This is the last weekend of games before the semester break and there are some great matchups in and nonconference play this weekend to delight any and all fans.
It’s the last chance to get in the holiday spirit by finishing with a win.
Last week, I stumbled again with my picks at 3-3-1 (.500), which brings the season record down to 19-10-4 (.636). End of the semester redemption is just a few good picks away, but the tough nonconference matchups do not make for an easy week to pick correctly.
Here are my picks for the East this week:
Thursday, Dec. 10
Nichols @ Plymouth State
The nonconference battle between the top teams in MASCAC and the ECAC Northeast is a great showcase for two national tournament teams from a year ago looking to go further this year. Both teams have been playing well, but the Panthers have had challenges with nonconference games so the advantage here goes to the visitors and a one goal win – Nichols 3, PSU 2.
Friday, Dec. 11
Williams @ Amherst
This is a rematch of last spring’s NESCAC conference championship game that went to the Lord Jeffs 1-0. Don’t think it is quite that low-scoring this time around, but it will be close and likely a one-goal game as it always seems to be between these two teams. – Amherst 2, Williams 1.
Hobart @ Trinity
If there is a thing called the national tournament hangover, then Trinity needs to find the remedy and a quality win over another nationally-ranked opponent like the Statesmen would help set the tone for the second semester. Nothing is easy and this game could be a tie, but will go with the home team in an entertaining affair - Trinity 4, Hobart 3.
Nazareth @ Geneseo
The Knights are coming off two big home wins last weekend and have momentum, but they will need to find a way to slow down the line of Morrissey, Mullin and Davis if they want to keep the winning streak intact – Geneseo 5, Nazareth 4.
Saturday, Dec. 12
Salve Regina @ Utica
Trap game alert! Trap game alert! Pioneers – do not underestimate the Seahawks or you too will fall to their upset-minded ways. Both teams finding their game late in the semester, so expect a battle that will likely be decided late – Utica 3, Salve Regina 2.
Salem State @ Endicott
Two schools that are pretty match in the same neighborhood, so while the game is a nonconference affair, this backyard brawl could be the beginning of a new rivalry on the North Shore of Boston. Not far to travel for the visitors but the home team prevails – Endicott 4, Salem State 3.
St. Michael’s @ Assumption
Both NE-10 teams probably think they have played better than their records indicate and both would like the important two points in the conference standings to close out the semester. Chris Johnson has been terrific in goal for the Purple Knights, but doesn’t have a lot to show for yet. His teammates help him out with some offense in this one – St. Michael’s 3, Assumption 1.
There will be lots of time off to dwell on the outcomes of the weekend good or bad. Also lots of time for teams to get healthy and recharge the batteries for a second half run. Positive momentum is a key element so wins this final weekend of the semester will have lingering value – drop the puck!
WEST PICKS – Brian Lester
It’s almost time for Christmas break, but first, there are some hockey games to play.
The weekend is highlighted by a nonconference showdown between top-ranked St. Norbert and St. Thomas. The Green Knights will be on the road against the Tommies. Check out more about that game and others below.
Gustavus Adolphus (3-5-2) vs. St. Scholastica (5-2-1)
The Gusties wrap up the first half of the year with a road game against the Saints. They are 2-2-1 away from home this season. Tim Donohue and Colin Hernon have scored three goals apiece. Defense is where Gustavus needs to be sharp, having given up 27 goals on the year.
The Saints are 2-1 on the road and have won four of their last five. They are 1-0-1 against nonconference opponents and are led Brandon Millin, who has tallied seven goals and four assists. Goaltender Tyler Bruggeman owns a 4-2-1 record – St. Scholastica, 4-2.
St. Scholastica (5-2-1) vs. St. John’s (3-7-2)
The Johnnies host the Saints in their final game of the first half of the year. They have dropped three of their last four and want to close the month on a high note. Three players have scored four goals apiece in Huba Sekesi, Neal Smith and Tyler Dunagan. Saxton Soley has made 331 saves on the year.
The Saints will be playing their second MIAC opponent of the weekend and have fared well on the road, going 2-1 in away games – St. Scholastica, 3-2.
Concordia (Minn.) (5-3) vs. Wisconsin-Stout (4-4-2)
The Cobbers have momentum, having won two in a row, and they are 2-0 on the road. Jake Zeleznikar leads the offense with four goals. Goaltender Alex Reichle owns a 2.87 GAA on the season.
Stout has dropped two of three and is led by Jake Useldinger, who has racked up four goals and three assists. Chase Hollander has allowed 18 goals in six games. The Blue Devils are 2-1 against MIAC opponents – Concordia, 4-3.
Hamline (1-4-1) vs. Wisconsin-Eau Claire (7-3-2)
The Pipers have struggled this season, but want to head into the break with momentum. Brandon Zurn and Charlie Adams have been phenomenal despite the struggles, scoring 11 and 10 goals, respectively. They have combined for 28 assists as well.
Eau Claire has lost two of its last three, but still features one of the better offenses in the country. The Blugolds have scored 51 goals on 83 assists, with Adam Knochenmus coming up with 14 goals and five assists – Eau Claire, 6-2.
St. Norbert (10-1-1) vs St. Thomas (7-3-2)
It’s a matchup of two of the premier programs in the nation. The Green Knights, ranked No. 1 in the nation, have won their last two and are an impressive 8-0-1 on the road this season. St. Norbert has scored 56 goals already and Roman Uchyn leads the way with seven goals. The Green Knights have been tough on defense, allowing only 17 goals.
The Tommies are unbeaten in three home games and will be looking to make a big statement on their own ice. Connor McBride and Michael Dockry have scored five and four goals, respectively, while Joe Morris has started all 12 games and has made 321 saves – St. Norbert, 4-3.