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Predicting the weekend across the country

UWEC2 sized Predicting the weekend across the country

Can Wisconsin-Eau Claire keep winning? WIAC columnist Brian Lester thinks so (photo: Wisconsin-Eau Claire Athletics).

The USCHO.com Division III gang is back at it this week with their predictions on this weekend’s games.

ECAC EAST – Tim Costello

Back-to-back weeks at 4-1-0 (.800) bring the season total to 8-2-0 (.800), which is a pretty good start to the prognostications for the conference this season. The schedule heats up this week, so the challenge to be accurate only gets harder.

Here are my picks for the upcoming weekend:

Friday, Nov. 22

St. Anselm @ Norwich

The Cadets have had great success against the Hawks particularly at home and this year is not likely to be different in the regard. This one sees too much offense for the Hawks to handle and another win for Norwich. Norwich 4-1.

University of New England @ Southern Maine

This rivalry of travel partners is on the rise and while the Huskies have had the early advantage in the series, the Nor’easters are out to prove they are up to the task on the opponent’s rink. It’s close, but a late goal swings it to the visitors. UNE 3-2.

Massachusetts-Boston @ Castleton

Both teams are off to good starts in the season and are looking to build on that success. Home ice and a raucous crowd will help the home team eke out a tight one where special teams are the difference. Castleton 3-2.

Saturday, Nov. 22

St. Anselm @ St. Michael’s

One game that counts in two leagues – now that is unusual, but all the more important to theses two D-II schools fighting for seeding in the NE-10, as well as looking to move up in the ECAC East. Neither team has started out great, but this might be the jump start the Hawks need to get in the win column. St. Anselm 5-4.

Babson @ Castleton

Sometimes you have to grit one out with a lot of team defense and goals that aren’t going to make anyone’s highlight reel but get the job done. The Beavers may be better at that than anyone and it is an effort level that is needed to take down the Spartans at home. Babson 2-1.

Some really key matchups this weekend that will help separate the contenders in the early season schedule – drop the puck!

ECAC NORTHEAST – Nathan Fournier

Saturday, Nov. 23

Suffolk at Becker

This should be an interesting matchup. Suffolk has confidence after a win against Western New England last Saturday. Becker has been struggling to score some goals so far. It should be a very competitive game and I will take Becker in this matchup 3-2.

Nichols at Johnson and Wales

A very intriguing game between a team of veterans in Nichols and a young team in Johnson and Wales. Nichols, so far, has lived up to the expectations they had going into the season, while Johnson and Wales is also off to a strong start with their freshmen and sophomores. Both teams have excellent goaltenders and while Joey Ballmer has USHL experience and off to a great start with Johnson and Wales, I will take Nichols in a 4-1 victory.

Curry at Wentworth

If both teams want to turn things around, they will need to get the power play going. Overall, both offenses have been struggling. Curry defense has been strong and to keep the goals down. I think Wenworth is going to get it together sooner rather than later and take this contest at home 4-3.

Salve Regina at Western New England

This will be an offensive showcase and both defenses will be on their heels all game long. Who will win this game will come down who can can score on the power play. Both team have solid penalty kills and if one team can score on the power play, I think they will be the victor because both teams have shown to score at even strength. I will take Salve Regina on the road with a 6-4 victory.

Tuesday, Nov. 26

Johnson and Wales at Assumption

I think Johnson and Wales will come out on top in this contest. They have been battle-tested this season and their top line has been lights-out this season. Assumption has been struggling to score goals so far this season. Johnson and Wales 5-2.

Southern New Hampshire at Suffolk

This is a team Suffolk doesn’t want to see coming into town. Southern New Hampshire has been very good on the road, winning their first three games on the road this season. They have outstanding offensive firepower with four players with eight or more points so far. I think the Penmen will be too much to handle for the Rams in a 6-3 victory.

Becker at Tufts

Becker has to like its chances going into Tufts with the Jumbos playing not only their third game of the season, but third in five days. That will definitely play in Becker’s advantage as they will have only played one game the previous weekend. I think Becker comes away with the 5-2 win in this midweek contest.

Manhattanville at Western New England

This a very good nonconference matchup. Both teams are very skilled, which will make for a competitive game. Both teams are defensively sound, but Western New England has the advantage offensively. I will take Western New England in a 4-2 victory.

ECAC WEST – Dan Hickling

Friday, Nov. 22

Elmira (2-2-0, 3-4-0) @ Nazareth (0-4-1, 1-4-1) – Nazareth 4 Elmira 3
A tough team on their home ice, Nazareth is seeking its first league victory of the year. Elmira is looking to move up in the standings. The guess here is that the Golden Flyers will find a way to eke this one out.

Saturday, Nov. 23

No. 7 Utica (4-1-0, 5-1-0) @ No. 14 Hobart (2-0-2, 2-1-3) – Utica 5 Hobart 4
The back end of a two-game set between the two at Hobart. It would be a shock if one team swept both games, but no surprise to see the Pioneers avenge their last second loss to Hobart at home a few weeks back.

MASCAC – Nathan Fournier

Saturday, Nov. 23

Framingham State at Fitchberg State

The Rams of Framingham State have been a surprise so far, winning their first three MASCAC games of the season. They aren’t relying on one guy either, as only five players who have appeared in a game this season haven’t put up a point. They are winning the high-scoring contests. The Falcons also have put some goals on the board early on this season. It will be a high-scoring contest and I will take the Falcons in a 6-3 game.

Massachusetts-Dartmouth at Westfield State

This is probably the game of the night in the MASCAC. Both teams have high hopes of championship aspirations this season. UMass-Dartmouth has been struggling defensively so far, allowing around four goals per game and the penalty killing has been sub par. Westfield has had their struggles so far to this season, but seemed to turn things around last Saturday. I will take Westfield at home in a 7-4 game.

