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Wild and wooly weekend

Soley sized Wild and wooly weekend

St. John’s has been led all season by goaltender Saxton Soley and that was the case last weekend as the Johnnies swept Concordia (Minn.) (photo: Caleb Williams/d3photography.com).

It was an interesting weekend in the Division III hockey world.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the defending national champion, won its fifth consecutive game in shutout fashion.

Elmira ended a nine-game losing streak to Oswego and also picked up its third win of the season over a nationally-ranked team in the process.

Adrian and St. Scholastica hooked up in a thrilling weekend series in which both games went to overtime. One ended in a tie. The other ended with a win by Adrian.

Williams also pulled off an upset as it took down Plattsburgh in a battle of nationally-ranked opponents.

For a look at those games and more, keep reading.

ECAC East

Fifth-ranked Norwich has dominated Middlebury lately and the trend continued Saturday as the Cadets nailed down a 5-2 win over the Panthers.

Five players scored goals for Norwich, which defeated its in-state rival for the 10th time in their last 14 meetings. Norwich is 10-2-2 during that stretch, but Middlebury still leads the all time series 80-59-8.

Shane Gorman scored a goal and dished out an assist for the Cadets, while Erik Lyrvall, William Pelletier, Dean Niezgoda and Chris Duszynski all scored goals as well.

Norwich outshot Middlebury 17-1 in the opening period and held a 36-20 advantage overall as it continued its quest for a 16th consecutive regular-season league title.

Max Franklin came through with the game-winning goal in seventh-ranked Babson’s 4-3 win over St. Anselm on Saturday.

Franklin scored at the 15:54 mark of the third period as the Beavers won their third consecutive game, improving to 14-3 overall and to 8-2 in the conference.

Mike Driscoll scored twice for Babson and Jamie Murray was stellar in goal as he tallied 40 saves.

ECAC Northeast

Several Fredonia players reached new heights on Saturday in a 4-0 win over Curry.

Frankie Hart and Zach White scored their first collegiate goals for the Blue Devils and Jeff Flagler earned his first shutout as Fredonia improved to 4-8-3 on the season.

Taylor Bourne also scored a goal, his first of the season, and Matt Owczarczak tallied his second goal of the year.

Flagler made 30 saves in the win and is the first Fredonia goalie to get a shutout this season. He is 1-3 on the year. The win finished off a week where the Blue Devils fashioned a 2-0-1 record.

Franklin Pierce used a furious finish to knock off Suffolk 4-3 on Saturday.

The Ravens scored four goals in the final 27 minutes of the game to earn the win and improve to 3-11-1 on the season.

Tim Sullivan scored two goals to record the first multi-goal game of his career and now has six goals on the year.

Aaron Baker scored his second goal of the year. He also dished out an assist. Baker didn’t get a point in the eight games he played during the first half of the year, but has four points in the last five games.

Ted Walsh tallied the other goal for the Ravens. It was his first game-winning goal and his fifth goal overall on the season.

Kyle Moran made 25 saves as he made his first start since Nov. 30.

ECAC West

Elmira ended a nine-game losing streak to 10th-ranked Oswego and earned its third win over a ranked team this season as it took down the Lakers 3-2 on Saturday.

The Soaring Eagles pushed their win streak to three games and ended the Lakers’ 10-game unbeaten streak.

Elmira scored first, something no other team has done against Oswego this year, as Carter Shinkaruk put the Soaring Eagles in front 1-0 just 28 seconds into the game.

Dylan Herold and Nick Angelo also scored goals for Elmira, which improved to 8-6 on the year.

Sal Magliocco did his part in goal as he tied his career-high in saves with 42. The Soaring Eagles were out-shot 44-26. It’s the biggest difference in shots this season for Elmira.

Nazareth ended a two-game losing streak on Saturday as it pushed past Cortland 4-2. It was just the second win for the Golden Flyers since Nov. 5.

The Golden Flyers are now 3-12-1 overall and won behind goals from Julius Tamasy, Tom Seravalli, David Seward and Mark Zavorin. The goals by Tamasy and Seravalli were shorthanded. Prior to Saturday, Nazareth had scored only one shorthanded goal in its two-year history.

Nazareth held a 38-29 edge in shots and avenged its 5-1 loss to the Red Dragons on Dec. 12. However, Nazareth did lose Tamasy for the rest of the season as he fractured his leg after crashing into the boards in the third period.

MASCAC

Alex Dewitz came through with a hat trick as he led Worcester State to a 5-3 win over Fitchburg State on Saturday.

Andrew Bates and Richard Bohan also scored goals for the Lancers, who improved to 6-6-1 overall and to 2-5-1 in the conference. Bates now has a team-best five goals on the year.

Worcester State held a 39-32 advantage in shots, but went 0-for-5 on the power play. Salvatorre Tecci came through with 29 saves and is 4-4-1 on the year.

MIAC

St. John’s scored three unanswered goals in the third period and the Johnnies held on for a 5-3 win over Concordia (Minn.) on Saturday.

Alex Ach came through with his fourth goal of the year during the outburst, while Trent Johnson, Kevin Becker, Brady Riesgraf and Nick Vatnsdal also scored goals in the win.

The goal for Johnson was his first of the year and the game was his first one since Dec. 12 because of an injury. Riesgraf scored his first collegiate goal and Saxton Soley made 22 saves for the Johnnies, who are now 9-6 overall and 4-3 in the MIAC.

St. John’s has won four consecutive games and has come out on top in 15 of the last 17 meetings against the Cobbers.

Gustavus Adolphus scored three unanswered goals and rolled to a 4-2 win over Augsburg on Saturday to complete a weekend sweep of the Auggies.

Sam Smith, Alex Gallen and Andy Pearson all scored goals during the surge and Tyler Lapic scored a goal as well for the Gusties, who are 9-4-3 overall and 6-1-1 in the conference.

Gustavus tallied 35 shots and held Augsburg to 25 shots. John McLean racked up 23 saves and improved his record to 8-3-3. He made 13 of those saves in the third period.

NCHA

Adrian and St. Scholastica squared off in a battle of nationally-ranked opponents Saturday night and it was the top-ranked Bulldogs who prevailed with a 4-3 win in overtime.

Justin Basso scored in OT to give Adrian the victory over the 15th-ranked Saints. It was his third game-winning goal of the season.

Duston Hebebrand came through with two goals and an assist for the Bulldogs, while Jeremy Olinyk also scored as Adrian improved to 14-0-3 overall and to 8-0-2 in the conference.

The Saints, who fell to 9-4-4 overall and to 6-1-3 in the conference, got goals from Justin Krabben, Dave Williams and Joel Paiment.

Adrian was outshot 34-30.

The two teams played to a 1-1 tie one night earlier as both games in the series went to OT.

SUNYAC

Williams earned an impressive win on Saturday as it knocked off third-ranked Plattsburgh in a nonconference showdown featuring two of the best teams in the nation.

The Ephs, ranked 12th in the country, extended their win streak to five games and won their tenth game of the season.

Craig Kitto turned in a hat trick to pace the Ephs, who led 3-0 after the second period. Luke Stickel and Sam Gray also scored for Williams, which was outshot 36-21.

Not only did the Ephs win, improving to 10-2-2 on the year, but head coach Bill Kangas now owns the most wins as a coach in program history. He is 330-223-5 at the helm of the Ephs and is in his 25th season at Williams.

WIAC

In a huge nonconference showdown between sixth-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire and eighth-ranked St. Thomas, the Blugolds earned their fifth consecutive shutout with a 2-0 win over the Tommies.

With the shutout, Eau Claire becomes just the second team at any level of college hockey to ring up five consecutive shutouts. Lake Superior State last did it in 1994.

The streak began for UWEC back on Dec. 14.

Chris Heineman scored first for the Blugolds and Jack Callahan came through with the final goal of the night.

The Blugolds were outshot 39-32.

Tyler Green earned the win and has been the goalie in three of the shutouts during the streak. He made 39 saves and has not allowed a goal in 2014. Jay Deo has the other two shutout wins in the streak.

Eau Claire improved to 11-3-1 on the season while the Tommies fell to 10-3-2.

Predicting weekend wins and losses

McLean GAC sized Predicting weekend wins and losses

John McLean was solid in goal for Gustavus Adolphus over the first half and looks to have an even better second half (photo: Laura Westphal/SportPix).

How will this weekend’s Division III men’s games play out? Our columnists have a pretty good idea … right?

ECAC East – Tim Costello

It was the first week of picks that didn’t knock it out of the park as I finished at 3-2-0 (.600) last week.

That sub-par performance brings the season total to a still respectable 25-9-4 (.711) for the season.

The matchups don’t get easier this week with several ranked teams facing each other, but I will still endeavor to pick the challenging ones, too.

Friday, Jan. 17

Babson @ New England College

The first time around, the Beavers won by a 3-0 score at home. The confines at Henniker are more conducive to the Pilgrims’ game, but two goals doesn’t get it done against a Babson team that knows how to score just enough to win. Babson 4-2.

Castleton @ University of New England

The Spartans have been stung by the upset bug against the Nor’easters not so long ago that the upperclassmen don’t remember that feeling. New team and different coach, but if the Spartans want to stay in the hunt for a home-ice seeding, these are the games they need to win. Castleton 5-3.

St. Michael’s @ Norwich

The past week-plus has seen the Cadets play some serious competition from Frozen Fenway and Babson to Massachusetts-Boston and a midweek game with Plattsburgh. They won’t be looking ahead to their other in-state rival in Middlebury on Saturday and take care of business with their travel partner. Norwich 6-3.

Saturday, Jan. 18

Middlebury @ Norwich

It’s one of the oldest and best rivalries in D-III hockey and while the Cadets host St. Mike’s on Friday night, the Panthers get to play a high-octane game against Plattsburgh before traveling to Northfield. Very tough to play back-to-back big games, so the advantage goes to the home team in a close one.

Norwich 3-2. Skidmore @ University of New England

The Nor’easters have played everyone tough and don’t have a lot of wins to show for the effort, but this one gets them the two points in league play. Colby Drost has been very reliable in goal for Brad Holt and makes the difference in this one for the home team. UNE 3-2.

Great matchups both in conference and out of conference play with some traditional rivalries in the mix – drop the puck!

ECAC Northeast – Nathan Fournier

Friday, Jan. 17

Curry at Buffalo State

Buffalo State has already faced another ECAC Northeast opponent in Johnson and Wales a few weeks back. They played them tough, losing both games 2-1. I expect the Bengals to fare batter against Curry, which only has three wins this season. To the Colonels’ credit, they picked up a win last weekend over Canton. I will take the Bengals in a 6-1 game.

Johnson and Wales at Potsdam

The Wildcats have done what they have to do during their nonconference schedule by going 8-1-0 this season outside the ECAC Northeast. The Bears have also played well outside the SUNYAC, going 5-2-0 . Johnson and Wales is on the cusp of making the USCHO.com Division III Men’s Poll as it received nine votes this week. Another good weekend may pot them in the top 15. I have Johnson and Wales in a 4-3 game.

Saturday, Jan. 18

Johnson and Wales at Canton

Canton has split four games this season with ECAC Northeast teams. They have beaten Becker and Suffolk, while losing to Western New England and Curry. This will be a tough test as Johnson and Wales is only allowing 1.29 goals per game this season. After a close game against Potsdam, I like Johnson and Wales to take this one 5-1.

Curry at Fredonia

This should be a very competitive game between two teams who look to get some momentum heading into conference play. This will be the first game for Fredonia against an ECAC Northeast opponent. Curry has played well last weekend and I expect them to take one game this weekend. I have the Colonels in a 4-2 hockey game.

