, while Robbie Murden scored twice for his team-leading tenth goal in the 4-2 win at Bowdoin on Saturday.

Williams remains at the top of the league standings following two home wins over Trinity and Wesleyan by identical 3-2 and 3-1 scores. Trinity salvaged a split by handing Middlebury its first loss in conference play with a 3-2 overtime win. Sean Orlando netted the game winner for the Bantams on the power play less than a minute into the overtime period.

SUNYAC

It was a difficult weekend for most of the teams in nonconference play. Plattsburgh followed up a tough loss at Norwich with a resounding 8-2 win over Canton.

Oswego was stalemated at Utica in a 0-0 overtime tie (one of two 0-0 games on Friday night – Amherst at Bowdoin finished at 0-0) where both Michael Fredrick for Utica and Matt Zawadzki for Oswego were stellar in goal for their respective teams. On Saturday, Oswego fell to Nazareth by a 3-1 score. The Golden Flyers were led by two goals from C.J. Murray.

Weekend Biscuits

Justin Selep, Suffolk – the Rams’ forward picked up a rather unique hat trick by scoring one goal on the power play, one goal shorthanded, the game winner and the hat trick goal with an empty net to ensure the 5-3 win over Franklin Pierce on Saturday – not a 5-on-5 goal among the troika for Selep and only one even strength goal total for the Rams in the win.

Tyler Bishop, Massachusetts-Boston – the Beacons’ defenseman helped keep their conference record a clean slate by doubling his season output of goals with a hat trick that included the overtime game winner against New England College. Bishop scored once in each of the first two periods before his game winner just over a minute into the overtime session.

William Pelletier, Norwich – He’s baaaaack! What a difference this repeat biscuit winner is making for the Cadets in just three games back he has totaled 13 points including a third period hat trick in Norwich’s 6-3 come from behind win over Plattsburgh on Friday night. Pelletier added an assist on the tying goal in the second period to make it a four point night.

Bonus Biscuits

Danny Liscio, Morrisville – this week finds a pair of bonus biscuits starting with Liscio, whose hat trick led the Mustangs to a 7-5 win over Becker that wasn’t decided until the home team broke a 5-5 tie in the third period for the win.

Ryan Mulder, Castleton – the Spartans’ goalie made 24 saves and helped out his team offensively by scoring an unassisted goal to cap off a 5-1 win over Southern Maine. The empty-netter was the first by a D-III goalie since Alex Larson scored for Nichols in 2013.

WEST WRAP – Brian Lester

MIAC

St. Thomas and St. Mary’s split their weekend MIAC series. The Cardinals won the opener 4-3 but the Tommies bounced back with a 6-2 win on Saturday. The win by St. Mary’s marked the first time since 2004 that the Cardinals have beaten the Tommies. St. Thomas was 19-0-3 in the last 22 games against St. Mary’s. Martin Gruse scored twice for the Cardinals in the win Friday. Nick Albergo came through with the game-winner with less than three minutes left in the third period. It was a different story Saturday as the Tommies scored three goals in the opening period en route to the win. St. Thomas improved to 8-5-2 overall and to 6-2 in the conference to stay on top of the standings. St. Mary’s dropped to 7-6-2 overall and to 4-3-1 in the MIAC. Connor McBride paved the way as he scored three goals for the Tommies … Augsburg remained in second place in the conference standings with a sweep of Bethel over the weekend. The Auggies topped the Royals 5-2 and 6-4. The Auggies are one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment as they have won five consecutive games. Nate Flynn paved the way in the finale, scoring twice and dishing out an assist as Augsburg won for the eighth time in the last nine games. Augsburg is now 9-4 overall and 5-1 in the conference. Bethel fell to 1-10-1 overall and to 1-5 in the MIAC. Jordyn Kaufer made 20 saves for the win. Flynn has scored 10 goals this season, the fourth-most in the conference. Drew Allen scored a shorthanded goal in the win. It’s the sixth time this season that the Auggies have scored at least one shorthanded goal. They lead the country in that category.