Plymouth State at Worcester State.

It was a storybook start for Worcester State, winning their first three nonconference games, but MASCAC hasn’t been as nice to them. They have dropped their first two games in conference and I think Plymouth State will be ready to hand them another loss. They have had a slow start, but I think this is a game they are looking to turn things around. The Panthers win 4-1.

Tuesday, Nov. 26

New England College at Framingham State

This is a very good nonconference contest for Framingham State to see where they stand. The Pilgrims of New England College are off to a strong start and have gotten contributions from all the lines do far. The Rams might not have many chances offensively to score as New England College has allowed under two goals per game so far. With Thanksgiving just two days away, I will take the Pilgrims 5-1.

Babson at UMass-Dartmouth

At the start of the season, this was one of the games circled on the calendar on the East Coast. Babson has been as advertised so far, both offensively and defensively. It will be interesting how well the Corsairs do this upcoming week with two other non-onference games right after Thanksgiving against Colby and Bowdoin. Until UMass- Dartmouth puts a couple of games together, I will take Babson 4-2.

Salem State at Southern Maine

The Vikings will travel up to Gorham, Maine, and take on the Huskies of the Southern Maine. This should be an even matchup. The Viking will have the advantage offensively, scoring nearly 3.50 goals a game compared to USM’s 2.50. The Vikings aren’t afraid to put up shots either, which will create rebounds and scoring chances. I will take Salem State in a 4-3 win.

Franklin Pierce at Westfield State

It has been a tough start for Franklin Pierce so far this season. The Ravens have had trouble finding the back of the net and the penalty kill has already allowed six goals so far. That’s not a very good combination in facing an offensive team like Westfield State, who has shown they can put the puck in the net early and often. I will take Westfield State in a 7-1 victory.

MIAC/WIAC – Brian Lester

It’s time for another week of hockey picks.

Conference play begins to pick up in the MIAC and this is the time of the year where teams start establshing themselves as contender or see their hopes to contend in the conference begin to fade away.

In the WIAC, several teams will be on the road, including Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which has a pivotal non-conference battle with St. Norbert in what will be a statement game for both teams.

So once again, it’s time to test my intelligence and make some predicitions.

Friday, Nov. 22 – MIAC

Bethel at Concordia (Minn.)

Bethel heads into its matchup with Concordia looking for its first win of the year. The Royals have lost thre consecutive games and have managed only 10 goals while allowing 18. Colin Mayer and Travis Payne have two goals apiece and will need to play well for the Royals to have a shot at winning this series opener. Concordia has been very productive on offense, racking up 17 goals, and it has allowed only 10 goals. If the Cobbers get a solid effort from Chris Neamonitis (1.67 goals-against average, 214 saves) and are as effective offensively as they have been during their 4-2 start, they will prevail. Concordia, 4-1.

Hamline at Gustavus Adolphus

The Pipers are another MIAC team searching for their first victory of the season. They have forged one tie in six games and have lost two in a row. Their problem has been they have allowed far too many goals, giving up 32 on the year. John Sellie-Hanson has started one game and if he starts again, he will need to be at his best for Hamline to have a shot. The Pipers need to be solid all around on defense to be successful. Gustavus is 3-3 and has an opportunity to pick up momentum in the conference. The Gusties have tallied 16 goals, including four by Corey Leivermann, and if Gustavus can execute on offense, they will be tough to beat in this one. Gustavus, 6-2.

St. John’s at St. Mary’s

The defending conference champion Johnnies will be tested in this road series with the Cardinals, but they have an opportunity to send a message early that they are the team to beat in the league. Josh Gross, Kevin Becker and Tyson Fulton have scored two goals apiece and the Johnnies have the balance to be successful against the Cardinals. Throw in the fact that Saxton Soley has made 79 saves and allows just two goals per game, and the Johnnies are going to be tough to top. St. Mary’s has won twice in six games and has struggled to keep the puck out of the net. The Cardinals have allowed 20 goals while tallying 13 on the year. Bob Marx has scored three goals to pace the Cardinals offensively, but if St. Mary’s is going to win this one, Christian Gaffy needs to have a strong showing in goal. He has given up 14 goals on the year and has tallied 155 saves. He has a goals-against average of 2.85. St. John’s 4-2.

Saturday, Nov. 23 – MIAC

St. John’s at St. Mary’s

The Johnnies are determined to win another league title and closing out this series with a win would be a huge step forward in that quest to be champions. But the Cardinals are at home and I can see them taking one in this series. St. Mary’s 3-2.

Bethel at Concordia (Minn.)

The Cobbers are too good on offense and are at home as well. They will prevail for the second straight night. Concordia, 4-3.

St. Olaf at St. Thomas

St. Olaf has won only one game and is winless in three road games. Playing at St. Thomas will be a challenge. The Oles have managed to score only 12 goals and have given up 26. They will need to be at their best on defense to get out of town with a win. The Tommies have only one loss and lead the league in goals allowed (nine). Considering how tough they are on defense, especially with Drew Fielding (1.50 goals-against average, 154 saves) in goal, don’t expect St. Thomas to come up short in this win. St. Thomas 5-1.

Friday, Nov. 22 – WIAC

Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Milwaukee School of Engineering

The Pointers have yet to lose in six games and have racked up 42 goals on the season. Their ability to step up on the offensive end will make them tough to deal with. The Pointers have 11 players with two or more goals, including Garrett Ladd, who has scored seven to go along with six assists. If the Pointers play up to their potential offensively, they will be fine against the winless Raiders. Stevens Point, 5-2.