Southern New Hampshire at Salve Regina

It will be a fun game as both teams know how to put the puck into the net. Southern New Hampshire is scoring four goals a game. Salve Regina is putting 3.6 goals per game this season. Both defenses will have a hard time stopping the other team’s offense. Salve Regina hasn’t played well outside the ECAC Northeast. I will take Southern New Hampshire in a 6-4 game.

Franklin Pierce at Suffolk

The Suffolk Rams are still looking to get on track for 2014. They are 1-3-0 this month, but Franklin Pierce isn’t doing much better with a record of 1-3 after losing to Fredonia on Wednesday. I will take Suffolk as the home team in a 3-2 game.

Assumption at Wentworth

This is Wentworth’s final nonconference contest of the season. Both teams are struggling. I believe Wentworth coach R.J. Tolan will be fine-tuning his squad for the stretch run. They are still in the thick of things in ECAC Northeast, so this will be a nice tune-up game. Assumption pulled off an upset over Western New England last week and I think they will take this one 3-1.

Sunday, Jan. 19

Nichols at Assumption

While Assumption is playing Wentworth on Saturday, the Bison are waiting for them in Worcester. Nichols is looking to bounce back from a 8-5 defeat against Manhattanville. This a very winnable game for them. I see them doubling up Assumption 6-3.

Tuesday, Jan. 21

Becker at Worcester State Both teams need a win to get some confidence going into their respectful conference play. Worcester State has played well out of conference with a 4-1-0 mark. Becker’s only win of the season came out out of conference with a 6-4 win over Tufts. This should be a very tight contest and I will take Worcester State out of the MASCAC to defeat Becker in a 2-1 game.

Thursday, Jan. 23

Canton at Curry

Another game for the Colonels that is a game that they can win. If they can go 2-1 this week, it’s the step in the right direction for them. Canton will be as hungry as Curry is. It will be a fascinating contest and I have Curry winning 4-1.

ECAC West/SUNYAC – Dan Hickling

Friday, Jan. 17

Hobart (6-4-4) @ Cortland (4-9-2) – Hobart 5, Cortland 4

Hobart is trending as one of the hottest teams in the country and although Cortland can score goals in bunches, their attack might not be able to get it done this time.

No. 14 Geneseo (11-3-0) @ Neumann (7-5-3) – Geneseo 3 Neumann 1 The second of a two-game set between two squads of Knights which saw the G-Knights win the opener 3-2. Genny had its speed bump a week ago in losing big to Elmira, 5-1, and is ready to settle down for the stretch run.

Saturday, Jan. 18

No. 10 Oswego (9-2-2) @ Elmira (8-6-0) – Elmira 5 Oswego 3 Both teams are hot right now in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season for each. The Pioneers have been filling the net lately, and get the nod here.

MASCAC – Nathan Fournier

Saturday, Jan. 18

Massachusetts-Dartmouth at Plymouth State

These two teams aren’t having the seasons they were expecting to have. In the first matchup this season, the Corsairs took it 4-3. Shaun Walters had two goals for UMass-Dartmouth. Since that game, he has only had five points. Plymouth State has gone 3-5 since that game. I think this game will be a tone-setter down the stretch and whoever comes out on top could get the spark they need. I will take the home team in Plymouth State in a 5-3 contest.

Framingham State at Salem State

A very intriguing game between with the Salem State Vikings 6-1 at home going into the game and the Framingham State Rams trying to stop a two-game losing streak. The Rams, who have been in the top half of the MASCAC the first half of the year, look to keep pace with the Vikings, who are ahead one point going into Thursday’s games. In the first game, the Rams took it 6-3. I like how the Vikings are playing right now and I will go with them in a 3-2 game.

Fitchburg State at Worcester State

If Fitchburg State wants to host a home playoff game, this game could be pivotal for that to happen. Going into Thursday’s games they would be hosting a quarterfinal game. The two teams met on Nov. 16 with the Falcons defeating the Lancers 7-3 in that contest. I will take Fitchburg State in an 8-4 contest.

Thursday, Jan. 23

Westfield State at Fitchburg State This should be a good battle for playoff positioning. Westfield State is very comfortable playing inside the MASCAC with 6-2 record after beating Salem State on Thursday night. The first game on Nov. 21 was a high-scoring affair with the Owls. Tyler Prendergast potted two goals for Westfield State. I expect this to be another high-scoring affair with the Owls in a 7-6 contest.

Salem State at UMass-Dartmouth

This a game that could surprise Salem State. This won’t be an easy victory for a couple of factors. They haven’t played much on the road yet this season. The other thing, the Vikings needed overtime to defeat the Corsairs 4-3. UMass-Dartmouth has played them tough. This will be a tight game and with the Corsairs’ home rink 185 feet by 80 feet, I expect it to be a defensive game. UMass-Dartmouth with the slight 2-1 upset to tighten up the standings even more.

Framingham State at Worcester State

Legs will be the key in this game. The Rams should have fresher legs coming into the game as it will be three games in five days for Worcester State. By Jan. 25, they will have played four games in a week. I expect that to play a huge role in the game. Even if the Lancers’ schedule wasn’t an issue, Framingham State has played better overall, but the last four games overall, Worcester State has had the slight advantage with a 1-0-3 record. I will take Rams in a 5-4 affair.

MIAC/WIAC – Brian Lester

Time for another week of making picks.

And with the exception of the St. Thomas-Wisconsin-Eau Claire game on Saturday, every game this weekend is a conference matchup. This is the time of the year where the conference championship race begins to really take shape and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the end.

Without further delay, here are my picks for the weekend.

Augsburg vs. Gustavus Adolphus

Augsburg has dropped three of its last four, but is still very much in the hunt for a league title and conference tournament berth. The Auggies have scored 69 goals and Ben McClellan has paved the way with 10. If he has a big weekend and goalie John Bretzman can step up — he has a goals against average of 2.55 — Augsburg will have a chance to climb in the standings. The Gusties haven’t been as productive offensively, racking up only 42 goals, but have been competitive in nearly every game, tying three times in their last six games. Gustavus is chasing a MIAC title as well and a strong effort this weekend would add momentum to that title push. John McLean has a goals against average of 2.43 and I think defense will be a key factor in the outcome. Gustavus, 3-1, Augsburg, 4-2.

St. Mary’s vs. Bethel

The Cardinals have struggled, losing two of their last three, and if they are going to make any sort of push for a playoff spot, they need to start building momentum now. It starts with playing well on defense. St. Mary’s has allowed 41 goals on the season and has managed to score only 29. The Cardinals also have to capitalize on power-play chances, which they have done at times this season, having scored 11 power-play goals. If they can can do that and get an all-around defensive effort, they should be poised for success. The thing about Bethel, though, is the Royals are no pushover despite having won only twice. They have lost six games by just one goal and have tied twice. Bethel will be in both games and if it can get going early offensively, it should be in good shape. Brock Raffaele and Travis Payne lead the Royals with six goals apiece. Bethel, 4-2; Bethel 3-2.

Hamline vs. St. Olaf

Hamline has won only twice all season and finding a way to thrive in this weekend series with St. Olaf will not be easy. The Pipers have managed only 23 goals and have allowed 56. Kevin Novakovich and Tyler Gonzales have tallied four goals apiece and they will need to be on top of their games for Hamline to win. The Pipers are also going to need a strong defensive effort. But St. Olaf, despite being on a five-game winless streak, has proven it can play at a high level. The Oles nearly knocked off No. 1 Adrian this past weekend, playing the Bulldogs to a 4-4 tie, and I think they have the weapons on offense to win both games in this series, especially if Dan Cecka steps up again. He has nine goals this year. St. Olaf, 5-2; St. Olaf 4-2.

St.Thomas vs. Wisconsin-Eau Claire

This will be one of the biggest games in the country as the two nationally-ranked teams square off in a nonconference battle. Goaltending is going to be huge for both teams. The Tommies feature Drew Fielding, who has allowed only 20 goals and has a goals against average of 1.52. When he plays well, the Tommies thrive, and Fielding will no doubt need to play well this weekend. Eau Claire could go with Tyler Green or Jay Deo. The Blugolds enter the week on a five-game win streak and have shut out their last four opponents, with Green and Deo each tallying two shutouts during the run. Either one is capable of playing well in goal. The team that gets the best goaltending effort will prevail. The defending national champions are at home and get the slight edge in this showdown. Eau Claire, 2-1.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point vs. Wisconsin-River Falls

In a battle of two of the top teams in the league and in the country, Stevens Point will be tested as it plays on the road against River Falls. The Pointers have been very effective offensively, racking up 78 goals, and they haven’t been scored on often, allowing only 24 goals. Garrett Ladd has led the way for the Pointers, tallying 13 goals and 13 assists, and he is likely to turn in another stellar effort this weekend. Brandon Jaeger has given up just 22 goals and has made 260 saves. River Falls has lost two of its last three and Stevens Point will be the third consecutive nationally-ranked team it has played. The Falcons have managed only 45 goals and have allowed 29. Willie Hess leads the Falcons with 10 goals while goalie Tanner Milliron has a goals against average of 1.45, while Scott Lewan has a 2.45 goals against average. Either one can play at a high level and both will need to be ready to go this weekend. Stevens Point, 4-2; River Falls, 5-4.

Wisconsin-Stout vs. Wisconsin-Superior

Stout will have to be on top of its game defensively to have a shot at earning at least a split out of the weekend series with Superior. The Blue Devils have given up 46 goals and Corey Koop has spent most of the time in goal and has tallied 457 saves. If Koop plays well, the Blue Devils will be in a position to win. It has given up three or more goals in seven of its nine losses and that number has to come down for Stout to have a shot. Superior has had a hard time finding wins lately. The Yellow Jackets have only one win in their last six games and have been blanked twice during the stretch. Superior needs to be able to get going offensively early, with players such as Cody Hotchkin and Pat Dalbec getting involved and making an impact. If those two play well, Superior could get back on track this weekend. Drew Strandberg and Dayn Belfour have combined to allow 38 goals and have 192 and 126 saves, respectively, this year. I’m expecting this series to end in a split. Superior, 4-3, Stout 5-3.

NESCAC – Tim Costello

Ouch!

A 2-3-0 (.400) week certainly derailed the early season success last weekend, but the overall season record of 17-5-2 (.750) still looks strong headed into a very challenging week of key conference and nonconference matchups.

Friday, Jan. 17

Manhattanville vs. Williams

The Ephs stumbled in a nonconference game at Johnson and Wales last weekend, so look for them to be ready at home against the Valiants. Plattsburgh is on Saturday, so important to focus on the task at hand and win a quality non-conference game. Williams 4-2.

Plattsburgh @ Middlebury

Just which Panther team is going to show up in this great rivalry that has spanned decades in nonconference play, the Primelink tournament and the NCAAs? As is usually the case, goaltending is a key and the home team gets one more save than the visitors to take the win and avenge a bad first period and loss at the Primelink in November. Middlebury 4-3.

Bowdoin @ Trinity

The Polar Bears have come out firing on all cylinders in the second half and now take their show on the road. Trinity has been very good all season and Benjamin Coulthard will make life difficult for the offensive firepower Bowdoin brings from Maine. An empty-netter is final goal and difference-maker in this one. Bowdoin 4-2.

Saturday, Jan. 18

Amherst @ Tufts

It was a tough weekend for the Lord Jeffs in Maine last weekend, so it is back to basics against a Tufts team that has difficulties in stopping teams from scoring in bunches. Pressure, timely scoring, good goaltending and special teams are all part of the formula that works for Amherst against the Jumbos. Amherst 3-1.

Plattsburgh @ Williams

The Ephs should have enough in their tank after playing Manhattanville on Friday, but what do the Cardinals have left in theirs after Middlebury the night before is maybe the better question. Dougherty vs. Cadieux is a great match-up and the visitors supporting cast is just a bit better in this one. Plattsburgh 3-1.