WIAC

Behind the first shutout of the year by Tanner Milliron, Wisconsin-River Falls knocked off Concordia (Minn.) 1-0 Saturday in a nonconference game. Mike Dietrich scored the lone goal in the win over the Cobbers as the Falcons pushed their record to 10-4-2 on the season. Milliron has won eight games this year. He made 23 saves in the victory. River Falls has won its last five games overall. It defeated St. John’s 3-1 on Friday. Mike Williams, Eddie Matsushima and Cory Lushanko all scored goals for the Falcons as they opened the weekend on a high note … Wisconsin-Eau Claire edged St. Olaf 4-3 Saturday as it capped off a 2-0 weekend. The Blugolds smashed Gustavus Adolphus 9-1 on Friday and they have won their last three games overall. Eau Claire is 10-3-2 overall on the season. The nine goals against Gustavus is the second-most Eau Claire has scored this season against an opponent. David Henry, Jesse Tredinnick, Adam Knochenmus and Derek Knetter all scored for Eau Claire in the win over the Oles. Knochenmus now has 16 goals on the year. Jay Deo earned the win as he stopped 27 shots. He is 4-1-1 on the season.

NCHA

Lawrence played well in a weekend series with Concordia (Wis.), winning the opener 2-0 before playing the Falcons to a 2-2 tie in the finale. The Vikings got a stellar performance from goaltender Mattias Soderqvist, who made 26 saves and handed Concordia its first shutout loss of the season on Friday. The Falcons had their four-game win streak snapped in the loss to the Vikings. Lawrence defeated Concordia for the third consecutive time overall as it swept two games against the Falcons a year ago. Mikkel Joehnk and Nick Felan both scored for the Vikings in Friday’s victory. With the tie on Saturday, it is unbeaten in its last four games against Concordia. Luke McDiarmid and Steve Hughes both scored for the Vikings on Saturday … Lake Forest snapped the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s five-game win streak Friday with a 4-0 win. The Foresters led 3-0 after one period and never looked back. Vito Aluia scored twice to pace the Foresters while Leo Podolsky made 23 saves to earn the shutout. It was a different story on Saturday as Omar Mullan came through with a hat trick to propel the Raiders to a 4-1 bounce-back win. Mullan scored 15 goals a year ago but only had three coming into this game. Davis DeKorte scored the lone goal for the Foresters. It was his first of the season. Austin Campbell started in goal and earned the win as he made 23 saves. The Raiders improved to 9-4 overall and to 4-4 in the conference. Lake Forest is now 6-7 overall and 4-6 in the NCHA.

Weekend West picks: Jan. 8-9

The first full weekend of games of the New Year has arrived and several good matchups are on the horizon, including a MIAC battle between St. Thomas and St. Mary’s.

St. Thomas (7-4-2, 5-1) vs. St. Mary’s (6-5-2, 3-2-1): The Tommies have won two of their last three and are playing for the first time since Dec. 12. Connor McBride and Michael Dockry lead the offense with five goals apiece. They have combined for nine assists as well. Joe Morris has been solid in goal, winning seven games and fashioning a 2.14 GAA.

The Cardinals are looking to get back on track as they come in on a three-game losing streak. Offensively, they have been impressive, scoring 61 goals, and Jay Heinle leads the way with 12 goals and two assists. Bob Kinne has tallied eight goals and 11 assists. Martin Gruse and Chad Cesarz have scored seven goals apiece. Phil Heinle has allowed 35 goals and has made 288 saves this season.

This series should end in a split. St. Mary’s 5-3; St. Thomas 4-2.

Bethel (1-8-1, 1-3) vs. Augsburg (7-4, 3-1): The Royals have dropped their last two games and are winless on the road. George Splichal has played well for Bethel, scoring four goals and dishing out three assists. Travis Payne has come through with three goals and three assists.

Augsburg is on a roll, winning its last three, and it hopes to ride that momentum through this series. Nate Flynn has stepped up in a big way, scoring eight goals and tallying eight assists. Eight other players have scored at least two goals for the Auggies, who have scored 41 goals.

If Augsburg plays up to its potential, it should pick up two wins. Augsburg, 5-2, 6-2.

