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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

Dear Santa (East edition)

‘Tis the season to celebrate goodwill and good tidings to all and, of course, make a few requests of the jolly old elf for some presents since I am sure all of the teams and coaches have been “good boys” this year.

Well, even if some might be getting the list checked over twice by Santa, here is a top 12 list (starting with number 12, like the song) of presents that would be great to open before the second half of the season in the New Year.

So Santa, hope you’re listening, willing and able to deliver on all the goodies to ensure a great finish to an already great 2015-16 season.

Twelve
Rumors abound about NCAA tournament expansion from the current 11 teams to adding a 12th team at the D-III level (more to follow in upcoming features from USCHO.com), so Santa, make sure this happens as there are worthy teams every year that go home too early and deserve a chance to play for the national title.

Eleven
Eleven players for the new varsity program at Daniel Webster have accounted for all 22 goals scored by the team this season. Here’s hoping some magic tape from Santa helps to create more balance and production starting with their home series against Rhode Island to open the New Year.

Ten
Seeing five 10-goal scorers in the first half suggests there are some real skill guys that could have special seasons if they can match production in the second half. Norwich’s Kevin Salvucci, Potsdam’s Dylan Vander Esch, Geneseo’s Trevor Hills, Neumann’s Mike Davis and Assumption’s Brandon Bete all have surpassed the 10-goal mark in the first half and look for Santa to add that special goal scoring stick under the tree for the second half.

Nine
Nine teams in the SUNYAC all have aspirations of being champs and some familiar teams are positioned at the top of the ultra-competitive conference. Here’s hoping that top to bottom, Santa leaves that home-ice edge that teams seem to thrive on in the SUNYAC conference.

Bowdoin’s Terry Meagher enters his final second half as the Polar Bears’ head coach and will end a 30-plus year coaching career in the spring (photo: Bowdoin Athletics).

Eight
Count them up, oh you Bowdoin fans in Brunswick. There are just eight more regular-season home games on the docket before the legendary coaching career of Terry Meagher comes to a close and he takes his place among the best at any level of college hockey. Here’s hoping Santa brings a second-half run that takes the Polar Bears far in the always-tough NESCAC conference tournament.

Seven
Game No. 7 is where all of the ECAC West teams find themselves in conference play and only six points separate the top from the bottom in a league that has no auto-bid and face as many challenges in conference as seen in their aggressive nonconference schedules. Four-point weekends have been few and far between, so Santa, bring a couple to keep the drama level high in the second half.

Six
Six teams could use some Christmas cheer, so Santa, how about a few more goals and offense for the teams still looking for their first conference win? The boys from Castleton, Connecticut College, Franklin Pierce, Wesleyan, Western New England and Worcester State have worked hard and deserve more for the effort.

Five
Five teams are unbeaten in conference play including Babson, Massachusetts-Boston, Middlebury, Nichols and Plymouth State. May the coaches find a rear-view mirror in their stockings as a reminder that teams behind them are closer than they may appear.

Four
Just four teams (Babson, Massachusetts-Boston, Plymouth State and Plattsburgh) have a single loss on their record this season and all but Plymouth State are nationally ranked. May Santa find some recognition for the hard-working Panthers who don’t quit until the final whistle.

Three
Three periods in a game, three goalies in the East and three shutouts apiece for Wentworth’s Joel Miller, Babson’s Jamie Murray and Johnson and Wales’ Joey Ballmer that lead the nation in the category. I could throw in three first names beginning with “J,” but Santa doesn’t need to alphabetize his list where goaltending is concerned. Here’s hoping for more magic saves across the East in the second half.

Two
Two in a row has become a rare feat in repeating as national champions as evidenced by St. Norbert being last to accomplish the double a few seasons ago. Trinity has aspirations of returning to the title picture, but will need some Christmas magic to win their first conference title under coach Matt Greason and obtain the all important auto-bid.