Some great match-ups among some ranked teams highlight a tough schedule – drop the puck!

NCHA – Katie Carito

For the first time in over a month, the NCHA will have a full slate of conference action this weekend.

St. Scholastica at Adrian

The Bulldogs (13-0-2) are the top-ranked team in the country and even in some close games, have found a way to battle it out. St. Scholastica (9-3-3) will be one of the toughest teams for Adrian to overcome. I don’t think the Bulldogs are ready to end their reign on the season, especially at home. Adrian 3-2, 2-1

Finlandia vs. Northland Finlandia (1-12-1) has yet to win a conference game. The Lions most recently dropped 4-3 nonconference game to Bethel. Northland’s (2-13-0) two wins have come from NCHA opponents. Last weekend, they dropped 5-4 to Hamline. I think each team will win at home. Finlandia 3-2, Northland 2-1

St. Norbert vs. Concordia (Wis.)

This home-and-home series will be a battle. St. Norbert (12-2-1) is the fourth-ranked team in the country and has rolled through most of the competition this year. Concordia (8-4-3) is on a six-game win streak and is flying high with confidence. I’m going safe with each team winning at home. Concordia 4-2, St. Norbert 5-2

Lawrence vs Milwaukee School of Engineering

Another home-and home series sees Lawrence (4-10-1) facing off with MSOE (2-12-1). Lawrence is on a four-game losing streak, being shut out in two of the losses. Since the beginning of December, MSOE has been battling to turn its season around after losing nine straight to open the season. I think MSOE has the fight to pull to wins this weekend. MSOE 2-1, 2-1

Marian vs. Lake Forest

In this Saturday and Sunday series, Lake Forest (6-8-1) and Marian (4-9-2) will exchange hosting duties. After a hot three-game winning start to the season, Lake Forest has found a way to tie and win their games last season. Marian is in a slump going 0-2-1 in the new year. Again, I’m going with home-team wins. Lake Forest 2-1, Marian 5-4

Standings starting to come into focus

DSC 1863 sized Standings starting to come into focus

Babson goalie Jamie Murray shuts the door during the Frozen Fenway game last week against Norwich (photo: Mike Tureski).

There were several marquee games across the country in the second week back from the holiday break as Babson-Norwich, Utica-Oswego and St. Scholastica-Wisconsin-River Falls were some of the games that people were keeping an eye on.

Here’s how everything shook out last weekend.

ECAC East

No. 6 Babson and No. 5 Norwich had the stage to themselves on Thursday night at Fenway Park. The two teams didn’t disappoint with Shane Gorman scoring the lone goal to give Norwich the 1-0 victory. Chris Czarnota only needed to make 21 saves for the shutout, while Jamie Murrary made 30 saves for Babson.

Massachusetts-Boston, the third team in the conference ranked in the USCHO.com Men’s Division III Poll at No. 15, had the mild 4-2 upset over Norwich Friday night. Jeremy Finger had two goals for UMass-Boston, while Michael Kuhn and Peter MacIntyre also scored. Norwich picked goals from Travis Jenke and Gerard McEleney.

New England College scored victories over the two Maine schools in conference in Southern Maine and the University of New England.

ECAC Northeast

Johnson and Wales picked up two victories with a 4-0 victory over Massachusetts-Dartmouth and a 3-2 game over Williams in overtime.

Stefan Brucato and Eddie Patterson each scored two goals in the victory over UMass-Dartmouth, while Joey Ballmer made 25 saves for the shutout. Johnson and Wales relied on three different goal-scorers in the win over Williams. Patterson added his third of the weekend and Alex Porrier and Aaron Arm also scored. Ballmer picked up his second win of the weekend.

As for the rest of the conference, it was a tough nonconference weekend. Nichols went 1-1 after dropping a 4-1 decision to Hobart, but bounced back to a 9-4 victory over Morrisville.

ECAC West

Conference-leading Utica split the weekend by beating ECAC Northeast opponent Western New England 5-1 and dropping a 5-3 decision to Oswego.

Five different players scored for the Pioneers in the win over Western New England. Easton Powers had a goal and an assist, while Jon Gaffney, Lou Malvasi, Zac Lazzaro and Kevin Kirisits also scored. Mike Baird had two assists and Nick Therrien made 20 saves.

On Saturday, Ridge Garbutt had a goal and an assist in the loss to Oswego, while Adam Graff and Jordan Hobaica also scored.

Elmira also split the weekend, falling 5-4 on Friday night against Buffalo State. Michael Collins had two goals, while Eric Davis and Carter Shinkaruk also scored. In the 5-1 win on Saturday against Geneseo, Jarryd ten Vaanholt notched two goals with Shinkaruk, Brian Depp and Josh Burnell also scoring. Sal Magliocco made 35 saves in the win.

MASCAC

Westfield State has quietly moved up to the standings to be in a tie for first place. On Wednesday, it picked up an 8-1 victory over Becker. T.J. Powers had two goals, while Taylor Murphy, Jackson Leef and Dalton Jay each had a goal and assist. Tyler Prendergast, Jake Suvak and Maxime Richard also scored.

In a conference matchup between Framingham State, they came away with the 4-1 win. Murphy, Jay, Dan O’Connor and P.J. McCadden scored. Jonathan LoParco picked up the victory in goal. Brendan McCarron scored for Framingham State.

Salem State had the big game against UMass-Boston at the Frozen Fenway event where it fell 4-2 on Tuesday. On Saturday, they returned to conference play, defeating Plymouth State 3-2. Eric Defelice, Kyle Phelan and John Needham scored in the win. Chad Barthelmess and Mike Freitag scored for Plymouth State.

MIAC

St. Thomas picked up a 5-2 victory over Finlandia last Friday night. Thomas Williams had two goals, while Nick Nielson had a goal and assist. Connor McBride and Jordan Lovick also scored. Joe Morris made 17 saves. The Tommies followed up that effort with a 3-0 win over Wisconsin-Superior. Tyler Gubb had a goal and an assist, while Michael Dockery and Alex Nielstrom scored. Drew Fielding made 19 saves for the shutout

Concordia (Minn.) earned two points over the weekend with a 4-4 tie with Marian. Garrett Hendrickson had a hand in all four goals with a hat trick and an assist. Caleb Suderman had the game’s tying goal.

Wisconsin-Stout defeated Concordia (Minn.) on Saturday, 5-4 in overtime. Hendrickson had a goal, while Jeremy Johnson netted a goal and an assist. Jordie Bancoft and Dan Hrabowych also scored in the losing effort.

NCHA

The newly-annointed No. 1 Adrian Bulldogs look to keep the top spot in the USCHO.com Poll as they went 1-0-1 this weekend.

They earned a 4-4 tie Friday night with St. Olaf. Jeremy Olinyk, Josh Cousineau, Shelby Gray and Brent Sauve scored for Adrian. Saturday against Gustavus Adolphus, they earned a 2-0 shutout win on the back of Scott Shackell’s 33-save effort. Cousineau scored along with Kevin Balas.

St. Norbert went to overtime twice this weekend as the Green Knights defeated Wisconsin-River Falls 3-2 when Pijus Rulevicius picked up the game-winner with three seconds remaining in overtime. Brandon Hoogenboom and Chris Rial also scored.

SNC then settled for a 2-2 tie with Wisconsin-Stevens Point as Blake Thompson and Reid Campbell scored for the Green Knights.

NESCAC

Williams and Trinity also had the opportunity to play at Fenway Park on Tuesday. Williams doubled up Trinity 4-2 behind four goals in the final inning. George Hunkele scored twice and added two assists, while Craig Kitto had a goal and assist. Nick Anderson also scored.

For Trinity, Jackson Brewer and Sean Orlando scored.

Amherst traveled up to Maine and dropped both games to Colby and Bowdoin. Tyler Lingel scored twice for Colby in the 5-2 win over Amherst. Nick Lanza, Devin Albert, Ben Chwick also scored. Andrew Fenwick and Brandon Burke scored for Amherst.

Bowdoin came away with the 4-2 win over Amherst with Harry Matheson, Colin Downey, Connor Quinn and Matt Rubinoff all scoring. Aaron Deutsch and Andrew Kurlandski scored for Amerst.

SUNYAC

Plattsburgh continues to have a strong season as the Cardinals picked up a 4-3 win over Skidmore and a 6-1 win over Castleton. Michael Radisa, Dakota Mason, Anthony Calabrese, Barry Roytman all scored in the win over Skidmore, while Spencer Finney made 19 saves in the win. Alex Jensen had a hat trick against Castleton with Michael Cassidy, Graham Yeo and Michael Radisa also scoring.

Geneseo picked up a 7-2 victory over Franklin Pierce on Friday as seven players scored a goal. Nick Horrigan made 18 saves in the victory. Oswego also picked up a 5-3 win over Nazareth. Matt Galati had two goals in the victory.

WIAC

Wisconsin-River Falls, after falling 3-2 to St. Norbert on Friday, ended Saturday with a 3-3 tie with St. Scholastica. Willie Hess, Zach Schrotenboer and Jeff Bergh were the goal-scorers Saturday night. Tanner Milliron made 19 saves.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point defeated Lawrence 7-2 as Max Bobrow led the way with two goals. Kyle Brodie, Garrett Ladd, Kyle Heck, Nick D’Avolio and Kyle Sharkey also lit the lamp. Brandon Jaeger stopped 30 shots in the win.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire defeated Northland 5-0 and Lawrence 4-0

Weekend picks aplenty

larson alex5 sized Weekend picks aplenty

Sophomore goalie Alex Larson has to be strong this weekend to give Nichols a chance to grab two nonconference wins (photo: Jill Souza).

Our slew of men’s Division III columnists is back in the saddle this week with their weekend predictions.

How will games the next few days shake out? Our people have some ideas…

ECAC East – Tim Costello

The first picks of the second half finished at 3-1-1 (.700), which continues this season’s solid performance at 22-7-4 (.727) overall.

This week finds excitement at Frozen Fenway for two of the nation’s best (played Thursday night) and several other key matchups and I won’t shy away from picking the tough ones. It is just a question of how well I can pick them.

Friday, Jan. 10

University of New England @ St. Anselm

The second half did not start so well for the Hawks, but home ice could be a welcome venue against a very game Nor’easters squad. The Hawks need to get more consistent in their overall game and this weekend’s conference matchups bring that focus to the still young team. St. Anselm 4-3.

Skidmore @ Plattsburgh

The Cardinals fell from the No. 1 perch nationally this week so what better way to send a strong message on their quality of play than a quality win against a strong ECAC East opponent. There is too much firepower and disciplined play from the Cardinals for the Thoroughbreds to run amok on the road. Plattsburgh 5-3.

Norwich @ Massachusetts-Boston

What a weekend with three teams being nationally ranked facing each other. The venue is not a Frozen Fenway locale, but the intensity is just as high at the Clark Center for these teams battling for top spots in the standings. It is a playoff-type atmosphere but the Cadets defense is just good enough to hold off the high-powered Beacons. Norwich 4-3.

Saturday, Jan. 11

Castleton @ Plattsburgh

It’s the back end of the travel partners playing against the leaders from the SUNYAC conference and while this one is close, the home team takes it on the strength of special teams for a weekend sweep. Plattsburgh 3-2.

League leaders or other match-ups are all important points and potential tie-breakers – drop the puck!

ECAC Northeast – Nathan Fournier

Friday, Jan. 10

Manhattanville at Curry

Curry continues to struggle after dropping games last week to Oswego and Wisconsin-Stout. It doesn’t get any easier with Manahattanville coming into town. Manhattanville will be playing its first game of the New Year. They possess a potent power play at 28.6 percent. I expect them to have no problem with Curry in a 5-1 victory.