Wisconsin- Eau Claire at St. Norbert

The defending national champions play a key road game agianst St. Norbert, and this one, a battle of the top two teams in the nation, could go a long way in helping the Blugolds build momentum for another title run at the end of the year. They have given up only five goals and Tyler Green has been tough in goal, allowing only four goals. If Eau Claire plays well on defense, it will be in good shape. The Green Knights are unbeaten as well and have given up just eight goals. The team that can play the best defensively will prevail. Eau Claire, 2-1.

Wisconsin River Falls at Concordia (Wis.)

The Falcons have won two of their first four games, but have managed to only score 13 goals. But they have given up just nine goals and will be looking for Willie Hess (five goals) to step up in order to help lead the way to a win. Concordia has lost two in a row, but has tallied 19 goals on the year. It has allowed 23. If the Falcons can get on track early, it should be in a position to steal this win. River Falls, 4-3.

Saturday, Nov. 23 – WIAC

River Falls at Milwaukee School of Engineering

The Falcons will have an opportunity to cap their weekend with a win on the road over a Raiders team that has yet to win. Again, the key for the Falcons is to get off to a good start. Scott Lewan (2.28 goals-against average, 69 saves) will need a strong game in goal as well, especially with this being on the road.

Wisconsin-Stout at St. Norbert

Stout faces one of its toughest challenges of the year against the Green Knights. Stout has lost three in a row and has scored two or more goals only twice. It will need its best all-around effort of the year to pull this game off. The Green Knights are just too strong, though, and will prevail. St. Norbert, 5-2.

Eau Claire at Concordia (Wis.)

The Blugolds have enough talent offensively to overwhelm Concordia. Not only are they the better team on offense, but their defense will be tough to crack. Eau Claire, 5-1.

NCHA – Katie Carito

I’m going to keep my picks this season to conference games and so far on the season, I am 7-2-0 – not a bad way to start. There is only one conference series on the docket this weekend.

Finlandia at Lake Forest

Last weekend, the Foresters (3-2-0) were swept by St. Norbert, marking their first two losses of the season. Finlandia (0-6-0) was swept by St. Scholastica. Finlandia joins MSOE as the only team in the NCHA without a conference win. Finlandia sophomore goaltender Troy Chandler made a total of 78 saves on the weekend, which makes me think that their defense needs to step up this weekend. Lake Forest wins both, 3-2, 4-1

NESCAC – Tim Costello

Opening week, I went 4-0-1 (.900) on my picks, so not much room for improvement with some interesting games among some of the closest rivals.

Here are my picks heading into the weekend and second week of conference play:

Friday, Nov. 22

Middlebury @ Tufts

The Panthers came out of last week’s games with Bowdoin and Colby showing they can play it close and also open up the offense. Tufts should be worried about the potent Panther attack that is balanced across all lines. Middlebury 5-2.

Bowdoin @ Colby

Throw out the statistics in this 101st edition of the Maine hockey rivalry. Since both games now count in the standings, it’s a chance make a statement in the conference and on behalf of hockey alumni everywhere for your school. Polar Bears look to bounce back after tough outing at Williams. Bowdoin 4-3.

Williams @ Connecticut College

The Ephs are off to a fast start, including last Sunday’s 5-2 win over Bowdoin. The Camels certainly deserved some points out of their first weekend, but couldn’t get the puck bounce when they needed it most. Williams doesn’t beat itself and here won’t let the Camels do it either. Williams 3-1.

Saturday, Nov. 23

Trinity @ Amherst

The Lord Jeffs have a history of playing great at home and making things very difficult for the opposition to score goals. Trinity will get its chances, but Amherst takes advantage of a power play late and that is the difference in this contest. Amherst 3-2.

Wesleyan @ Hamilton

After missing game two last weekend, Keith Buehler is back in the lineup and that is not good news for Hamilton. Don’t know if the Vorel-Hartnett-Buehler line can keep scoring at this pace, but Wesleyan has enough depth elsewhere to pick up the slack. Wesleyan 4-1.

There’s lots of great action as teams still figure out all of the pieces coming together – drop the puck!

SUNYAC – Dan Hickling

Friday, Nov. 22

No. 8 Oswego (2-1-0, 3-1-0) @ No. 15 Geneseo (3-1-0, 4-2-0) – Geneseo 4, Oswego 2

A year ago, the Lakers went into Genny and administered a 10-1 beating. Not this time. Despite their national rankings, both teams have had a few early-season struggles and are seeking to find an indentity. On this night, the Ice Knights will find theirs.

Saturday, Nov. 23

No. 4 Plattsburgh (4-0-1, 4-0-1) @ Morrisville (1-4-1, 1-4-1) – Plattsburgh 5, Morrisville 1

The Mustangs are capable of giving any opponent a tough time, but do not have enough horses to upend the nation’s fourth-ranked team.

Conferences showing early leaders, but big games still forthcoming

Justin Basso sized Conferences showing early leaders, but big games still forthcoming

Adrian’s Justin Basso has the Bulldogs off to a perfect 6-0 start this season (photo: Adrian College Athletics).

The top six teams are still undefeated in the third week of play. Expect to see some shake-up in the polls from the seventh spot down as some teams didn’t make strong debut weekends.

There were no major upsets as teams are getting into the flow of the season, but there were some overtime thrillers recapped below:

ECAC EAST

Norwich and Babson remain undefeated on the season as Norwich (4-0-0) earned two wins against conference opponents Southern Maine and the University of New England. Norwich Cadet’s senior forward Chris Duszynski is currently leading the league in goals scored with seven goals scored. Two of his goals were scored in the 8-1 win over University of New England. Babson (4-0-0) had a single non-conference game where they beat Assumption 4-3.

ECAC NORTHEAST

It was a busy week of conference play for the league. The game’s started on Tuesday with at least one game being played each night except Friday. The week was highlighted by a 3-3 OT battle between first place Nichols and Becker. Nichols have a 3-0-1 record while Becker is sitting with a 0-4-1 overall record. Hawks sophomore Gregg Hussey made 40 saves while on the other end of the ice Bison sophomore Alex Larson made 36 saves.

