Alright, I think I am feeling like a lot of teams out there that just haven’t felt the magic in the first half of the season but know it’s in there just ready to break out. If anything, this final weekend headed into the semester break is going to have a lot of teams talking about a couple of things – consistency and intensity.
You really need to bring both every time out and while the games have been both very exciting and generally close contests, you can’t help but wonder that coaches aren’t saying “If we had only…”
The good news is there is some time off before the stretch run after the New Year. The bad news is it’s just aboout 15 to 16 games that are going to decide what happens with playoff position or runs into the post-season.
For some, this weekend is about pride and bragging rights (yes, that’s you at Colby and Bowdoin) and for others it’s the travel partner game that means more than two points typically when it comes down to tiebreakers at the end of the season.
So here are my picks in trying to get above the “Cherry Line” or hockey’s equivalent of the Mendoza Line.
Last Week: 10-11-2
Season Record: 28-30-6
Winners in bold.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Colby @ Bowdoin – The first night of this home and home series always carries the two points in league play so it just adds more fuel to the fire for the rivalry that has alums from both schools back for the excitement. Both teams are playing well and this one may come down to the goaltenders and home ice at The Sid. Cody McKinney has been great for Colby, but the Polar Bears have too much up front. Bowdoin 4, Colby 2
Skidmore @ Castleton – This is a travel partner game between teams with very different styles of play. The Thoroughbreds are looking for an uptempo game while the Spartans look to leverage a physical matchup on their smaller home rink. Castleton got off to a great start, only to stumble a bit last weekend. If they are not looking past Skidmore to Norwich on Saturday, look for them to get back on track at home in a close contest. Castleton 4, Skidmore 3
Hamilton @ WNEC – Making the trip from upstate New York for this nonconference affair will be unfulfilled without driving back from a win. That said, the Continentals should not take the WNEC squad lightly, as they have played very well early in the season and definitely surprised some teams that underestimated their talent. Not likely that Coach Bazin’s squad falls into that trap, but the game will be an offensive showcase. Hamilton 5, WNEC 4
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Salve Regina @ Amherst – Another matchup between the ECAC Northeast and NESCAC conferences where the NESCAC has dominated the early season games. Amherst is one of the teams looking for some consistency and striving to finish the first half on a positive note and above .500 with their overall record. Finals are coming, but this game may be just what the Lord Jeffs need to get a little nervous energy out of their system before the break. Amherst 5, Salve Regina 1
UNE @ USM– The other battle in Maine this weekend has the ECAC East travel partners squaring off for two points. A win for the Huskies gets them back to .500 for the first half, while a win by the Nor’easters gets them their first points in conference play this season. This is a budding rivalry between Coaches Holt and Beaney, but the home ice and experience for Southern Maine are still too much for UNE. USM 6, UNE 2
Bowdoin @ Colby – The second of the home-and-home series is strictly for bragging rights between the two schools. It doesn’t matter that there are no conference points up for grabs, as over the past few years, the second game of the weekend series has provided more drama and excitement than the opener. It’s a big dichotomy of styles on the ice and in the respective buildings for the two schools. Colby is very much at home at Alfond Rink and it shows. Colby 3, Bowdoin 2
Castleton @ Norwich – Just another two-game weekend for the Spartans and while the Friday night game meant conference points, this nonleague matchup with the Cadets is about Vermont bragging rights and benchmarking where this team is against one of the nation’s best teams. Norwich is coming off a big 8-1 win where Pierre Olivier-Cotnoir (4 goals, 1 assist) and Scott Schroeder (1 goal, 5 assists) dominated the Purple Knights with an offensive barrage. Coach McShane will have the troops ready to play and show the Spartans how far they need to come to compete for the top spot in the league. Norwich 5, Castleton 2
Tufts @ Conn College – This NESCAC travel partner game is an important one for the points and keeping momentum. Tufts has come out of the gates strong behind the offense of Tom Derosa and solid goaltending of Scott Barchard and Evin Koleini. A win for the Jumbos would make them 5-2-1 overall and 4-1-0 in the conference, keeping them among the leaders. Conn College would get back to .500 overall and move to 3-2-0 in the conference. The Camels have home ice, but also have trouble scoring goals. Sean Curran and Jordan Gray have eight of the team’s fourteen total tallies so other players are going to need to chip in against Tufts. Tufts 4, Conn College 3
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Nichols @ Williams – The final game before the break for both teams showcases some serious offensive firepower. The Bison have laid a 10-spot on two opponents already this season and already have six players in double digit points and Zach Kohn and Robbie Sorrenti with more than 10 assists apiece. Nichols has a ridiculous 36 percent success rate on the power play but now run into one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. Williams has been solid in all aspects of the game and like their opponent are deep and productive across all of their lines. While Nichols may have the special teams advantage, Williams has home ice and the goaltending advantage. It’s a track meet, but Williams keeps a clean slate for the first half. Williams 4, Nichols 2
While many of my esteemed columnists will be signing off for the Holiday break this week, I will have a few more postings, including a mid-season review of the conferences coming up next week. Get your lists of what your team needs to find under the tree to make 2011 a great season and send that list to Santa, or at least the fat guy without the beard writing about your teams’ conference – There are no runaway teams this year and as a result nobody is out of anything in the hunt for conference glory. So be good, stay out of the penalty box and just maybe, Santa and his elves will leave that extra special penalty kill or game saving save in your stocking this year.
Enjoy the holiday season and Santa, make sure the refs get the pucks to drop!