Hobart at Nichols

This will be a very entertaining game with Hobart playing a very competitive schedule and Nichols off to a strong start. Hobart relies on everyone on the roster to contribute, while Nichols has four guys with ten or more points. Both teams are very good on the penalty kill. I expect this game to be a tight game. I will go with Nichols 3-2.

Western New England at Utica

This should be a very wide-open game with Western New England scoring 44 goals in 12 games with Utica scoring 46 goals in 13 games. Utica is 3-2 at home, while Western New England is 1-3 on the road. I think Western New England doesn’t have the depth as Utica and I have the Pioneers taking this game 5-3.

Saturday, Jan. 11

Curry at Connecticut College

Both teams are looking for wins, so I expect it to be a competitive game. The Colonels will have to try to keep JC Cangelosi in check who has six goals and eight assists in 11 games for Connecticut College. I will go with Curry in a 3-2 game.

Morrisville at Nichols

Morrisville has struggled this season, so it could a trap game for Nichols. The Mustangs have a very good power play at 25.4 percent. Two of their three wins this season have come on the road. I will go with the Bison of Nichols in a 6-4 contest.

Hobart at Salve Regina

The Seahawks will have a tough test against Hobart. They also need a victory as they have lost six in a row. The good news is they return home where five out of their seven wins have come come from. Hobart will be playing their second game in a row. In a high-scoring affair, I will take the Seahawks 5-4.

Canton at Suffolk

Canton is 1-2 against ECAC Northeast opponents this season, picking up a victory over Becker while falling to Western New England and Nichols. This should be a competitive game with Suffolk. The Rams are 3-1 at home, which I expect to help them as they look for their first victory of 2014. Suffolk in a 5-2 contest.

Sunday, Jan. 12

Morrisville at Becker

The Hawks are hoping for a better start in the second half of the season after a rocky first half. They should be ready to go as they wait for Morrisville to roll into town. Cody Edwards is expected to be a leader for Becker offensively. If he can get going, Becker will be a very tough team to play against. At the end of the day, I will take Morrisville in a 4-3 game.

Canton at Curry

Curry will be playing their third game of the weekend. There will be some tired legs for them, but Canton should have some bus legs of their own. It won’t be the greatest game to ever be played, but it will a competitive one. I will take the home team in this one and I predict Curry picking up its second win of the weekend in a 2-1 game.

Monday, Jan. 13

Stonehill at Western New England

Stonehill is a team to be respected and Western New England will have its hands full. They are very good on the penalty kill and have four wins on the road. They also have five guys with 10 points or more. The Golden Bears are 6-1 at home. Western New England will take this game 6-3.

Tuesday, Jan. 14

Western New England at Assumption

Assumption has struggled this season and I believe Western New England should have no problem with Assumption. The Greyhounds have a respectful penalty kill which could frustrate the Golden Bears, if they can’t get their power play going. Western New England takes this one 7-1.

Manhattanville at Nichols

This is will a very good midweek nonconference contest. The key for Nichols is to make sure Manhattanville doesn’t get out to a lead in the first period. The Valiants are 6-0 when they leading after one period. I expect Alex Larson to see a lot of pucks in the game. In the end, I see him backstopping Nichols to a 4-2 win.

Salve Regina at Oswego

The Seahawks play another strong nonconference opponent in Oswego. It will be a good test for Salve Regina heading into in conference play. If Salve Regina can outshoot Oswego, they could have a chance as the are 6-2 when they are outshooting their opponents. Still, I think Oswego will take this game 7-4.

Wednesday, Jan. 15

Stonehill at Becker

Stonehill has offensive firepower that I believe will be tough for Becker to contain. They are very good at closing games with a 5-1 record when leading after two periods. I have Stonehill winning 6-2.

ECAC West – Dan Hickling

Friday, Jan. 10

Western New England (8-5-0) @ No. 8 Utica (9-2-2) – Utica 4, WNEC 2

WNEC is a Jekyll and Hyde bunch — can’t lose at home, can’t seem to win on the road. Utica, which has been ambushed before at home (remember Morrisville?), will not be caught laying back this time.

Saturday, Jan. 11

Hobart (4-4-4) @ Salve Regina (6-7-0) – Hobart 5 Salve Regina 1

Here you have two teams heading in opposite directions. Hobart is fresh off its win against (then) top-ranked Plattsburgh eager to get back into the national picture. Salve is in a free-fall having lost six straight after a 6-1-0 start. No change in trajectories this time out.

MASCAC – Nathan Fournier

Saturday, Jan. 11

Worcester State at Massachusetts-Dartmouth

Both teams have struggled so far this season, but at times, UMass-Dartmouth has been competitive and I believe they will come out on top. If Worcester State can outshoot UMass-Dartmouth, the Corsairs haven’t won a game when outshooting their opponnet. I have the Corsairs winning 4-2.

Plymouth State at Salem State

Even though Plymouth State is traveling to Salem State, I give them the advantage because I think Salem State will have a let down game after playing in Fenway Park. Plymouth State will be hungry for a victory, so I will take the Panthers in a 5-3 victory.

Framingham State at Westfield State

This should be a very good contest. Framingham State is coming off a tough loss to Western New England last weekend. Both teams have four wins in the conference. I think Westfield pulls it off in a 3-2 win.

Tuesday, Jan. 14

Westfield State at Southern New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire has a strong club and have scored 59 goals and have a 36.1 percent conversion rate on the man-advantage. Westfield will have to tighten up their power play. I will take Southern New Hampshire in a 6-4 game.

Thursday, Jan. 16

Massachusetts-Dartmouth at Framingham State

A game that sees last season’s MASCAC playoff champion and the team that has finally reached their potential this season in Framingham State. I expect it to be a very tight game, but I believe UMass-Dartmouth will get snakebitten in a close game once again. The Rams will take it 4-3.

Salem State at Westfield State

Salem State should be refocused and take on a Westfield team that will be playing their second game in three days. In a tight conference, this game means a lot to both teams who are looking to be one of the top four teams in MASCAC. The Vikings take this one 6-3.

Fitchburg State at Plymouth State

The Falcons of Fitchburg State could climb to the top half of the MASCAC with a victory. They spread their offense over four players who have accumulated 10 or more points this season. Picking up a win over last season’s regular-season champion will be a confidence boast. The Falcons win it 4-3.

MIAC/WIAC – Brian Lester

As we enter the second weekend of January, teams in the MIAC and WIAC find themselves involved in several crossover games.

They are the type of games that provide good tests for the teams from both leagues and can turn out to be launching pads for success in league play or hamper the momentum teams hope to carry back into conference play during the second half.

The delay is over, though. It’s time to take my best shot at predicting the outcomes of this weekend’s games.

Here are the picks. Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, Jan. 10

St. John’s vs. Wisconsin-Sout

The Johnnies enter this game at 6-6 overall and will be looking to take care of business at home. They haven’t been bad offensively, scoring 31 goals on the year, but only two players have four or more goals. Josh Gross and Tyson Fulton have tallied four goals apiece and will be counted on to play well this weekend.

But the big key for the Johnnies is to get the job done on defense behind the play of goalie Saxton Soley. He has allowed 19 goals and has racked up 200 saves on the season. If he plays well, the Johnnies are going to be in a position to win.

Stout has won two of its last three and is 4-8. The Blue Devils seem to have found their footing after losing five consecutive games and they are capable of matching the Johnnies from an offensive standpoint.

Kevin O’Donnell leads the Blue Devils with seven goals. Stout has scored 33 goals in all. But Stout has allowed 37 goals on the year and the play of goalie Corey Koop could make or break Stout’s chances in this game. He has allowed 34 goals and has tallied 378 saves. I’ll give the Johnnies the edge because they are at home. St. John’s, 3-2.

St. Olaf vs. Adrian

The Oles have played a rigorous schedule already, facing off against several nationally-ranked teams, and it doesn’t get much easier playing top-ranked Adrian.

St. Olaf comes in on a three-game winless streak and is 3-8-2 overall. For the Oles to have a shot, Dan Cecka has to be on top of his game offensively. Cecka has racked up seven goals and three assists on the year. The Oles will have to be on top of their game defensively as well. They have allowed 40 goals on the year.

If St. Olaf can steal momentum early, it might have a shot, but it won’t be easy against an Adrian team that is 12-0-1 and ranked No. 1 for the first time in program history.

The Bulldogs have punched 63 goals into the net, including 15 by Josh Ranalli, and have allowed only 16 goals on the season. Adrian simply has too many offensive options to come up short in this one. Adrian 5-1.

Bethel vs. Wisconsin-Superior

Bethel hasn’t had an easy season, sitting at just 1-9-2 on the year, and it has yet to win a game at home. The Royals have been competitive, though, losing six games by a goal, and I expect them to battle hard again on Friday.

Bethel needs to be productive on offense. It has scored only 24 goals on the year, with Brock Rafaelle and Travis Payne tallying five goals apiece. If others can step up around them, the Royals could be in a position to grind out a win.

Superior is only 4-7-2 and has tallied 32 goals on the season. Pat Dalbec and Cody Hotchkin have struck for five goals apiece. The Yellow Jackets have allowed 37 goals, though, while Bethel has given up 40.

The team that takes control early is going to be in good shape and skate to the win. Superior is on a four-game winless streak but I expect them to end that against the Royals. Superior, 4-3.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point vs. Lawrence

The Pointers are No. 2 in the country and 11-1 on the season. They have won their last two games and nail down another win at home.

With 69 goals on the year, Stevens Point will be tough to deal with. Garrett Ladd leads the way with 12 goals and Joe Kalisz has tallied eight goals. Five other players have scored at least five goals, and that balance can be a pain to deal with for any opponent.

If the Pointers are clicking offensively, they are going to be just fine because I don’t think Lawrence will be able to keep pace with their offensive attack.

The Pointers have also been tough on the power play, having scored 14 goals in 52 opportunities. Opponents are just 6-of-58 on the power play against the Pointers.

Lawrence, after all, has struggled to keep opponents off the scoreboard. It has allowed 58 goals on the season and has scored just 36 goals. Blake Roubos leads Lawrence with six goals and nine assists.

Goalie Anton Olsson will be tested for Lawrence, and if he plays his best game of the year, perhaps the Poiners will be upset. I don’t see it happening. Stevens Point, 6-1.

Saturday, Jan. 11

Gustavus Adolphus vs. Adrian

Gustavus is having a pretty good season. The Gusties are 7-3-2 and haven’t lost a game since Nov. 15. It has picked up five wins during that seven-game stretch, but keeping that momentum going won’t be easy against the Bulldogs.

Gustavus has scored 40 goals this season, including eight by Corey Leivermann, and John McLean has racked up 229 saves while fashioning a 2.52 goals against average. Gustavus should be able to hang around, but pulling off the upset will require its best effort of the year. Again, I think Adrian’s offense will be too much to handle. Adrian, 5-2.

Concordia (Minn.) vs. Wisconsin-Stout

The Cobbers are 9-3-1 and have won three consecutive games. Caleb Suderman has been pivotal to Concordia’s success, having scored nine goals and dished out seven assists on the season.

If he has a big game, the Cobbers are going to be in a position to take care of business. Concordia has tallied 43 goals in all and should have the edge offensively against Stout. The Cobbers will also be able to lean on the play of Chris Neamonitis, who has a goals against average of 1.82. If he is on top of his game, the Cobbers won’t have any problems winning this nonconference battle. Concordia, 5-2.

St. Thomas vs. Wisconsin-Superior

The Tommies have a MIAC championship in their sights this season and the last thing they want to do is have that momentum slowed down by a nonconference opponent. St. Thomas is 8-2-2 and has lost only once in its last seven games.