ECAC WEST

Hobart (2-1-3) fought to one overtime loss and one overtime tie this weekend. Friday night’s game against nonconference Geneseo had a two goal output from the Statesmen. Geneseo was able to score the game-winning goal 4:53 into overtime. Saturday’s game against nonconference Brockport was tied 1-1 heading into overtime with neither team able to score with extra time. Hobart put 45 shots on net in the tied game.

MASCAC

In the first week of conference play Framingham has come out with an early lead in the standings going 3-0 this week and 3-1 overall, they remain the the only team who has not suffered a conference loss. Worcester St. has unable to win a conference game this week sitting at the bottom of the standings at 0-2, but are 3-2 overall. There was one overtime game with Salem State downing Plymouth 4-3.

MIAC

There were only two conference series in a slew of nonconference match-ups. Concordia-Minnesota traveled to Gustavus Adolphus where they split the series with matching 3-1 scores. St. Olaf and Saint John’s had a home-and-home series. Friday night’s contest had St. Olaf shutting out Saint John’s 2-0. Saturday night the Johnnies outscored the Oles 7-4 had a 2-1-3 scoring line from freshman forward Kevin Becker.

NCHA

Adrian and St. Norbert continue to roll through the season with matching 6-0-0 overall and conference records. The Bulldogs swept Concordia-Wisconsin, giving them their first losses of the season, with 7-0 and 3-1 scores. Junior forward Josh Ranalli leads the league with eight goals on the season, including three in Friday’s win.  St. Norbert swept Lake Forest, also giving the Foresters their first losses of the season. St. Norbert ouscored Lake forest 9-1 in Friday’s contest.

SUNYAC

Plattsburgh remains undefeated with a 4-0-1 record. On Saturday Plattsburg and Buffalo State ended in a 1-1 tie. Bengals goaltender Kevin Carr made 43 saves, including 14 in the first and third periods. In Friday’s 3-2 win over Potsdam Carr made 39 saves for a weekend total of 82 saves on the weekend.

WIAC

Conference play doesn’t start up until December, but Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Wisconsin-Eau Claire are clear frontrunners. The Pointers hold a 6-0 record while the 2013 national championship Blugolds are 4-0 on the season.

 

Predicting this weekend’s top contests – and then some

Our gang of Division III columnists picks this week’s top games in D-III.

ECAC East – Tim Costello

The heavyweights in the conference have come out as expected, but there have been some week one and week two surprises already. More surprises to come in week three?

Here are my picks for the upcoming weekend:

Friday, November 15

Skidmore @ New England College

The Pilgrims got a split last weekend playing against two of the conference’s best teams and come home to face a team that also split its opening games last weekend. The small confines in Henniker play to the advantage of the home team, but only by a goal. NEC 4-3.

Norwich @ Southern Maine

The Huskies have not scored a goal against the Cadets in over a season, but haven’t given up much to the potent Cadet offense either. Looks like more of the same in a game that Cadets’ coach Mike McShane considers a challenge for his team in the early-season schedule. Norwich 3-0.

St. Michael’s @ UNE

This game has favored the Purple Knights in the past, but a lot of the experience that led to those wins has graduated and the hosts actually are the more experienced roster. Always like to win at home, the atmosphere in Biddeford will help the Nor’easters get the two points. UNE 4-2.

Saturday, November 16

Assumption @ Babson

The Beavers are off to a great start with strong goaltending defense and timely scoring from a balanced attack. That does not bode well for the visitors from the Northeast-10, who find themselves on the short end of this nonconference match-up. Babson 4-1.

Castleton @ New England College

The Moffatt era has begin for Castleton and opened auspiciously on home ice last weekend. Seeing how the team plays it on the road is another milestone for the new coach and his team gets a passing grade in this close contest. Castleton 4-3.

The early season is all about finding the parts that work together and building that solid 60 minute game – drop the puck!

ECAC Northeast – Nathan Fournier

Saturday, Nov. 16

Johnson and Wales at Curry

Both teams are coming off a Thursday-night game. Johnson and Wales is coming off a big victory over last year’s ECAC Northeast champion Wentworth last weekend and have freshman Stefan Brucato off to a good start leading the team in scoring prior to Thursday’s game against Suffolk with a goal and four assists. Curry has played a tough schedule so far with nonconference games against No. 10-ranked Babson and a victory over Westfield State. This game should be a good contest with Johnson and Wales coming up on top with the 5-3 victory.

Wentworth at Nichols

Two of the premier teams in the conference go at it. Wentworth has played the most games in the conference so far and off to a rocky start. They have shown their depth in terms of scoring, but the wins just haven’t come yet. Nichols is off to a very good start with sophomores Tyler Beasley and Frank Butler leading the way offensively. This should be another good game, but until someone figueres out Nichols goaltender Alex Larson, I think the Bison keep on winning, this time by a 3-2 margin.

Becker at Salve Regina

It’s been a tough go so far for the Becker Hawks. With two loses to MASCAC opponents Fitchburg State and Worcester State where they combined to only score twice in the two games, they finally got the offense going in the 5-4 loss to Western New England on Saturday. On the other hand, the Seahawks have had no problem finding the back of the net to start the season. I think that trend continues in a 5-1 win over the Hawks.

Western New England at Suffolk

The Golden Bears are another team that has gotten to a fast start offensively this season. With most of their scoring back from last season, it was expected for them to have a fast start. They haven’t blown anyone out and Becker hung around against them last weekend in the 5-4 overtime loss. Suffolk has only played two games this season, earning a 3-1 victory over Assumption and dropped a 6-3 decision to Salve Regina. They will need to get the power play going – just a 1-for-15 start prior to Thursday’s game versus Johnson and Wales. Western New England pulls this one out 6-4.