St. John’s (4-7-2) vs. Wisconsin-River Falls (8-4-2): The Johnnies have won two of their last three and are playing their first game since Dec. 12. Huba Sekesi has fueled the offense with five goals and six assists while Saxton Soley is one of the top goaltenders in the conference. Although he has won only three games, he has made 331 saves on the year.

The Falcons are playing well, having won their last three, and having this game at home is a big deal. River Falls has won six times already on its home ice this season. Joe Drapluk and Kyle Gattelaro are first and second in points. Drapluk has scored five goals and tallied eight assists while Gattelaro has come up with six goals and six assists. Tanner Milliron owns a 2.12 GAA and has made 273 saves.

Give the edge to the Falcons. River Falls, 4-1.

Concordia (Minn.) (5-5-1) vs. Wisconsin-River Falls (8-4-2): The Cobbers are winless in their last three games and are looking to bounce back in a big way. Jake Zeleznikar and Jon Grebosky will be keys to the Cobbers’ success as they have scored five goals apiece. Alex Reichle will need to be ready to handle the Falcons’ balanced attack. He has a 3.01 GAA and has come up with 252 saves. River Falls, 5-3.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (8-3, 3-3) vs. Lake Forest (5-6, 3-5): The Raiders are one of the hottest teams in the NCHA at the moment, riding a five-game win streak into this series. Conner Enciso has paved the way offensively, racking up five goals and three assists, while Jerad Tafoya has been one of the top playmakers, dishing out seven assists. Nick Kohn has been solid at goaltender, winning seven games and making 276 saves.

Lake Forest will come in hungry for the upset. The Foresters have shown promise as of late, winning their last two, and they aren’t afraid of a challenge, having knocked off River Falls in November when it was ranked 13th in the country. The Raiders are ranked 15th. Billy Kent has been a key player for the Foresters, tallying seven goals and three assists.

This series could easily end in a split. Lake Forest, 3-2, MSOE 5-2.

Concordia (Wis.) (8-3-1, 5-2-1) vs. Lawrence (3-8, 2-4): The Falcons are playing great hockey right now and currently own a four-game win streak. They have not lost at home all season, fashioning a 6-0-1 mark on their own ice. Stefen Seel has played a key role in the team’s success, scoring six goals and dishing out nine assists. Connor Hogg has come up with six goals as well to go along with his four assists. Jack Romanulk and Andy Munroe have combined to play 11 games in goal, with each winning four times.

The Vikings are hoping to get themselves back on track after dropping their last three games. Generating offense will be key as they have scored just 25 goals this season. Renato Engler leads the way with four goals and seven assists. Mattias Soderqvist has started nine games at goaltender and has made 227 saves. He has to be on top of his game for the Vikings to have an opportunity to pull off the upset.

Look for the Falcons to get the job done. Concordia, 6-3, 6-2.

Weekend East picks: Jan. 7-9

The sprint that is the second half schedule has officially begun and there are several intriguing nonconference matchups that could have major implications come tournament selection time on the docket this week.

Of course, the conference battles are all there, too, so enjoy the great hockey that will dominate the schedule through the next couple of months.

The picks for the New Year’s slate of games was barely above the .500 mark at 4-3-0 (.571). That brings the season record to 25-16-6 (.596), which continues the slide in the wrong direction. There will be no crying from this prognosticator and no avoiding the challenging games.

Here are my picks for the East this week:

Thursday, Jan. 7

Plymouth State @ Curry
This nonconference battle screams trap game for the Panthers, who have made a concerted effort to produce far better results in nonconference games than last season. Curry doesn’t give up much defensively, but doesn’t score a lot either and that is just the way PSU wins a low-scoring affair – Plymouth State 3, Curry 1.

Friday, Jan. 8

Plattsburgh @ Norwich
The Cadets have a few key players back in the lineup and already adding value to a limited first-half offense. This game will be a track meet with speed on both sides and skill to match, so don’t be surprised to see a late goal decide the outcome in this rematch from the Primelink tournament in November – Norwich 4, Plattsburgh 3.