The difference-maker could be goalie Drew Fielding, who owns a goals-against average of 1.64. He has racked up 319 saves on the season and he will make it difficult for the Yellow Jackets to cash in on scoring opportunities.

Plus, the Tommies aren’t bad on offense either. Alex Altenbernd leads the way with six goals, but his teammates are more than capable of stepping up at any given time. I don’t expect St. Thomas to have a tough time picking up another win. St. Thomas, 4-1.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Lawrence

Eau Claire is starting to find its stride a bit, having won three consecutive games, and this will mark the second time this season the defending national champions have played Lawrence.

The Blugolds earned a 5-0 win in the last meeting and I don’t expect that result to change too much this time around.

Joe Krause leads Eau Claire with eight goals and seven assists and the Blugolds have scored 45 goals as a team while allowing only 25. Offensively, they should be able to overwhelm Lawrence and make it tough for goals to be scored as well. Eau Claire, 4-0.

NESCAC – Tim Costello

The snow storm on New Year’s did raise some havoc with the schedule, including the postponement of Trinity vs. Becker. I still finished at 3-1-0 (.750) for the week and now stand at 15-2-2 (.842) overall. Back into league play this week and everything is up for grabs for just about everyone in the conference.

Here are the picks:

Friday, Jan. 10

Wesleyan vs. Williams

The Cardinals really have shown their balance in scoring across key players like freshman Elliott Vorel, senior Keith Buehler and last week’s conference player of the week, Jay Matthews. Only problem is the Ephs just don’t give up too many goals. In this case, the defense wins out at home. Williams 3-2.

Trinity @ Middlebury

Congratulations to coach Bill Beaney on his 500th win at the school last weekend. He is just 14 wins away from 600 for his overall career and the Bantams would be a big win for his team that looks to continue their current winning streak on home ice. Middlebury 4-2.

Saturday, Jan. 11

Hamilton @ Colby

The Continentals have two big time players in Michael DiMare and Joe Quattrocchi and their leadership will be a big difference maker against a still-maturing Colby squad that is looking for consistency in their overall game. Hamilton 4-2.

Amherst @ Bowdoin

The Polar Bears will need to find their game in high gear to start their move up the standings and beating a team above them is a good way to start move north. Hopefully, the holidays have a healthy lineup paying dividends for the home team. Bowdoin 3-1.

Williams @ Johnson and Wales

The Ephs have had an interesting New Year already with a holiday tournament, date at Frozen Fenway and two tough league opponents right out of the gate. That said, they won’t take J & W lightly on Saturday night on the road. Williams 4-1.

It’s time to see who is going to get hot and who is still on break – drop the puck!

SUNYAC – Dan Hickling

Friday, Jan. 10

Skidmore (6-4-4) @ No. 3 Plattsburgh (10-1-2) – Plattsburgh 3, Skidmore 1

The Cardinals are bound to be feeling a little owly after suffering their first loss of the year last weekend and being toppled from the No. 1 ranking, and on home ice, no less. Skidmore is a solid club, but Plattsburgh will likely be on its full game.

Sunday, Jan. 12

Morrisville (3-8-1) @ Becker (1-9-2) – Morrisville 5 Becker 3

An interconference tilt pitting a pair of victory-starved clubs. Should be interesting. Should be a win for the ‘Stangs.

Holiday tournament happenings

BEANEY2 sized Holiday tournament happenings

Middlebury coach Bill Beaney earned his 500th career win with the Panthers last weekend (photo: Dennis Curran).

There was plenty of excitement in holiday tournaments as nonconference action dominated the first weekend of the New Year to open the second half of the season.

ECAC East

Norwich (9-1-2) hosted and won the Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament over the weekend.

On Friday night, the Cadets shut out the Milwaukee School of Engineering (2-11-0), holding the Engineers to just three shots on goal for the night. Saturday saw another five-goal night with a 5-1 victory over Amherst (7-3-0).

Senior forward Travis Janke (2-2-4) had four points on the weekend and is now tied as the leading scorer for the Cadets with fellow senior Shane Gorman, as they each have a matching 5-14-19 scoring line.

ECAC West

Hobart (4-4-4) takes bragging rights as well as the Buck Supply Winter Classic Championship winners this past weekend as they posted two victories against unbeaten opponents.

On Friday night, Mac Olson was the hero of the evening as he notched the game-winning overtime goal against Williams (5-1-2) nine seconds into the extra period. Saturday night, the Statesmen handed the host team, Plattsburgh (10-1-2), its first loss of the season as they skated to a 3-1 victory over the nation’s top-ranked team.

MIAC

There were only two games in the league for the weekend, with neither ending in a MIAC win.

On Saturday, St. Thomas (8-2-2) fell 5-2 to St. Norbert (11-2-0) in a road contest. St. Olaf (3-8-2) suffered a loss to Wisconsin-River Falls (9-1-1) with a 4-2 score.

NCHA

Adrian (12-0-1) is the only team left in the nation that has yet to suffer a regulation loss this season.

The Bulldogs skated to 6-2 win on Friday against Buffalo State (5-7-3) and then the Bulldogs secured the weekend sweep with a 4-3 win on Saturday. Adrian went 5-for-8 on the power-play on Friday night.

Junior forward Justin Basso shined on the man-advantage as he scored two goals on special teams.

NESCAC

Middlebury (5-3-2) captured the Middlebury Holiday Classic title, which marked head coach Bill Beaney’s 500th win in 27 seasons with the program.

Middlebury downed Neaumann (5-4-3) by a 3-1 count for the milestone win after beating St. Michael’s (1-8-1) 6-2 on Friday night.

Overall, Beaney has 586 wins over 34 years as a Division III head coach, the most wins all-time.

SUNYAC

Oswego (6-2-2) hosted and won the Pathfinder Bank Oswego Classic tournament last weekend and beat Curry 3-0 on Friday night before skating to a 2-2 tie with Utica (9-2-2) on Saturday.

To determine a winner of the tournament, the teams battled through a five-minute overtime before heading to a shootout. The Lakers won the shootout 2-1 to win the tournament.

WIAC

It was a quiet weekend in the WIAC, but a successful Saturday for the league.

Wisconsin-Stout (4-8-0) beat Curry (2-7-1) 3-2 on Saturday night in the Pathfinder Bank Oswego Classic third-place game. On Friday night, the Blue Devils dropped a 4-2 contest to Utica.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point (11-1-0) upended Lake Forest (5-7-0) 4-3 on Saturday, while Wisconsin-River Falls (9-1-1) beat St. Olaf (3-8-2) in a pair of nonconference contests.

Starting off 2014 with predictions

All that is left of the fruitcake is crumbs and memories, Santa is back home resting and the trees and decorations are being put away.

Resolutions have been made and in most cases, already broken.

That said, the men’s Division III conferences get back to work this weekend and our crack staff has returned with its picks for this weekend’s games and contests that go down next week.

ECAC East – Tim Costello

The last week’s picks of the first half finished at 3-0-0 (1.000), which brings this season total to an excellent 19-6-3 (.707). The New Year starts out with some nonconference and tournament action that will definitely challenge my accuracy in the second half.

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Jan. 3

Milwaukee School of Engineering @ Norwich

The Cadets host the Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament annually and look to get off to a good start by being not-so-gracious hosts to their visitors from the west. The likely matchup with Amherst on Saturday should be a great one, but the Cadets won’t get caught looking past MSOE. Norwich 5-2.

Nichols @ Skidmore

This non-conference matchup is so close that I should pick a tie, but will give the Thoroughbreds the win based on home-ice advantage and their ability to take advantage of it. The big sheet will challenge both teams to find their skating legs early in the second half following the holiday break. Skidmore 4-3.

Salve Regina @ Castleton

The Spartans host another nonconference foe to open the second half and should not take this ECAC Northeast opponent lightly. Special teams are the likely difference maker in this one with an empty-netter accounting for the final marker. Castleton 5-3.

St. Anselm @ Potsdam

It is a homecoming of sorts for coach Ed Seney at Potsdam in this nonconference game. The Hawks got it going to wrap up the first half and look to extend their current win streak against a quality SUNYAC opponent. Great goaltending and just enough offense are the difference-makers in this one. St. Anselm 4-3.

Neumann @ Southern Maine

Both teams are still looking for the consistency needed to compete at the top of their respective leagues. The Huskies had it going, but floundered a bit to end the first half, so look for a lot of jump against a tough team from the ECAC West to start play in the New Year. Southern Maine 4-3.

Nothing better to ring in the New Year than starting the second half with a win or two – drop the puck!

ECAC Northeast – Nathan Fournier

Friday, Jan. 3

Trinity at Becker

This isn’t a matchup Becker wants to start the second half of the year with Trinity’s strong start. The Bantams’ offense has carried them to a 6-2 record so far. They won’t panic if Becker gets on the board first as Trinity is a perfect 4-0-0 when scored on first. Becker will have a tough time scoring, in my opinion, and will fall 5-2.

Salve Regina at Castleton

The Seahawks will have had 26 days off since they lost 5-1 to Utica. With that bad taste in their mouth, I expect them to come out firing against Castleton. They also need a victory on the road and a nonconference victory. It shouldn’t be a cakewalk as Castleton carries a 6-4-1 record this season. They have offensive depth that could be a problem for Salve Regina, who will squeak out a 4-3 victory.

Nichols at Skidmore

The Thoroughbreds have played strong in nonconference play. They are very strong defensively, only allowing 2.55 goals per game and their penalty kill is shutting down the opponents power play 88.7 percent of the time. Nichols will rely on goaltender Alex Larson, who has been simply outstanding this season. I think Larson will be too much for Skidmore in a tight 3-2 victory.

Curry at Oswego

Curry will have its hands full with Oswego. I don’t believe Curry is at the same level and will have trouble containing the Lakers. Curry will have to get better offensively in the second half of the season. I have the Lakers winning this one 7-1.

The winner of this game will face the winner of Utica/Wisconsin-Stout game on Saturday, while the losers face off the same day.

Saturday, Jan. 4

Nichols at Castleton

This should be a very good and compelling contest. The Spartans have the offensive firepower to put pressure on Nichols’ goaltender Alex Larson. They also feel comfortable at home with a 4-2 record. Nichols can exploit their penalty killing, though, as the Spartans only kill off 71.4 percent of their opponents’ power plays. The Bison power play converts 20 percent of the time. Nichols will take this one 4-3.

Salve Regina at Skidmore

Another good contest. If Salve Regina wants to pick up the victory, it will have to get off to fast start as they are 3-0 when scoring first. They are also 6-1 when outshooting their opponent. Both teams will be facing the second game of a back-to-back. Expect both teams to be a little sluggish and I have Skidmore to come out with a 5-3 victory.

Western New England at Trinity

This should be a very good game between two teams that know how to put the puck in the net. Fourteen of Western New England’s 38 goals have come on the man-advantage, while Trinity has scored 12 times on their 30 total goals. I expect both teams to score at least three goals at least in a wide open game. I will take Trinity in a 7-4 game.

Suffolk at Massachusetts-Boston

A very tough challenge for Suffolk against UMass-Boston to open up the second half of the year. UMass-Boston will have to make sure they aren’t looking ahead to the Fenway Park game against Salem State on Tuesday, as Suffolk could surprise them. The Rams will need a big game from Tim Sprague and Charlie McGinnis. I will take UMass-Boston 6-1.

The winner will face the winner of the Southern New Hampshire-Tufts game, while the losers will face each other in the third-place game of the Codfish Bowl on Sunday.