One
There is just one puck to play as the ultimate toy and focal point for players, coaches and fans alike. Here’s hoping that each team receives a few more favorable bounces from the one puck in the second half. No elves required, so … drop the puck!

Weekend wrap: Dec. 13

The first semester is in the books for everyone and the final weekend showcased some great nonconference matchups, along with some final conference upsets that set the tone for what will surely be a great second half run across all conferences to the national tournament in March.

It is always tough to stop playing when you are going well, but for most teams, the break comes at a good time to heal up and rest up for the stretch run in the New Year.

Here is a quick summary on some of the key East action over the weekend.

Nonconference

Seven seconds is all that separated Nichols from a road win over MASCAC-leading Plymouth State, but Caleb O’Brien’s goal with just three seconds left in regulation tied the game at 1-1 before freshman Matt Volonnino won it for the host school in overtime with an unassisted goal. The Panthers outshot the Bison 42-25, but needed the end of game drama to overcome Alex Larson and Nichols by the 2-1 final.

Trinity closed out the first half with back-to-back games against Hobart and Elmira. Goals were at a premium in both games as the Bantams and Statesmen tied 1-1 on Friday night before Trinity rallied to an overtime win against Elmira on Saturday by a 2-1 score. Ryan Cole, with an assist from Ross Mandigo just 30-plus seconds into the extra session, won the game for Trinity. Goaltender Alex Morin picked up the win to go to 3-0-0 on the season.

Utica took down upset-minded Salve Regina by a 4-1 score that featured a first-period penalty shot goal by Joel Wetmore that initiated an amazing barrage of teddy bears being thrown on the ice by the Pioneer faithful (video feed can be found on social media) following the first goal of the game for the home team. Kyle Moore scored for the Seahawks with less than five minutes remaining in regulation to break up Michael Fredrick’s shutout bid in the final game of the semester for Utica.

Three points each from Jonathan Hahn and Connor Mauro led Franklin Pierce to a 5-4 upset win over Suffolk. The win was just the second of the season for Bruce Marshall’s Ravens, who scored two power-play goals to seal the win.

Salem State spotted the hosts from Endicott a first-period lead, but scored four unanswered goals to take a 4-1 win in the first meeting of the two schools that reside in neighboring towns. Hoping this is a backyard rivalry that will grow in the future.

Geneseo then spotted Nazareth a three-goal lead and then reeled off five goals of their own, including a hat trick from Trevor Hills, in a key nonconference victory for the nights. Hills has 11 goals in the first half for Geneseo.

Potsdam blew a two-goal lead against Johnson and Wales when Brett Kangas scored his first goal of the season to tie the game at 3-3 for the Wildcats. Dylan Vander Esch had other thoughts for the Bears as he completed his hat trick with the game-winning goal late in the third period in Potsdam’s 4-3 win.

NESCAC

The only conference in the final weekend playing league games saw the Panthers from Middlebury end the semester atop the conference standings posting a 3-3 tie with Hamilton and downing Amherst by a 2-0 score on the road on Saturday to enter the break unbeaten in conference play at 3-0-3.

Williams also dropped its first conference game when Jon Stickel scored for Hamilton early in the third period for the only goal of the game as Evan Buitenhuis made 42 saves to earn the 1-0 shutout for the Continentals.

Colby leveled their record at 3-3-1 with a tie against Tufts on Friday night by a 2-2 score before downing Connecticut College 3-2 on Saturday behind a goal and an assist from Mario Benicky.

Weekend Biscuits

Trevor Hills, Geneseo – The forward’s hat trick led a comeback win over Nazareth from the ECAC West to close out the semester for the Knights, who finished the semester with a five-game winning streak.

Dylan Vander Esch, Potsdam – The DVE show continued for the Bears, who needed all three of his goals on Saturday in a 4-3 win over Johnson and Wales from the ECAC Northeast. The game-winning goal was his second of the first half and his 12 goals represent 27 percent of the team’s 43 on the season.