Oswego @ Utica
The Pioneers have got a good thing going at home and the Lakers are still in search of some consistency on a game-to-game basis. Like the home team in an offensive and entertaining game that should delight the home crowd – Utica 5, Oswego 4.

Geneseo @ Hobart
The Statesmen have a good thing going at home and the Knights represent a great challenge in this nonconference matchup of ranked teams. Expect a tight-checking, low-scoring game with a tie being a likely outcome, but I will give the edge on paper to the home team – Hobart 3, Geneseo 2.

Elmira @ Brockport
The Brockport formula has been timely goals and strong goaltending and they will need both if they expect to upend the Soaring Eagles. Look for the continued formulaic approach form the home team with the same result – Brockport 4, Elmira 3.

Saturday, Jan. 9

Trinity @ Williams
The Bantams may be able to leverage their Northfield Savings Bank tournament wins over Manhattanville and Norwich into some all-important conference wins starting with a tough Ephs squad in Williamstown – Trinity 2, Williams 1.

Westfield State @ Salem State
This MASCAC battle features two very opportunistic scoring teams, so don’t expect a low-scoring game. The Vikings got a big win last weekend against Amherst and look to build some momentum in league play – Salem State 5, Westfield State 4.

The games may not be for two points in the standings, but could mean much more come early March. No one should be taking any opponent lightly – drop the puck!

Weekend wrap: Jan. 4

Ryan Kangas’ offensive spark led Brockport to the Codfish Bowl championship Sunday (photo: Tori Langseder).

Happy New Year to all and what a way to welcome back the second half of play in the 2015-16 season!

There were holiday tournaments aplenty and several gracious hosts who allowed invited guests to skate off with the coveted championship trophy. Only Plattsburgh held onto the title in their hosted tournament, so there were upsets galore among ranked teams.

Here’s the recap:

WB Mason Winter Classic
The host Plattsburgh Cardinals had no problems in their opening game when they took down Fitchburg State by a 7-0 score with Pat Egan scoring twice in the first period to set the pace in the romp. Their opponent for the final was a pesky Colby squad who defeated Nazareth 6-4 behind EJ Rauseo’s first two goals of the season for the White Mules.

The final was hard-fought with a scoreless first period before the home team saw two goals in the second period from Ryan Chiasson and Egan to give the Cardinals all the cushion they would need. Rich Botting added a power-play goal in the third for the final 3-0 margin and Spencer Finney made 26 saves to earn the shutout.

Codfish Bowl
This is perhaps the “grand-daddy” of holiday tournaments with a legacy going back a couple of decades. Massachusetts-Boston has been the host, but their history has not been strong in winning the tournament, usually running into a hot goalie in the first round or final and history repeated itself this year with Brockport’s Jared Lockhurst making 48 saves and Ryan Kangas providing the offense in the 3-2 upset win over the fifth-ranked Beacons.

Brockport won the Codfish title on Sunday with a 5-1 win over Westfield State. Kangas again led the way for Brockport with another three-point game, giving him three goals and three assists and six points in the two-game tournament.

Middlebury Classic
The host Panthers earned their way to the championship game with a 6-3 win over Canton, while Neumann took down the Pilgrims of New England College behind goalie Tyler LeFebvre’s 33 saves and first win of the season.

The championship game was again the Tyler Levebre Show as he made 47 saves to earn tournament MVP as Neumann held on for a 2-1 win against the host Panthers on Sunday afternoon. Jon Low and Zac Larrazo provided all the offense for the Knights, who were outshot 48-29 in the game.

Babson/Salem State Tournament
The upsets continued in this tournament where Endicott avenged an earlier season loss against Salem State with two goals from Parker Wood in a 3-2 win in the first round. Kevin Aldridge made 29 saves in the win for the Gulls.

Babson knocked off Amherst 4-2 in the other first-round game, setting up the first-ever meeting between Endicott and Babson. The Gulls took the upset over the nationally-ranked Beavers by another 3-2 score with Cam Black scoring two goals, including the game-winner late in the third period on the power play. Aldridge outdueled Jamie Murray, making 41 saves in the title game.