Tuesday, Nov. 19

Curry at Salve Regina

Curry will face their second straight Rhode Island school in Salve Regina. It’s another test for a team who is trying to find a rhythm. At the same time, they could catch the Seahawks sleeping as it would be their second straight game against a team who finished at the bottom of last year’s standings. If the Colonels can split, it will be a confidence booster. With that said, I think the Seahawks win 3-1.

Wednesday, Nov. 20

Johnson and Wales at Becker

The Hawks will have their hands full with Johnson and Wales. Both teams have struggled on the man-advantage, scoring three goals through the first two weeks of the season. I think the key to this game is Becker’s penalty kill, which is also off to a cold start. If they can tighten things up at that end, they can keep things close. I will go with the 2-1 victory for Becker.

Nichols at Suffolk

The Bison have a midweek trap game of their own against Suffolk. Alex Larson will get a lot of credit on how this team is playing defensively, but some of the credit goes to the defense in front of him. They have killed off all 13 power-play chances through the the first two games of the season. While a perfect penalty kill streak is going to be broken at some point, they can’t be giving teams 6-7 power-play chances a game. Bison come away with a 4-2 win.

Thursday, Nov. 21

Wentworth at Western New England

This will be a very good game that will go either way. Western New England will want to make a statement to the league that they will be a team to be this season. On the other end, Wentworth wants to show why they won the conference last season. Both teams are averaging over 36 shots per game and this game will be an offensive show. Wentworth takes it 5-4.

ECAC West – Dan Hickling

Friday, Nov. 15

No. 9 Utica (2-1-0, 3-1-0) @ Manhattanville (2-1-0, 2-1-0) – Manhattanville 3, Utica 2

Plenty is expected out of Manhattanville this year and an early-season win over the nationally-ranked Pioneers will do lots to justify those opinions. Utica is looking to right itself after falling at home to No. 8 Hobart.

Nazareth (0-2-1, 1-2-1) @ Neumann (0-2-1, 0-2-1) – Neumann 2, Nazareth 1

Both teams are looking for their first conference win and both are playing better than their records indicate. Give the Knights the home-ice edge.

MASCAC – Nathan Fournier

Saturday, Nov. 16

Worcester State at Fitchburg State

A rivalry game and it should be a good one with Worcester State off a hot start. The junior class has been driving most of the production for the Lancers. The defense has also been stellar for Worcester State. Both teams have been solid on the penalty kill. I think Fitchburg State pulls off a tight defensive game, 2-1.

Salem State at Framingham State

If we go by last year’s record, you would say Salem State would win this game. Since both teams have played two games when they meet up, this game could go either way. Salem State will rely on their veterans, while the Rams of Framingham State will rely on their underclassman as much as their upperclassman. I will take the veteran group this time around 4-1.

Plymouth State at Massachusetts-Dartmouth

The game of the weekend in the MASCAC. It’s a match-up of the regular-season champions versus the conference champion. Both teams will be playing their third game of the week when the teams meet on Saturday, so expect some tired legs in this contest. Plymouth State should come out on top with a 5-2 victory.

Thursday, Nov. 21

Worcester State at Framingham State

The Lancers will look to make their mark in conference after a strong start in nonconference games. The Rams are no pushover, though they did grab a big conference victory over Westfield State on Tuesday. Both teams were in the basement last year in the MASCAC last year. I expect both teams will be hungry, but I think Worcester State takes it 4-3.

UMass-Dartmouth at Salem State

A midweek clash between two of the top teams in the conference. Both teams have very few seniors on the roster, but make no mistake about it, they are two very skilled teams. It will be an highly-competitive game. When you have two evenly-matched teams, I think home-ice advantage will be the deciding factor, so I will take Salem State with the 3-2 victory.

Fitchburg State at Westfield State

This is an intriguing game. Fitchburg State will be playing its second game on the road this season after starting the year with five homes games in their first six. No one expected the Owls to start the year on a four-game losing streak. I think Westfield State will get it together offensively and come away with a 6-3 victory.

MIAC/WIAC – Brian Lester

Another season of predicting games begins and since several teams in the MIAC play against teams from the WIAC, I’m going to be crossing over with my picks as I cover both leagues.

I’m no hockey guru and I certainly wouldn’t put any money down in Vegas based on my picks, but I hope to at least be fairly successful as picking winners week after week. It all begins with this week’s picks. Here we go.

Friday, Nov. 15

Wisconsin-Superior at St. Mary’s

The Cardinals are 1-3 overall and really need to find a way to win this game against Superior at home. St. Mary’s is led by Bobby Thompson, who has two goals, and the Cardinals will need balanced scoring to get this win. Superior has dropped its first two games and no one has scored more than a goal for the Yellow Jackets. It will be tough to win this on the road. St. Mary’s 3-2.

Wisconsin-Stout at Augusburg

The Auggies have yet to lose a game and being at home should help their cause in continuing that unbeaten trend. Augsburg has punched in 14 goals and has allowed only seven. If the Auggies can be effective on both ends of the ice as they have been lately, they’ll be poised for the victory. Kevin O’Donnell has been very good for Stout, scoring three goals and dishing out four assists. If he plays well, Stout has a good chance at the win. Augsburg 4-3.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Hamline

Hamline will have its hands full against the defending national champions and the best it can probably hope for is a competitive game. Playing hard and competing against the Blugolds from start to finish could serve the Pipers well going forward this season. Hamline has scored just eight goals and has allowed 22. The Blugolds are too good on both ends of the ice, especially on defense where they have given up just three goals. Eau Claire 5-1.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point at St. Thomas

The Tommies face a crucial home test against one of the better teams in the nation and this showdown between two of the best teams in Division III could be a big tone-setter for the season. The Tommies are 4-0 and are going to need a strong showing from goalie Drew Fielding (1.49 GAA) to nail down this victory. The Pointers, though, have been very tough offensively, including getting five goals from Garrett Ladd, and that offense might be too much to overcome. Stevens Point 5-4.