Matt Volonnino, Plymouth State – The freshman forward scored an unassisted goal to down nationally-ranked Nichols on Thursday night before adding a goal and an assist in the Panthers’ 4-1 win over Castleton to close out the semester and extend their win streak to nine games.

WEST ROUNDUP – Brian Lester

St. John’s pulled off a big-time upset at home Saturday, blasting St. Scholastica 7-2. Seven players scored goals for the Johnnies, who improved to 4-7-2 with the win over the 15th-ranked Saints. St. John’s came into the game having scored only 12 goals. The seven goals in a game is the most since putting up seven against St. Olaf in November 2013. Tyler Fulton and Connor Kelly each tallied a goal and two assists, while Huba Sekesi came through with his fifth goal of the year and also dished out an assist. Zach Glienke finished with one goal and one assist as well, while Tyler Nelson earned his first career win racking up 25 saves. St. Scholastica did manage to beat Gustavus Adolphus on Friday, earning a 4-1 win. Steven Phee scored a goal and dished out two assists while Brandon Millin came through with a goal and an assist.

Behind two goals from Riley Christensen, top-ranked St. Norbert skated to a 4-1 win over St. Thomas in a huge nonconference showdown Saturday. The Green Knights head into the holiday break riding an 11-game unbeaten streak and are 10-0-1 on the season. Michael Hill and Roman Uchyn also scored goals for St. Norbert, which held a 34-24 advantage in shots. Michael Dockry scored the lone goal for the Tommies, who fell to 7-4-2. Joe Morris made 30 saves in goal for St. Thomas. The loss marked the first time all season St. Thomas has lost on its home ice … James Ring scored with 16.7 seconds left in regulation to lift the Milwaukee School of Engineering to a 3-2 road win over Wisconsin-Superior Friday. Superior led 2-0 before Omar Mullan and Brandon Unser scored to tie the game at 2-2. The Raiders finished off the series Saturday with a 4-2 victory, scoring twice in the final minutes of regulation to extend their win streak to four. The Raiders have won their last six games against University of Wisconsin state schools and all of them have come on the road. They are 7-3 on the season. Christian Elsborg, Jordan Guth, Mullan and Gage Christianson all scored for the Raiders. It’s been an interesting week for MSOE, which has scored four goals in the final minute of play. Ian Ecklund and Viktor Salhag scored for the Yellow Jackets, who fell to 3-8-2.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire picked up its eighth win of the season Saturday with a 4-2 win over Hamline. The No. 11 Blugolds broke a 2-2 tie in the third period on goals by Jesse Tredinnick and T.J. Stuntz. Adam Knochenmus scored his 15th goal of the year in the first period to tie the game at 1-1. Garrett Clement assisted on that goal, pushing his assist total to 13 for the season. Patrick Moore also got credit for an assist. Tyler Green made big-time plays in the net, racking up 32 saves He improved to 5-2 on the season. Mitch McPherson scored both goals for the Pipers, who are now 4-6-3 on the season. Eau Claire is 8-3-2 … Wisconsin-Stout won a pair of games over the weekend, topping Concordia (Minn.) 3-1 before knocking off St. Olaf 5-3 on Saturday. Shayne McLaughlin scored twice for the Blue Devils and Joe Anderson came through with a goal and an assist. Tyler Cayemberg tallied two assists. Nick Schmit earned the win for the second night in a row. He racked up 22 saves. He is 2-0. Andy Jordahl, David Rath and Patrick Sivets all scored goals for the Oles, who trailed 3-0 early before cutting the gap to 4-3 in the third. The Blue Devils improved to 6-4-2 and the Oles fell to 2-8-3. Schmit started in goal for the first time on Friday and made 35 saves as Stout knocked off Concordia. Cayemberg, Austin Nelson and Karl Anderson all scored for the Blue Devils. Jon Grebosky scored for the Cobbers, who are 5-4-2.

Weekend picks: Dec. 10-12

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.

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