In the consolation game, the Vikings earned some redemption and continuing a rare Amherst winless streak with a come from behind 5-4 win over the Lord Jeffs. Michael Chen scored twice and Derek Makimas had the winning goal for Bill O’Neill’s Salem State squad.

Northfield Savings Bank Tournament
The hosts from Norwich welcomed back William Pelletier to the lineup and he made every effort to make up for lost time playing by producing a six-point night in the Cadets first-round win over Wesleyan by an 8-0 score.

Trinity downed Manhattanville by a score of 4-3, which set up a marquee final on Sunday between the Bantams and Cadets.

The championship game did not disappoint as the defending national champions rallied to tie the game in the third period before winning in overtime on Anthony Sabitsky’s goal. Pelletier added another three points in the losing effort for the Cadets and another returning forward Dean Niezgoda chipped in with his first two goals of the season, the second giving the Cadets a 4-3 lead at the end of the second period. Alex Morin picked up the win in relief of Nathaniel Heilbron for Trinity making 10 saves and shutting out the Cadets for the final 31 plus minutes of play.

Weekly Biscuits

William Pelletier, Norwich – the senior forward came back to the Cadet lineup with a bang, scoring three goals and adding five assists for eight points in the two games against Wesleyan and Trinity over the weekend.

Ryan Kangas, Brockport – the forward scored twice and set-up the third in Brockport’s upset win over UMB in the Codfish Bowl and added another goal and two assists in the championship game against Westfield State for a six-point weekend.

Tyler Levebre, Neumann – the junior netminder stopped 80 of 82 shots in the Middlebury Classic in his first two starts of the season earning a pair of wins and the tournament MVP with the Knights 2-1 win over the Panthers.

WEST WRAP – Brian Lester

Augsburg continued its solid play as it defeated Lawrence 6-3 Saturday to pick up its sixth win in its last seven games. Drew Anderson and Mack Ohnsted scored two goals apiece to pave the way for the Auggies, who improved to 7-4 on the season. Augsburg has won its last three games overall. Brandon Boelter scored twice on the power-play to lead the Vikings. Jordyn Kaufer made 31 saves for the Auggies, while Mattias Soderqvist came through with 30 saves for the Vikings. Augsburg now shifts its attention to MIAC play as it will play a series against Bethel this weekend. Lawrence takes on Concordia (Wis.) in an NCHA series this weekend … Adrian nailed down a big win Saturday as it topped Williams 4-1 in a battle of nationally-ranked teams. The two teams squared off in the Pathfinder Bank Classic at Oswego. The Bulldogs are unbeaten in their last 10 games and improved to 9-1 with the win. Cameron Cooper, Mathew Thompson, Adam Davies and Bryan Yim all scored goals for the Bulldogs, who trailed 1-0 after the first period. A total of seven Adrian players scored points in the win. Connor Armour tallied two assists. Kevin Entmaa started in goal and made 25 saves as he improved to 7-0 on the year. Adrian stretched its unbeaten streak to 11 Sunday with a 5-1 win over Oswego State in the championship game of the tournament. Thompson scored a goal in the win and earned MVP honors. Entmaa picked up his eighth win of the season as he tallied 36 saves.

Weekend picks: Jan. 1-3

Johnson and Wales goalie Joey Ballmer and his teammates hope to steal the Codfish Bowl from nationally-ranked Massachusetts-Boston when the second semester action starts this weekend (photo: Erin Bumgardner/JWU Sports Information).

Happy New Year!

The semester break has come to an end and that means more great holiday tournament action to open 2016 in the East.

The picks entering the holidays saw one of my worst weeks of the season at 2-3-2 (.429). That brings the season record down to 21-13-6 (.600) so no time like the present to move that success rate up. There are some great tournaments to pick from and hopefully picking them right to start the all important second half.

Here are my picks for the East this week:

Friday, January 1, 2016

Skidmore @ Hamilton
The nonconference battle between teams from the NEHC and NESCAC should provide a lot of excitement for fans as both teams showed some flashes of brilliance in the first half. This one is likely a tie hockey game, even with overtime, but since I have to pick a winner, the home team gets the nod – Hamilton 3, Skidmore 2.