Tuesday, Jan. 7

Framingham State at Western New England

The Golden Bears are going to be playing in their second game of six games in 10 days. It will be very important for them to rack up wins early in that stretch before they head out to New York to face Brockport and Utica on Jan. 9 and 10, respectively. For Framingham State, they look to continue their momentum from a strong first half of the season. In the end, I will take the Golden Bears as I like their depth in a 4-2 game.

Wednesday, Jan 8

Westfield State at Becker

Westfield State will be looking for their first nonconference win of the season when they travel to Becker. They have the offense to make that happen, but their defense will need to tighten up up as they are allowing 3.55 goals per game. Becker, with only one win on the season, is hoping 2014 will be more kind to them. I will take Westfield in a 5-1 game

Thursday, Jan. 9

Johnson and Wales at Massachusetts-Dartmouth

Johnson and Wales will look to their offensive totals against UMass-Dartmouth. They are at their best when they come out of the gate strong in the first period. UMass-Dartmouth only has two wins on the season when they were leading after one period. If the Corsairs can stop the line of Josh Obregon-Cody Sarmiento-Stefan Brucato, they could have a chance with an upset. I won’t bet on that happening and will take Johnson and Wales in a 7-2 victory.

Wentworth at Plymouth State

I believe the Leopards will have their hands full with Plymouth State. Not too many goal-scorers have emerged in the first half with only two players having four goals so far this season. It’s a game where Plymouth State can build off confidence with a strong defensive effort. I expect Ian McGilvrey and Zack Sarig to lead Plymouth State to a 6-3 victory.

Western New England at Brockport

The Golden Bears continue their road trip against the Golden Eagles. This is a very winnable game for Western New England. Brockport has allowed 52 goals this season in 12 games, so the Golden Bears will be licking their chops. Brockport hasn’t been able to keep games close this season, so expect Western New England to potentially jump on them early. I have Western New England winning this one 8-2.

ECAC West – Dan Hickling

Friday, Jan. 3

No. 9 Utica vs. Wisconsin-Stout @ Oswego – Utica 4, Stout 0

This is the opening tilt of Oswego’s Pathfinder Bank Classic. The question is not the result, but which Pioneer goaltender — senior Nick Therrien or freshman Marcus Zelzer — will get the win.

Neumann vs. Southern Maine @ Middlebury – Neumann 3, USM 0

Knights’ senior goalie Braely Torris spent two years in the nets for USM. Don’t think he wouldn’t love to slam the door on his old mates.

MASCAC – Nathan Fournier

Friday, Jan 3

Wentworth at Salem State

Salem State is coming off a loss to Babson and Wentworth lost to Colby on Thursday. This could be a trap game with a Wentworth squad struggling and Salem State looking at a big matchup with Massachusetts-Boston on Tuesday as part of the Frozen Fenway festivities. I think Wentworth will suprise Salem State and get on a winning track in a game that will feature some offense – Wentworth Leopards win 5-1.

Amherst at Plymouth State

A tough game for Plymouth State coming back from the break. Amherst is the 15th-ranked team in the country. Amherst is only averaging 2.88 goals per game so far this season and Plymouth State has had plenty of offensive shootouts this season. It will be interesting how special teams will play a part in this contest with Plymouth State’s power play at 27.1 percent and the Lord Jeffs’ penalty kill at 89.8 percent. I will take Amherst in a 4-3 game.

The winner will face the winner Norwich-Milwaukee School of Engineering game on Saturday and the two losers will face off also on Saturday.

Tuesday, Jan 7

Salem State at Massachusetts-Boston (at Fenway Park)

What a treat for these two teams to get an opportunity to play at one of the most historic ballparks in the country. The key to this game is to make sure players don’t get awestruck. The team that can keep their emotions in check will probably come out on top. UMass-Boston was clicking offensively in the first half and look to continue the same in the second half. The key for Salem State is to keep the game close as they are 4-1 in one-goal games. I have UMass-Boston in a 5-3 game.

Assumption at Fitchburg State

Fitchburg State eases into the second half of the season with an Assumption squad that has been struggling this season. They are scoring a little over two goals this season. The one positive for Assumption has been their penalty kill this season at 85.2 percent. I believe Fitchburg has too much offense for Assumption to contain and I will go with the Falcons in a 6-2 victory.

NESCAC – Tim Costello

It will be quite a challenge to maintain the picks at the level of the first half that finished at 12-1-2 (.867). Interesting nonconference and tournament action to kick things off in 2014, so here are the picks for this weekend:

Friday, Jan. 3

Plymouth State vs. Amherst

Amherst, hopefully, has healed a few bodies over the holiday break that will add to their depth. Too strong in all three zones for the Panthers, who show they can compete with any top team in the country. Amherst 4-2.

Hobart vs. Williams

The Ephs should get the chance to play against the nation’s No. 1 team, but will need to play solid against a feisty Hobart team that is much better than their record indicates. Frozen Fenway date looming early next week, but the Ephs get the job done in typical close fashion. Williams 3-2.

St. Michael’s @ Middlebury

Hosting your own tournament does put a little pressure on the home team, but not as much as what they put on themselves to get the second half off to a good start. The Purple Knights are winless so far this season and the Panthers keep them that way on Friday. Middlebury 5-2.

Trinity @ Becker

The Bantams should be focused and healthy for this nonconference matchup. After stumbling in the first half against Stonehill, look for Trinity to come out strong early against Becker. Trinity 3-1.

Saturday, Jan. 4

New England College @ Wesleyan

The Cardinals have shown their offensive prowess in the first half and face a team that has won with a lot of different strengths. Expect this game to be physical and a power-play or shorthanded goal to be the difference in the game. Wesleyan 4-2.

No easy ones for anyone to start the second half, so you better be ready to play – drop the puck!

SUNYAC – Dan Hickling

Friday, Jan. 3

No. 2 Adrian @ Buffalo State – Buff State 3, Adrian 2

It’s tough to pick against the second-ranked team in the nation, especially one of the few unbeatens left in the land. But in this case, we will. Buff State has the makings of a very good team, provided all parts of its game is in synch. This could be the night for that.

Hamilton @ No. 1 Plattsburgh – Plattsburgh 5, Hamilton 1

The Cardinals are primed to pick up where they left off before the break when they were clicking on all cylinders. Hamilton, a middle-of-the-pack NESCAC squad, can give the nation’s top-ranked team a good game, but not good enough.

Less can be more as door closes on 2013

Collins EdZ sized Less can be more as door closes on 2013

Geneseo and Nazareth took to the outdoors at Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y., on Sunday, with Geneseo eking out a 3-2 victory (photo: Dan Hickling).

With the holiday break having begun in earnest, the weekend just past saw little in the way of Division III action.

However, less is often more, and so it was on Sunday in Rochester, N.Y, where No. 14 Geneseo and Nazareth hooked up in what could be called the “Currier and Ives Classic.”

In sum, the teams skated outdoors at Frontier Field as part of Rochester’s 10-day long celebration of hockey.

The game itself lived up to the build up as Geneseo eked out a 3-2 win.

Tyler Brickler scored twice (Nos. 7 and 8) for the Ice Knights, countering two tallies by Nazareth freshman Ben Blasko (4 and 5).

The only action No. 11 Utica saw was at home against the U.S. National Under-18 Team, a tilt the Pioneers won handily 4-1. Four different scorers connected for Utica and freshman goalie Marcus Zelzer turned aside 29 shots offered by the 18s, a team drawn heavily from D-I commits and NHL draft candidates.

St. Scholastica endured the toughest weekend among all USCHO.com ranked teams. The ninth-ranked Saints dropped both of their starts, 3-2 at St. John’s on Friday, then were blanked at home the following night by No. 6 St. Thomas.

Picks to finish out 2013

DSC 8859 Picks to finish out 2013

Can Lawrence keep stringing together wins and celebrate like this after Blake Roubos’ game-winning goal last Saturday against St. Norbert (photo: Paul Wilke)?

It’s hard to believe that the first half is coming to a close, but with that said, there still are some meaningful games this weekend, so let’s see what our columnists have to say about those.

ECAC East – Tim Costello

Last week’s picks finished at 3-2-0 (.600), which brings this season total to a very good 16-6-3 (.700). There is just one more weekend for a few remaining teams and these nonconference showdowns will still have a lot riding on the outcome for morale heading into the break.

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Dec. 13

Wentworth @ Massachusetts-Boston

The Beacons really want to end the semester on a roll and haven’t played at home in quite a while, so what better way to head into the break than by sending the home fans home with a fifth straight win? UMB is hitting its stride and not so sure the coach is happy to see the break coming now. Massachusetts-Boston 5-2.

Cortland @ New England College

This pair of games over the weekend is the return end of last year’s visit by the Pilgrims to Cortland for a pair of weekend games. Home team had the advantage last year and the Pilgrims look to repeat the phenomenon with some home cooking of their own against this SUNYAC rival. New England College 4-3.

Saturday, Dec. 14

Plymouth State @ Castleton

The Spartans host another team that wears green and white. However, the visitors from the MASCAC have all they can handle with a Castleton team that seems to need those magical four goals offensively to pick up a win this season. Go one better in this one with the desired outcome. Castleton 5-3.

Cortland @ New England College

Always difficult to beat the same team back-to-back, but the similarities in this game to Friday night’s are scary, including a bookend score that makes the Pilgrims happy to head into the break on a winning streak. New England College 4-3.

Done until after Christmas, so lots of time to rest up. Play hard for just one more weekend – drop the puck!

ECAC Northeast – Nathan Fournier

Buffalo State at Johnson and Wales

Buffalo Stare comes in to Providence for two games this weekend on Friday and Saturday. Johnson and Wales has allowed under two goals per game and its penalty kill has been outstanding at 90.2 percent this season. The Bengals of Buffalo State have been front runners so far this season with a 3-0-2 record when leading after one goal. I believe both games will be close, but I think Johnson Wales sweeps – 4-3 on Friday and 6-4 on Saturday.

Friday, Dec. 13

Wentworth at UMass-Boston

The Leopards seem to be getting it together the last few weeks. They are still having trouble putting the puck into the net and will have a big test against UMass-Boston. They have scored over four goals a game and only allowed a little over two goals a game. With a 2-5-1 record on the road for Wentworth, I will go with the Beacons of Boston in a 6-2 game.

ECAC West – Dan Hickling

Sunday, Dec. 15

No. 14 Geneseo vs. Nazareth – Geneseo 5, Nazareth 2

Home-ice advantage? Not really, because this one will be played outdoors at Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y. Both teams will be able to draw upon a loud, festive fan base that may be as taken with the occasion than the actual play on the portable ice. That means the result should come down to talent and although Nazareth has some good young building blocks in place, Geneseo’s cast is far deeper. Still, it would be a surprise if anyone came away from this one grumpy.

MASCAC – Nathan Fournier

Plymouth State at Castleton State

The lone game on the schedule in MASCAC is a nonconference game for Plymouth State against Castleton State. This could be a high-scoring affairs as both teams struggle on the penalty kill. Plymouth State has a very good power play and that could be the difference-maker in this contest on Saturday night. I’ll take Plymouth State, 6-4.

MIAC/WIAC – Brian Lester

Well, here we are, just about done with the first half of the season. The final games of 2013 will be played this weekend and I’ve selected a few games to make predictions on.

We shall see how smart I am this week.

Hope everyone enjoys their Christmas and New Year and look forward to resuming the picks in 2014.

MIAC

Friday, Dec. 13

St. Scholastica at St. John’s

The Johnnies are looking to get back on track after dropping two of their last three games. The good new is St. John’s is coming off a shutout win over Augsburg and that momentum should carry over into this week in a key nonconference game. For St. John’s to prevail, goalie Saxton Soley needs to be on top of his game. Soley has a goals-against average of 2.15 and a save percentage of .912. The Saints have a stellar goalie as well in Tyler Bruggeman, who has allowed only eight goals and has stopped 117 shots. I expect this one to be a defensive battle. St. John’s 2-1.