Saturday, Nov. 16

Stevens Point at St. Mary’s

The Cardinals will be tested big-time. Stevens Point, though, is a team on a mission and will come out on top. Stevens Point, 5-2.

Eau Claire at Bethel

The Royals have struggled early this season, losing two of their first three games,and have managed only seven goals while allowing 10. Eau Claire has too much firepower for the Royals to handle and will roll. Eau Claire 6-2.

Stout at St. Thomas

The Tommies have a chance to pick up another big nonconference win and as long as the offense and defense are clicking on all cylinders, they will get the job done. St. Thomas 4-2.

St. Olaf at St. John’s

The Johnnies will be playing their first conference home game and will be determined to come through with a big win as they continue their quest toward another league championship. The Oles have managed only six goals on the year during an 0-4 start and have given up 18. The Johnnies, behind the play of stellar goalie Saxton Soley and a balanced offensive attack, will likely be tested, but should be able to hold off St. Olaf for the win. St. John’s 6-3.

NCHA – Katie Carito

Concordia (Wis.) at Adrian

I really like the way both teams are playing so far this season. The youthful Falcons are taking the early part of the season to learn lessons and gain experience that will improve their team’s chemistry. The Bulldogs continue to be a force in the league. I think the Bulldogs will take both games. Adrian 3-2, 4-1

Lake Forest vs. St. Norbert

Both teams are undefeated in their first weekends of play. Lake Forest has 21 so far this season, while St. Norbert has 14. In this home-and-home series, I think each team will take a win on their home ice. St. Norbert 3-1, Lake Forest 4-3

Milwaukee School of Engineering vs. Marian

Marian is coming off a 6-2 win over Lawrence, which marks the Sabres’ first win of the season. MSOE has yet to tally a win. This is another home-and-home series that I’m taking the home team for the win. Marian 4-1, MSOE 4-1

Finlandia at St. Scholastica

Finlandia is winless with two losses to St. Norbert and two nonconference losses to Wisconsin-Stevens Point. St. Scholastica is coming off a series with two ties against Concordia. St. Scholastica also swept MSOE in the first weekend of play. St. Scholastica 2-1, 5-4

Lawrence at Northland

Northland is winless this season and Lawrence is sitting with a 1-3-0 record. Northland is struggling defensively as they have allowed 30 goals this season, the most of any NCHA team. I would like to see both teams get a win. Northland 3-2, Lawrence 2-1.

NESCAC – Tim Costello

It’s mid-November and finally, the NESCAC schools are playing someone other than themselves in intra-squad scrimmages.

Some interesting and potentially telling match-ups to open the season so get ready for some great action from the drop of the first puck on Friday night.

Here are my picks for the upcoming weekend and a Tuesday bonus game:

Friday, Nov. 15

Hamilton @ Amherst

This home-and-home series on opening weekend knocks off the travel partner series right away and also serves to get people quickly oriented to life at home and on the road. This game will be a close one and should prove that it is much better not to be on a bus for a long ride before you play. Amherst 4-3.

Tufts @ Wesleyan

The Cardinals have some firepower and Keith Buehler comes out showing that last year’s numbers were not an anomaly. The Jumbos have a lot of new pieces and are still figuring out how they all fit. Wesleyan 5-2.

Saturday, Nov. 16

Bowdoin @ Middlebury

The Polar Bears have a very young defensive group going against a potent Panther attack, while Middlebury will be looking for some improvement and consistency between the pipes. The difference is that either guy in the Bowdoin goal is the difference-maker in this game. Bowdoin 3-2.

Colby @ Williams

Both teams are retooling big pieces entering the season. The Mules are new on defense, while the Ephs have several new forwards. So what is the difference? Same as last year – Sean Dougherty and Williams pick up the win in a low scoring affair. Williams 2-1.

Tufts @ Trinity

The Bantams aren’t as strong offensively as Wesleyan, but Tufts finds the back end of the weekend more challenging in trying to score on Benjamin Coulthard and the Trinity defense. Trinity 4-2.

Tuesday, Nov. 19

Southern Maine @ Colby

It’s a quick turnaround for the Mules, who return home after a Sunday match-up at Middlebury. The weekday home opener is just what Blaise MacDonald’s team needs in picking up the win against their in-state rival. Colby 4-3.

The season is now officially underway – drop the puck!

SUNYAC – Dan Hickling

Friday, Nov. 15

Morrisville (1-3-0, 1-3-0) @ Cortland (1-2-0) – Morrisville 6, Cortland 5.

The first of a two-game set in Cortland. Both teams want to prove themselves better than their joint last-place preseason prediction. The teams will likely split the wins and Friday will be the Mustangs’ night.

Saturday, Nov. 16

No. 3 Plattsburgh (3-0-0, 3-0-0) @ Buffalo State (2-2-0, 2-2-0) – Plattsburgh 3, Buff St. 1

The Cardinals are already showing themselves to be the team to beat in the SUNYAC. The Bengals, still smarting from last week’s loss at Morrisville, will give them a stiff test, and may even get a puck behind Platty goalie Mathieu Cadieux. But that’s about it.

No upsets, but early competition

CS 12 Colin Murray sized No upsets, but early competition

Castleton senior Colin Murray dished out three assists in the Spartans’ 5-4 win last weekend against the University of New England (photo: Dan Hickling).

Anyone hoping for an upset in Division III during the weekend just completed would have been in for a disappointment.

True, Hobart ranked ninth, had to eke out a tie with Nazareth (a program barely into its second year of existence) before upending No. 5 Utica the next night on a last-second goal.