Nazareth @ Colby
Since this a first-round game at the Plattsburgh Tournament, formerly known as the Cardinal Classic, I fully expect the drama to come from a shootout after three periods of hockey and an overtime session can’t decide an outright winner. – Nazareth 4, Colby 3.

Fitchburg State @ Plattsburgh
A rare meeting between two coaches each owning 500-plus wins at the D-III level is on tap when Dean Fuller brings his Falcons to meet Bob Emery’s Cardinals. Don’t expect the hosts and No. 3-ranked team to be hospitable – Plattsburgh 5, Fitchburg State 1.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Canton @ Middlebury
The Panthers have remained unbeaten in conference play, but suffered their only two losses in the Primelink Tournament back in November. A nonconference win to open the second half for Neil Sinclair’s team will be a big confidence boost in this first-round game of the Middlebury Classic – Middlebury 4, Canton 1.

Neumann @New England College
Playing in the Middlebury Classic gives both teams the opportunity to open up their games on the big sheet, and that means a lot of offense from some very talented players on both sides. Mike Davis for the Knights and Cheyne Matheson for the Pilgrims will lead the way with the Knights having the edge – Neumann 5, NEC 3.

Brockport @ Massachusetts-Boston
The Codfish Bowl has a long history as a holiday tournament, but as the host school, the Beacons have struggled to win it. This first-round game brings a big challenge from the SUNYAC, so coach Peter Belisle’s team is going to have to earn a shot at the trophy – UMB 4, Brockport 3.

Johnson and Wales @ Westfield State
This is the classic battle of great offense for the Owls vs. great defense for the Wildcats. Jackson Leef and Dalton Jay are good, but the defensive corps and Joey Ballmer trump the offense and get the Wildcats to the final- Johnson and Wales 3, Westfield State 1.

Everybody should be refreshed and recharged for the second half and a chance to win hardware to open the semester is more incentive for teams to come out flying.

Catch some of the action at a rink near you – drop the puck!

WEST PICKS – Brian Lester

A new year is on the horizon and so is a light schedule for the first weekend of January. The slate includes Adrian playing in the SUNY Oswego/PathFinder Bank Hockey Classic Saturday and Sunday.

So here is a look at my predictions for the weekend ahead.

Lawrence (3-7) at Augsburg (6-4): Lawrence has lost its last two and is 1-3 on the road this year. Renato Engler leads the Vikings with four goals and six assists. Austin Frank and Josh Koepplinger have been key contributors as well, tallying three goals and two assists apiece. Mattias Soderqvist has started eight games in goal for Lawrence and owns a 3-5 record. He has allowed 33 goals and has racked up 97 saves.

The Auggies enter 2016 riding a two-game win streak. Eight players have scored two or more goals. Nate Flynn leads the way with eight goals and seven assists. Jordyn Kaufer is 5-3 on the year, allowing 18 goals and making 191 saves.

With Augsburg at home and momentum on its side, the Auggies should prevail. Augsubrg, 4-2.

Milwaukee School of Engineering at St. Mary’s (6-4-2): The Cardinals are looking to get back on track after dropping two to Concordia before the break. St. Mary’s has scored 57 goals on the season. The high-powered attack has been fueled by Jay Heinle, who has struck for 10 goals. Bob Kinne has tallied eight goals to go along with nine assists. Phil Heinle is 5-3-2 as the starting goaltender this season.

The Engineers are one of the hottest teams, winning their last four, and they have been impressive on the road, winning four of five. Conner Encisco has paved the way with five goals and three assists. Gage Christianson has been a solid play-maker, dishing out 11 assists. Nick Kohn is 6-3 in goal this year, anchoring a defense that has allowed just 19 goals all season.

This matchup should be tight but the edge goes to the Engineers. MSOE, 4-3.

Williams (5-2-1) vs. Adrian (8-1-1): The Ephs have been a solid defensive team, giving up more than a goal only once this season. They have allowed a total of nine behind the play of goaltending duo Noah Klag (2-1-1) and Michael Pinios. (3-1). C.J. Shugart leads the offense with four goals. The Ephs have scored 17 in all.