Saturday, Dec. 14

St. Thomas at St. Scholastica

Goaltending could be again as the Tommies feature one of the best in college hockey in Drew Fielding. The Tommies have been playing well all year, sitting atop the MIAC and Fielding has had a lot to do with that success, owning a goals-against average of 1.47. He has three shutouts on the year as well, which ties him for the most in the nation. I like the Tommies to steal a big win on the road. St. Thomas 3-2.

Concordia (Minn.) at Northland

The Cobbers close out December with a two-game road series against Northland. Concordia has played well for the most part, going 2-1-1 in its last four games, and Caleb Suderman will need to have a big game for the Cobbers to thrive on the road. Suderman has scored seven goals and tallied three assists on the season as well. Goalie Chris Neamonitis needs to be sharp as well. He has givein up 19 goals on the year and owns a goals-against average of 1.89. He has racked up 325 saves. Northland is just 2-9 on the season and has dropped four of its last five. Northland has only scored 26 goals and has given up 67. Concordia, which has 29 goals and has allowed only 20, should be effective and get the job done both nights. Concordia 5-2, 6-2.

WIAC

Friday, Dec. 13

Lawrence at Wisconsin-Superior

Superior has been up and down lately, going 2-2-1 in its last five and it needs to take advantage of this home game on Friday night. Superior has to be able to rely on its goaltending duo of Drew Strandberg and Dayn Belfour. The two have combined for 245 saves. Pat Dalbec has to play well, too. He has five goals and four assists and Superior is usually successful when he has a good game. Lawrence has picked up steam, winning its last two, including a 5-4 win over nationally-ranked St. Norbert. I’ll give Superior the edge at home in a game that could go either way. Superior 4-3.

Wisconsin Eau-Claire at Milwaukee School of Engineering

Eau Claire needs to get back on track badly. The defending national champions have lost three of their last five games during a rugged stretch of their schedule and the key to success is going to be getting on a roll offensively. Jon Waggoner and Joe Krause lead the Blugolds with five and four goals, respectively. Those need to play well for Eau Claire to break out of its funk offensively. Eau Claire has seven goals in its last five games. It has 30 goals on the year and has given up 24. Milwaukee School of Engineering is 0-7 at home and has been shut out five times this season. If the Blugolds can attack early and score a couple of early goals, they should be fine against an opponent that has scored only 11 goals and has given up 33. Eau Claire 5-1.

Saturday, Dec. 14

Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Lawrence

I think the Blugolds have the edge on defense and a strong performance by Tyler Green should help Eau Claire nail down this win. Green has a goals-against average of 3.18 and has made 163 saves on the year. Eau Claire 4-2.

Wisconsin-Superior at Finlandia

If you are going on what the numbers look like on paper, this should be a win for Superior. Finlandia is 0-10 on the season and has managed to score only 13 goals while giving up 52. Superior, which has scored 29 goals and has given up 31, is too good on both ends of the ice to not win this game. Superior 7-2.

Weekend shows upsets, consistency, drama

UWSP Ladd sized Weekend shows upsets, consistency, drama

Wisconsin-Stevens Point junior Garrett Ladd helped the Pointers to a big win over Wisconsin-Eau Claire over the weekend (photo: Jack McLaughlin).

The last weekend for many teams entering the semester break saw some great action and still a few more upsets.

Here is a quick recap of some of the key conference action:

ECAC East

League-leading Norwich swept a pair of games at home over Skidmore and cross-state rival Castleton to maintain a slim lead in the conference standings. Chris Duszynski’s second hat trick of the season provided the offensive spark in Saturday’s 6-2 win against the Spartans.

Babson split a pair of games this weekend, stumbling on Saturday against the University of New England, which posted its second conference win by a 3-1 score on home ice. Colby Drost led the way for the Nor’easters, stopping 41 of 42 shots in the win.

Massachusetts-Boston continued its strong play in December by sweeping both games this weekend and moving up to fourth in the standings with games in hand on all the teams above them. After winning at UNE by a convincing 6-1 score, the Beacons won at Southern Maine for the first time in coach Peter Belisle’s tenure by a 3-2 score. Michael Kuhn’s two second-period goals erased a 2-1 deficit and carried the Beacons to the weekend road sweep.

ECAC Northeast

League-leading Salve Regina came back from a 4-0 deficit in the second period against Neumann and forced overtime with a late third-period goal by Marc Biggs before losing in overtime to the Knights, who finished with four power-play goals on six chances for the game.

The overtime loss clearly must have stung the Seahawks as they fell to nationally-ranked Utica on Saturday by a 5-1 score, making their non-conference record 2-4-0 this season.

ECAC West

Neumann followed up its Friday win with a solid 8-4 win over Morrisville where eight players had at least two points and goalie Ben Curley remained unbeaten at 3-0-1 so far this season.

Both Hobart and Manhattanville faced off against NESCAC opponents without much success as Wesleyan beat the Statesmen by a 6-2 score and Trinity, led by John Hawkrigg’s hat trick and Sean Orlando’s four points beat the Valiants by a 6-3 score.

MASCAC

Salem State and Plymouth State helped themselves in the standings with wins over Worcester State and Westfield State. respectively. Ian McGilvrey posted four assists for the Panthers in their win, while two goals apiece from Alex Minter and John Needham led the Vikings, who outshot the Lancers by a 44-13 margin.

MIAC

Gustavus Adolphus won both games against St. Olaf over the weekend. Friday’s 3-1 win was a hard-fought battle where the Gusties made two first-period goals stand up for the win and an empty-net goal by Adam Smyth supplying the final difference. Saturday’s 2-2 regulation and overtime tie was decided on a shootout won by the Gusties 1-0 on a goal by Gustav Bengtson.

NCHA

Adrian moved to the top of the standings with a 6-0 win at Marian. Justin Basso scored just 90 seconds into the game on the way to posting three points for the Bulldogs, who outshot Marian by a 36-13 margin.

St. Norbert was not so fortunate on Saturday night hosting Lawrence. The home team took a 4-1 lead early in the third period only to watch the visitors score four unanswered goals, including the game-winner with just 22 seconds remaining in regulation. Lawrence won 5-4 and moved to 3-5-0 in conference play.

NESCAC

With a tie and a win this weekend, Williams moved atop the league standings with Saturday’s 1-0 shutout at Amherst. Goalie Sean Dougherty outdueled the Lord Jeffs’ Dave Cunningham and Matt Doyle’s third-period goal stood up as the game-winner.

Elsewhere, Tufts and Connecticut College both earned their first wins in league play on the road in Maine on Friday night. Tufts beat Colby 5-2, while the Camels rallied from behind to take a 3-2 win in overtime at Bowdoin. Senior Keith Veronesi scored the game-winner less than a minute into the extra session after Joe Giordano tied it with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.

SUNYAC

In what is always a premium matchup in conference play, league-leading Plattsburgh skated away with a 3-3 tie at Oswego. The game saw both teams surrender one-goal leads and goalie Matt Zawadzki made 35 saves for the Lakers, who tied the game on Mike Wills’ first goal of the season just under two minutes after Plattsburgh had taken a one-goal lead early in the third period.

WIAC

Wisconsin-Stevens Point opened conference play against the defending national champions from Eau Claire and used two third-period goals by Garrett Ladd to open up a tight 2-1 game and provide the visitors with a 4-1 win. Brandon Jaeger moved to 8-0-0 on the season, posting 28 saves in the win.

Pickin’ through the weekend

Brockport cele sized Pickin through the weekend

Will Brockport be celebrating this weekend? (photo: Dan Hickling).

Let’s get ‘er goin,’ gang!

What does our panel of Division III men’s experts see happening this weekend?

ECAC East – Tim Costello

Last week’s picks finished at 3-1-1 (.700), which brings this season total to a very good 13-4-3 (.725).

There is just one more weekend for most teams before the semester break and conference games and points still mean a lot in December.

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Dec. 6

Castleton @ St. Michael’s

The Spartans certainly shouldn’t get caught looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup with their other Vermont rival, Norwich. Still looking for consistency and this trip to Winooski may be just what Steve Moffatt’s team needs to get some positive momentum going for the weekend. Castleton 4-2.

St. Anselm @ New England College

This travel partner game always seems to close out the first half for these teams in conference play. While the Pilgrims are off to the better start, anything can happen between these two teams and usually does. Home team won’t let two points get away in this one. New England College 4-3.

Skidmore @ Norwich

The first loss of the season to Wisconsin-Superior, and by shutout no less, is enough motivation to get the offense cranked up against Skidmore. This game could easily go over to the home team, but Matic Martinsek has quietly been very good for Norwich and he is the difference-maker in this one. Norwich 4-3.

Saturday, Dec. 7

Massachusetts-Boston @ Southern Maine

The Beacons, under coach Peter Belisle, have never won at Southern Maine during his tenure at UMB. Last weekend’s PAL Cup championship showed some positive signs for the Beacons and back-to-back weekend sweeps would carry some strong positive reinforcement about effort and results to close out the first half. Massachusetts-Boston 5-3.

Babson @ University of New England

The Beavers have been on a roll other than last weekend’s hiccup at Williams. No worries as Babson quickly refocuses in conference play and continues to lead the way at the top of the standings. Just too much of everything for the game Nor’easters. Babson 4-1.

Points in December means as much as any other time so no reason to take any opponent lightly – drop the puck!

ECAC Northeast – Nathan Fournier

Friday, Dec. 6

Salve Regina at Neumann

Salve starts the meat of its nonconference schedule at Neumann. This should be a wide-open game with both teams knowing how to put the puck into the net. Salve wants to make some noise out of conference and a win over Neumann would help their cause. I think the Seahawks pick themselves up from two losses this past weekend with a 7-4 win.

Canton at Western New England

The Golden Bears will be well-rested having nine days off after their win over Manahattanville on Nov. 26. They get a Kangaroos’ team that has been struggling. I don’t see Western New England having much issue and I see them winning 6-1.

Saturday, Dec. 7

Canton at Becker

Becker is coming off back-to-back losses over the weekend and they look to enter the semester break on a high note. This game could serve as a momentum booster heading into the second half. Their offense has been struggling along. The defense also has been struggling with a 6-0 loss to Assumption. I have them winning, though, 6-3.

Suffolk at Franklin Piece

The Rams are coming off a tough weekend in Maine losing to Colby and Bowdoin. They will need to crack down on taking undisciplined penalties that haunted them in their game against Colby on Sunday. They go on the road once again to face a struggling Franklin Pierce squad. It will be a tough, hard-fought game and I think Suffolk comes out on top 4-2. A win on the road is needed for the Rams.

Stonehill at Johnson and Wales

The Wildcats are coming off a split from last weekend and have a Stonehill team that knows how to win on the road coming in. Stonehill has been putting puck into the net a lot lately, but Johnson and Wales has been stingy on defense. It will be a tight game with Johnson and Wales winning 4-3.

Salve Regina at Utica

The Seahawks will be going into hostile territory on the second night of a back-to-back. It will be good experience for the Seahawks as they continue to build their program. They will need their best effort on the season to steal a win. I think the Pioneers will be to tough to handle for Salve Regina as Utica rolls 7-2.

Southern New Hampshire at Western New England

This should be a very good matchup. The Penmen have played very well on the road this season, but are coming off two losses last weekend and will be hungry. Despite their recent struggles, they still have a strong power play and a good penalty kill. I think Southern New Hampshire wins a 5-4 goalfest.

Tuesday, Dec. 10

Wentworth at Stonehill

The Leopards have been struggling to find the back of the net and Stonehill isn’t a team you want to face when you get goals. With two games remaining before they head to break, two points are almost a must. I think they have a potential to steal a game and I think they will in a 3-2 victory.