And true, there are a few other finger-drumming moments for teams among USCHO’s top 15.

Otherwise, the weekend played out according to form.

Then again, it may be the last one that will.

The details from around the D-III rinks:

ECAC EAST

Ranked No. 12 heading into Friday, Massachusetts-Boston came within a whisker of suffering the dreaded “lost weekend.” However, captain Travis Daniel came through in the clutch to save the Beacons’ bacon. One night after UMB dropped a 2-1 count to New England College, the Beacons blew a two-goal third-period lead at St. Anselm, but eked out a 4-3 overtime win on Daniel’s game-winner on a power play, 42 seconds into extra time. … No. 11 Babson and Castleton both swept their weekends to remain 2-0 in the conference. Castleton senior Colin Murray racked up three assists in the Spartans’ 5-4 win at UNE.

ECAC NORTHEAST

Conference play began Saturday night with Johnson & Wales, Nichols, Salve Regina and Western New England all scoring opening-night wins. WNEC had the toughest task, having squandered a two-goal lead to Becker in the final 1:41 of regulation. Matt Dore came through with the winner for WNEC in OT with his power-play goal at 3:42.

ECAC WEST

An early-season clash between the West’s two ranked teams, No. 5 Utica and No. 9 Hobart, went down to the wire, literally. Robert Sovik gave the visiting Statesmen a 3-2 victory with just one second remaining in the game. Sovik had also scored late in the second period to set the stage for all that third period nail-biting.

MACSAC

Play in the MACSAC won’t begin until Tuesday. However, the early-season tremors have been produced by Worcester State. With three consecutive wins out of the gate, the Lancers have already notched half their victory total of last year.

MIAC

St. Thomas, ranked No. 13, went at it with No. 15 St. Mary’s in a home-and-home set and waltzed out with a pair of wins, 3-1 and 3-0. Tommies’ junior goalie Drew Fielding stopped all but one of St. Mary’s 47 shots on the weekend and earned his seventh career shutout.

NCHA

They won’t meet until Jan. 31, but when they do finally tangle in De Pere, Wis., Adrian and St. Norbert could both still be toting undefeated records. Both have jumped out to 4-0 starts (in conference and overall), including a pair of wins over the weekend. Adrian took a pair of convincing wins (4-1, 5-1) over the Milwaukee School of Engineering, while St. Norbert won twice (4-1, 3-2) at Finlandia. … Lake Forest junior Bobby Barrett, who had eight goals in his previous two seasons, popped in three tallies (plus two assists) in the Foresters’ 13-2 rout of Northland.

SUNYAC

The eyes of the SUNYAC were trained on Plattsburgh on Friday where the No. 4 Cardinals welcomed in Geneseo for an early-season first-place clash. As matters played out, the Cards won handily 4-1, with senior defenseman Barry Roytman scoring twice. It was the first multi-goal game in his career for Roytman, who scored just once in his entire freshman and junior seasons. Plattsburgh polished off the weekend with a hefty 6-0 win over Brockport. … A shootout took place Friday in Morrisville, when Buffalo St. got goals from seven different sources to outlast the host Mustangs 7-5.

WIAC

Teams in the WIAC won’t start beating up on each other until December, so in the meantime, they’ve had to be content in pounding on nonconference foes. Wisconsin-Stevens Point has won all four of its starts by a combined 33-6 count. The latest to fall before the Pointers was Gustavus Adolphus (8-4) and St. Olaf (8-1). … Not to be outdone, top-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire began defense of its national title with wins over St. Olaf (5-2) and St. John’s (3-1).

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Tim Sullivan)

Friday, March 15

Norwich vs. Oswego State
The Cadets have won four of five, and showed everyone they can turn it on when needed last week. After losing to Babson in the ECAC East Tournament, Norwich rebounded with authority against those same Beavers, handling Babson, 4-0, to earn the right to get to Lake Placid. The Cadets should be able to feed off that momentum. Norwich 3-2

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
The Pioneers have a much shorter trip, and seem to have shaken a puzzling end to the season, when they tied and lost to Manhattanville in consecutive weekends. Sophomore forward Louie Educate transferred to Utica for moments like these, and the team’s leading scorer now has a chance to steal the stage. Utica 4-1

Saturday, March 16

Norwich vs. Utica
The Pioneers, give or take a few slumps here and there, have played like a team on a mission all season. Four straight wins to open the season. Seven out of eight wins to open the new calendar year. And a precision 4-2 win over Bowdoin in the NCAA tournament to earn the right here. They’ve come too far to let it slip now. Utica 3-2

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Katie Carito)

Four teams will meet at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., for the Division III Frozen Four this weekend. On one side of the bracket there will be two returning Frozen Four participants in Norwich and Oswego. In the other, there are newcomers Utica and Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Friday, March 15

Norwich vs. Oswego State
Both teams are back for their fourth consecutive appearance in the Frozen Four. Last year, Norwich fell to St. Norbert in the semifinals, while Oswego took a loss to the same team in the championship game. Oswego is 24-4-0 overall, while Norwich holds a 24-3-1 record. I saw Oswego play last week, and they are a big, experienced team that had hunger in their eyes. Oswego 2-1

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
The Blugolds and Pioneers are both new to the Frozen Four and eager to earn their way to the championship round. Wisconsin-Eau Claire holds a 22-5-2 overall record, while Utica went 21-5-1 through the season. The Blugolds are the only team that had to battle through the first round and quarterfinals before reaching the semifinal game. They have had a long road, and are determined to make the last stride. Wisconsin-Eau Claire 2-1

Saturday, March 16

Oswego State vs. Wisconsin-Eau Claire
In championship games, anything can happen. If these two teams end up battling it out it in the final game of the season, it will be an interesting match-up. On one end of the ice, there is an Oswego State squad which has plenty of experience in the arena, and on the other an inexperienced team with the Blugolds taking the long road to the tournament. Oswego 3-2