The Bulldogs have won five in a row and are unbeaten in their last 10. Adrian has been tough to stop, scoring 51 goals. Connor Armour and Jeremy Olinyk have been effective making plays, racking up 14 and 11 assists, respectively. Olinyk is also tied for second on the team in goals with six. Trevor Boyd leads the Bulldogs in goals scored, punching in seven on the year. Kevin Entma (6-0) and Tyler Parks (2-1-1) have both seen time in goal.

Adrian’s offense will be the difference in this one. Adrian, 5-2.

Dear Santa (West edition)

Dear Santa,

It’s almost Christmas and there are a handful of items I’d like to ask you to bring the teams in the MIAC, NCHA and WIAC.

I know you are a busy man at this time of the year, but if you could help out with the following requests it would be a great thing and the teams I am including on this list would be forever thankful for the gifts.

So without further delay, here goes nothing.

St. Olaf could really use a win or two in conference play. The Oles, who have dropped six in a row, are 0-4-2 in the MIAC this season and just 2-8-3 overall. They could use some luck on the road as well. St. Olaf is 0-5 away from home and their first three games of 2016 are on the road.

Concordia (Minn.) would love to remain unbeaten in conference play the rest of the season. The Cobbers are 4-0 in the MIAC and 5-4 overall. It will be next to impossible to stay perfect in a highly competitive conference, but hey, if anyone can deliver that, it’s you.

St. Thomas really wants to win another regular-season championship in the MIAC, and right now, things are looking pretty good for the Tommies. They are 7-4-2 overall and 5-1 in the conference. Seven players have scored three or more goals and Joe Morris has made 351 saves. There is no question the talent is there to win a title. But your help certainly would hurt the Tommies’ cause either.

St. Norbert would greatly appreciate a continuation of its unbeaten streak as it heads into the new year. The Green Knights are the No. 1 team in the nation and haven’t lost in their last 10 games. They have thrived off a high-powered offense that has cranked out 60 goals and a defense that has given up only 16 goals. With your help, they might not lose a game the rest of the year.

Adrian could use your help in keeping pace with St. Norbert in the NCHA title race. The Bulldogs are in second place, sitting only a point behind the Green Knights, and they are headed into the break riding a five-game win streak. They have been tough to slow down, scoring 51 goals, and they have been nearly as impressive on defense, having given up only 23 goals.

 (Mike Dickie   (517)263-4261  Adrian, MI/Adrian College Athletics)

Kyle Brothers needs to step up his game if Adrian is to contend with St. Norbert for an NCHA championship (photo: Adrian College Athletics).

Concordia (Wis.) has been one of the hottest teams in the NCHA and heads into Christmas on a four-game win streak. The Falcons have been one of the league’s surprise contenders and could use your help in keeping pace in the title chase. They would love it if you could give them wins over St. Norbert and Adrian when they play the two teams next month. The Falcons will play a home-and-home with the Green Knights and play two road games against the Bulldogs.

Wisconsin-River Falls has the early lead in the battle for the WIAC championship and the Falcons would love it if you could keep them in that position going forward. They have won four of their last five overall and have one of the more balanced teams in the country as 12 players have scored two or more goals. Kyle Gattelaro leads the way with five goals.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point went into the season as the favorite to win the conference championship and still has plenty of time to live up to the hype. What the Pointers could use is continued success on the road. Stevens Point is 5-2 away from home and will play four of its first five games in the new year on the road. Success during that stretch would be a great present for the Pointers, who have visions of winning the national title (no offense to sugar plums) this year.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been a little up and down lately, going 2-2 in its last four, and consistency would prove to be a great gift for the Blugolds. Eau Claire has not won more than two games in a row this season and extended win streak would certainly make for a great gift. Eau Claire plays three of its first five games on the road in 2016 and if you could put consistency under its tree this Christmas, it could go a long way in helping it thrive in the second half of the season.

I’m not sure which Christmas wishes in my letter you will be able to honor, but I guess the most important thing is that you deliver an exciting and competitive second half of the season for all hockey fans.

Sincerely,

Brian Lester

BNY Mellon Wealth Management