Wednesday, Dec. 11

Franklin Pierce at Nichols

The Bison wrap up the first half with Franklin Pierce. On paper, Nichols has the advantage, but it’s certainly a trap game. Alex Larson has also played in every game but one through the first nine contests. You could see him getting the night off and have Patrick Salkind rebound from his only start of the season against Suffolk. I think Franklin Pierce gives Nichols a scare, but the Bison hold on for a 4-2 win.

ECAC West – Dan Hickling

Saturday, Dec. 7

Salve Regina (6-3-0) @ No. 11 Utica (7-2-1) – Utica 4, Salve 3

Still smarting from last week’s ambush by Morrisville, the Pioneers will take it out on another nonconference foe.

Sunday, Dec. 8

Hobart (2-2-4) @ New England College (6-2-0) – Hobart 4, NEC 2

Are, as Bill Parcells used to say, you are what your record says you are? The Statesmen have a chance to prove they are better than just a two-win team.

MASCAC – Nathan Fournier

Saturday, Dec. 7

Fitchburg State at Massachusetts-Dartmouth

Both teams are coming off two losses over the Thanksgiving weekend. The Corsairs have been playing teams tough so far, but aren’t getting the desired results. Fitchburg State has been floating around .500 in conference, but hasn’t found a way to win on the road. I believe UMass-Dartmouth will find a way to hold onto a lead in a 3-2 victory.

Westfield State at Plymouth State

The Owls of Westfield State have played better in conference than out of conference. They also have been putting pucks in the net a lot more in MASCAC play, scoring a goal more per game. Plymouth State has been playing better defensively in conference. It will be a battle, but Plymouth State will take care of business on the road.

Worcester State at Salem State

Both teams have struggled on the man-advantage so far this season, but both have good penalty kills. Worcester State is still looking for that first MASCAC win of the season, while Salem State has played well at home. I believe the Vikings bring more to the table all-around and will skate away with a 5-2 victory.

Wednesday, Dec. 11

Framingham State at Assumption

Framingham State ends the first half of the year in a nonconference game. They have played some decent hockey so far this season and look to carry the momentum into the break. The Rams will need to look to work on their special teams. Assumption, on the other hand, has struggled this year, but is a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Framingham wins this one in a 5-3 game.

Westfield State at Stonehill

This has the potential to be an offensive showdown. With it being an out-of-conference game, Westfield will want to get a win on the board outside of MASCAC. It will be good heading into the break for the Owls. This will be Stonehill’s third MASCAC opponent of the season. Westfield pulls it out in a 6-5 contest.

MIAC/WIAC – Brian Lester

I’m not sure if I’m a genius or just lucky.

I guess we could say it’s a little bit of both because heading into this week’s picks, I am 25-2 on the year. If I keep that run of success up, I’m planning a trip to Vegas to cash in on my luck, although by mentioning how well I’ve started, I probably just cursed myself for the rest of the season.

Conference play is in full swing for both MIAC teams and WIAC teams. So without further delay, here are my picks for the weekend games.

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St. Thomas at Concordia (Minn.)

St. Thomas is atop the conference with a 3-0-1 mark and they are two points ahead of Concordia in the standings. The Cobbers are 3-1 on the year. The Tommies will be challenged playing on the road, especially since they have been off since Nov. 23. But if Drew Fielding continues to play at the level he has, fashioning a 1.36 goals against average through eight games, St. Thomas is poised to get at least one game out of this series. Concordia has been on top of its game offensively, scoring 25 goals on the year, and it hasn’t been bad on defense either, allowing just 14. The Cobbers have also been off since Nov. 23 and feature a solid goalie as well in Chris Neamontis (1.75 GAA). Goals will be few and far between in this series and I’m expecting a split. St. Thomas 2-0 (Friday); Concordia 2-1 (Saturday)

St. John’s vs. Augsburg

The Johnnies and Auggies play a home-and home this weekend and St. John’s will start off playing on the road. The Johnnies are 2-2 in the league and are looking to gain ground in the conference. Tyson Fulton will be looked upon to step up as he has scored a team-best four goals. The Johnnies have 21 goals as a team. With Saxton Soley in goal, St. John’s always has a chance to thrive. Soley has made 132 saves and I expect him to have a solid performance this weekend. Augsburg has yet to lose at home and is 1-0-1 in league play. It has won five consecutive games. Ben McClellan and Nicholas Widing have combined for 12 goals. If those two play well, Augsburg gets at least one in this series. Augsburg 3-1 (Friday); St. John’s 4-2 (Saturday).

Gustavus Adolphus vs. St. Olaf

This is a big weekend for the Gusties, who are currently tied for second with a 3-1 mark. A weekend sweep would be huge, but to get it, it needs to continue being as productive as it has been up to this point. Gustavus has struck for 35 goals and has won four of its last five. It hasn’t lost a game since Nov. 15. Corey Leivermann has scored seven goals and will need another good effort this week. John McLean, who has 188 saves, needs to step up as well for the Gusties, who open this series on the road. The Oles have won two consecutive games and will need to be strong defensively. They have allowed 34 goals. I could see this series being a sweep for Gustavus. Gustavus 4-2 and 3-1.

WIAC

Friday, Dec. 6

Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Wisconsin-Eau Claire

It’s the biggest matchup of the weekend as the two nationally-ranked opponents square off in an early-season showdown. Stevens Point is one of the hottest teams in the nation at the moment, winning eight consecutive games to start the year. The Blugolds, the defending national champions, are 5-2, losing twice to St. Norbert. The Pointers have been explosive, ringing up 50 goals, and opponents have scored only 11. Eau Claire does have the luxury of playing at home, but I’m not sure if it will be able to cool off Stevens Point. This game should go down to the wire. Stevens Point 2-1.

Wisconsin-Superior at Wisconsin-River Falls

Superior is coming off a huge win over nationally-ranked Norwich in New York and momentum seems to be on its side. The Yellow Jackets have been balanced offensively and it has two goalies more than capable of getting the job done in Drew Strandberg and Dayn Belfour. If the Yellow Jackets can play well on defense, they will be in good shape against the Falcons. River Falls is coming off two consecutive wins and this is an opportunity to for the Falcons to make an early statement. River Falls needs Scott Lewan to be strong in goal. He has made 99 saves on the year. While this one could go either way, the edge goes to Superior, 4-2.

Saturday, Dec. 7

Wisconsin-Stout at Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Stout is going to have a hard time winning this game, especially on the road. It has dropped five consecutive games and is 0-3 on the road this season. The Blue Devils, who have scored 21 goals on the year, don’t have the offensive firepower to hang with the Pointers. Stevens Point 5-1.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Wisconsin-Superior

This should be a bounce-back game for the Blugolds. I don’t expect a win to come easy, though, and both teams will challenge each other from start to finish. But I can’t see Eau Claire losing two in the same weekend. The edge goes to the defending champs. Eau Claire, 3-2.

NCHA – Katie Carito

So far, picking only conference games had bode well for me as right now, I’m 9-2-0. With a weekend full of conference series ahead, I’m sure that will change. This weekend should serve as a good shake-up in the standings.

St. Norbert versus Lawrence

St. Norbert (9-1-0, 6-0-0) suffered their first loss of the season over the weekend in a nonconference game again St. Scholastica. On Nov. 27, the Green Knights beat Wisconsin-Eau Claire 8-2. Lawrence (2-5-1, 2-4-0) has yet to get on a roll this season, having a win, tie and loss in their last three games. I think St. Norbert will bounce back from their loss and take the sweep in the home-and-home series. St. Norbert 4-1, 3-1

Adrian at Marian

Adrian (9-0-0, 6-0-0) remains the lone perfect team to date in the conference. They were 2:40 away from a loss in Sunday’s game against non-conference Nazareth, but Michael Hoy’s power-play goal forced overtime and Dustin Hebebrand notched the game-winning goal to keep the Bulldogs’ streak alive. Marian (4-7-0, 3-3-0) is coming into the weekend on a three-game losing streak, most recently dropping two close games (4-3, 3-2) at the NCHA/MIAC Thanksgiving Showdown. I have a feeling the Bulldogs are going to enter 2014 without a loss. Adrian 5-2, 3-2

Lake Forest at St. Scholastica

The Foresters (5-4-0, 4-2-0) lost two games against nonconference St. Mary’s with matching 2-1 scores both nights. Lake Forest sits at fourth in the standings with eight points, right behind St. Scholastica, who is currently third with 10 points. The Saints (6-1-2, 4-0-2) played a nonconference game and downed St. Norbert 4-2. They have only suffered one loss this season, to Wisconsin-Superior. I think these teams will split the weekend. Lake Forest 2-1, St. Scholastica 3-2

Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia

Finlandia (0-8-0, 0-6-0) remains winless on the season, most recently getting swept by Lake Forest on Nov. 22-23. Concordia (3-4-3, 2-2-2) snapped a four-game losing streak on Nov. 29 with a 5-5 tie against nonconference Bethel, before winning 4-2 the next night. I like the way Concordia’s young team has been performing. Concordia 2-1, 5-3

Milwaukee School of Engineering at Northland

I’m not sure how to explain MSOE’s season so far, but the runner-up for the 2012-13 MCHA regular-season title has yet to win a game this season. The Raiders (0-8-0, 0-6-0) dropped two games against Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Wisconsin-River Falls two weekends ago. Northland (1-8-0, 1-5-0) most recently lost a nonconference series against Augsburg. I’m going with a split for these teams. Northland 3-2, MSOE 2-1

NESCAC – Tim Costello

I think I might be getting the hang of this prediction thing as I had a really good week at 4-0-1 (.900), which brings the season total to 12-1-2 (.867).

Here are the picks on what is the final weekend of play this year for most teams:

Friday, Dec. 6

Middlebury @ Amherst

A battle for first place and the big question may be who starts in goal for the Panthers following last weekend’s loss to Plattsburgh in the Primelink final. No question who is between the pipes for Amherst and Dave Cunningham makes enough saves for the win at home. Amherst 4-3.

Williams @ Hamilton

The Ephs can play with anyone, as evidenced by last week’s quality win against previously-unbeaten Babson. Bill Kangas’ team won’t be looking ahead to their rival game at Amherst on Saturday and take care of business, albeit in a close one. Williams 3-2.

Saturday, Dec. 7

Tufts @ Bowdoin

The Polar Bears got the offense on track in the past week and Tufts is a welcome conference foe despite the Jumbos’ win on the road at Castleton. Too much offense and speed for Tufts to keep up at “The Sid.” Bowdoin 5-2.

Hobart @ Wesleyan

The Cardinals have proven they can score, but Hobart plays things very tight and this one probably sees an empty-net goal as the ultimate decider in a close contest. Hobart 3-1.

Trinity @ Manhattanville

The Bantams are back on the road and looking to rebound after a tough 2-0 loss against Stonehill this week. Back to basics for Matt Greason’s team and it all works out against a traditionally tough ECAC West opponent. Trinity 3-1.

Finals for the semester are certainly upon the players but not before some critical games this weekend – drop the puck!

SUNYAC – Dan Hickling

Friday, Dec. 6

Brockport (2-7-1, 1-3-0) @ Fredonia (2-5-1, 2-2-1) – Fredonia 4, Brockport 1

Both teams are trying to figure themselves out before the break. The guess here is that Fredonia will learn a few more things about itself.

Saturday, Dec. 7

Potsdam (2-6-0, 0-5-0) @ Cortland (3-4-3, 3-3-1) – Cortland 5, Potsdam 3

At this stage of the season, the Red Dragons are closer to joining the middle of the SUNYAC pack than Potsdam is.

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