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Dan Hickling)

Friday, March 15

Oswego vs. Norwich
Neither team should experience any big stage jitters, since both are making their fourth consecutive Frozen Four appearance. That said, the hot hands, Andrew Hare in net and Paul Rodrigues with super-clutch goals, should decide this one, perhaps in OT. Oswego 2-1

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
Frozen Four newbies, both, Utica is more capable of an offensive eruption. Once the nerves are out of the way, the Pioneers should strike early and often. Utica 5-3

Saturday, March 16

Oswego vs. Utica
Utica handed the Lakers two of their four losses this year, but not this time. Oswego is too strong, too deep, too focused to be denied. Oswego 5-2

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Brian Lester)

Well, we have reached the final weekend of the Division III hockey season, and four teams are still standing. Norwich and Oswego State will play in one national semifinal on Friday, and Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Utica will meet in the other. So it’s time for me to see how well I can do making picks for the weekend. No more delays. Here we go.

Friday. March 15

Norwich vs. Oswego
Both teams are in the Frozen Four for the fourth straight year, so experience in this setting isn’t going to be an issue for either team. Norwich is coming off a 4-0 win over Babson, and has five seniors on its roster. Travis Janke will be key to the success of the Cadets. He has 15 goals and 23 assists, and has more than 100 points in his career. Shane Gorman could be an X Factor, having scored four goals in the last five games. He has tallied eight goals on the season and has tallied 14 assists. For the Lakers, they will need Paul Rodrigues to step up big time. He has racked up 15 goals and 30 assists, while Luke Moodie has come through with 22 goals. Those two, along with Jon Whitelaw, have combined for 403 points in their careers. This is a match-up where I think the team that is the most efficient on offense gets the job done. Both teams have strong goalies as well — Chris Czarnota for Norwich and Andrew Hare for Oswego State — but the team that makes the most of its opportunities will win. I’m giving the edge to the Cadets. Norwich 5-4

Wisconsin-Eau Claire vs. Utica
The Blugolds are playing well, and punched their ticket to the national semifinals with an impressive 3-1 win over St. Norbert, the defending national champion. Winning a game like that can give a team a world of confidence. Brandon Stephenson will no doubt be a key to success for Eau Claire. The senior goalie has tallied 732 saves and has allowed only 55 goals this season. If he can continue to play at the level he has during this tournament, allowing only three goals, the Blugolds are going to be poised for a trip to the title game. Jordan Singer will be instrumental in success on offense, as he comes in with 20 goals. Utica has been tested time and again, and played one of the toughest schedules in the country this year. That experience can only do the Pioneers good at this point. The Pioneers have been sharp offensively, putting up 121 goals on the year, which is the highest total in program history. Not only does Utica have a dangerous offense, but it is tremendous on defense. The Pioneers have goalie Nick Therrien in their corner, and he has a save percentage of .924. If he can match the effort the Utica offense is expected to give, the Pioneers could be in a position for the win. Utica has been tough when it scores first, and a strong start could be enough to get them on track for a victory, but my money is on the Blugolds, although it would not surprise me if Utica won this game. Wis.-Eau Claire 4-3

Saturday, March 16

Wis.-Eau Claire vs. Norwich
Although it doesn’t matter which two teams reach the final, as all four are worthy of a spot in the championship game, Wis.-Eau Claire has put together an impressive run, and the Blugolds are my pick to win the national championship.

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Carmine Vetrano)

Friday, March 15

Norwich Cadets vs. Oswego State Lakers
In seasons past, this was the NCAA title game, but these two programs battle to see who moves on the to championship. Oswego has a big win over Adrian, while Norwich got revenge over Babson. Toss-up really. Both teams have the experience and roster to do it, but have to go with the home state, though. Oswego State 3-2

Wis.-Eau Claire Bluegolds vs. Utica Pioneers
Both teams come in with strong records, but with even more impressive wins to reach the semis. The Bluegolds and Pioneers both knocked off strong opponents (St. Norbert and Bowdoin); however, one has to go home. Looking forward to seeing an all New York final. Utica 5-4

Saturday, March 16

Utica Pioneers vs. Oswego State Lakers
Can the Pioneers put a run together like that of Neumann from 2009? We shall see, but Oswego is determined and looks to rebound from losing in last year’s title game. Lakers will handle the Pioneers in this one. Oswego State 4-1

D-III Frozen Four picks: March 15 (Roman Uschak)

Friday, March 15

Norwich vs. Oswego
The Cadets finally got the Babson bear off their back, while Oswego edged Adrian (Mich.) last week and has two of the top three scorers in the nation in Paul Rodrigues (45 points) and Luke Moody (43 points). Oswego was also the national runner-up last spring to St. Norbert, and would like to take that last step to its first national title in six years. Oswego 4-3

Utica vs. Wisconsin Eau Claire
The Blugolds surprised two-time NCAA champ St. Norbert last week, while the Pioneers overcame a rusty start to oust Bowdoin. Utica is 10-2-1 in its last 13 outings, while Wis.-Eau Claire is 10-2 in its last 12 contests. Both schools are Frozen Four neophytes, so someone will be headed to their first national title appearance when it’s all over. The Pioneers are averaging nearly 4.5 goals per game, while Wis.-Eau Claire is averaging just under four goals per game. That might be just enough of a difference. Utica 3-2

Saturday, March 16

Oswego vs. Utica
It’s difficult to beat a team three times in the same season–but it’s not impossible. Utica has just as good a shot at winning its first-ever national title as Oswego does of claiming its second career NCAA crown. Could be a high-scoring affair, but when all is said and done, only one school will skate away with the NCAA championship trophy. Utica 6-5

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