And then there was one…
It may be hard to believe but this is the final week of the regular season and a lot is riding on the final two games for many teams in both conferences. Everyone at the D-III level (no St. Anselm or St. Michael’s) is in the ECAC East conference tournament so the big questions are final placements and what the first round match-ups look like. The only certain thing is that UNE will go on the road to face the first place team regardless what happens in their two games this weekend. In NESCAC things are very interesting from top to bottom with the only sure thing being the Jumbos of Tufts University being eliminated from playoff contention. That said virtually every other position is up for grabs and with just four points separating first from seventh, it will surely be an exciting weekend of hockey.
The teams are totally geared up for this time of year and apparently I have my prognostication skills in line with playing my best at the right time of the year. Let’s see if I can carry it through the final weekend and into the conference tournaments.
Last Week: 18-4-0
Overall Record: 120-91-21 (.565)
Winners in bold.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Amherst @ Babson – Both teams are fighting for a home-ice berth in the first round and trying to build some consistency. The Beavers are coming off a 0 point weekend and need something this weekend to maintain their position. Unfortunately for Babson there are no points on Friday – Amherst 4, Babson 3.
Hamilton @ UMB – The road warriors from Clinton, NY seem to like bus trips. Throw a little Boston traffic into the mix to add to the overall ride time and these guys will be dying to get on the ice – Hamilton 5, UMB 3.
Bowdoin@ St. Anselm – The Hawks aren’t really playing for anything since the NE-10 tournament is outside of their conference play. That said they could play spoiler this weekend. Just not against Bowdoin who dropped two last weekend – Bowdoin 5, St. A’s 2.
Colby @ NEC – Why all the NESCAC picks? It’s not just about what is at stake. Frankly they are all playing some better and more consistent hockey than their opponents from the East. Think that plays out in Hennniker too – Colby 3, NEC 2.
Skidmore @ Middlebury – Both teams rung in the New Year in a non-conference game that saw the Panthers double up on Skidmore. This time the two points are on the line but no difference in outcome – Middlebury 6, Skidmore 3.
Castleton @ Williams – I really thought about picking a tie here because I think Ryan Purdy is just that good. The Spartans still have their sites set on catching Norwich and that’s the fire that is the difference – Castleton 2, Williams 1.
Southern Maine @ Wesleyan – The Cardinals are in the last spot but Conn College is right on their heels. The outdoor game with Trinity didn’t help their situation and neither will a visit from a desperate Huskie team – USM 4, Wesleyan 3.
UNE @ Trinity – The Bantam’s recent roll is all about Wes Vesprini – big time. No let down here as the dash from ninth to wherever is still possible for Trinity – Trinity 4, UNE 2.
Tufts @ St. Michael’s – The Jumbos are just playing out the streak while St. Mike’s is gearing up for the NE-10 tournament. A couple of potential wins against NESCAC schools would be a nice tune-up – St. Mike’s 5, Tufts 4.
Conn College @ Norwich– Coach McShane’s team isn’t going to take anyone lightly the last weekend especially after taking care of business with Castleton and Skidmore last week. Time to keep the troops rolling – Norwich 6, Conn College 2.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Hamilton @ Babson – The Beavers can’t lose four in a row the last two weekends, can they? Really don’t think so unless they want to be one-and-done next week. Hamilton will be a real dogfight – Babson 3, Hamilton 2.
Amherst @ UMB – See above. Yes they can lose four in row much to Coach Belisle’s dismay. Other than the win against NEC, the Beacon offense has been anemic and when pucks are not going in the last goalie you want to face is Cole Anderson – Amherst 4, UMB 1.
Colby @ St. Anselm – With just two losses in the since mid-January, Colby is playing consistent hockey. The problem is they are facing a team that can be really good when they are on. It hasn’t happened in a week or two so the offense is due for the Hawks – St. A’s 4, Colby 3.
Bowdoin @ NEC – Let the chips fall where they may. The Polar Bears dropped two last week and went from first to fifth. Let’s see what happens after a four point swing on the positive side - Bowdoin 5, NEC 2.
Castleton @ Middlebury – 8-1-1 vs. 7-1-2 over their last ten games. Both teams are playing very well and both want the top slot in their conference. Panthers somehow always seem to find the magic at the right time of the year. Abracadabra – Middlebury 3, Castleton 2.
Skidmore @ Williams - The Ephs can’t afford a two loss weekend and keep home-ice while Skidmore will be looking for help in other games. The Williams seniors who have been a big part of the team’s success end their regular season careers with a win - Williams 4, Skidmore 1.
UNE @ Wesleyan – There is backing into the playoffs and then there is really backing into the playoffs. UNE continues to display its recent spirited play at the expense of the Cardinals – UNE 5, Wesleyan 3.
USM @ Trinity– There is something about that hot goalie that can carry a team and other than Parker Carroll at Norwich, Wes Vesprini is peaking at the right time again for Coach Cataruzolo’s squad – Trinity 3, USM 1.
Conn College @ St. Michael’s – Not the way the Camels want to finish their season but too many tough losses in late January and early February sealed their fate. Even the tiebreaker goes Wesleyan’s way so the Camels have a long trek home – St. Michael’s 4, Conn College 3.
Tufts @ Norwich– Fans at Kreitzburg have grown accustomed to hockey played there in March so why should this year be any different? The road to the NCAA’s starts here and the Cadets are up to the task – Norwich 6, Tufts 1.
I cna’t even think about what the standings are going to look like at the end of Saturday’s games but I can tell you that their will be some compelling first round match-ups and some quality teams are going to see their seasons come to a disappointing end. So for now its about playing all out this week and getting ready go even harder next week.
Playoff positions are on the line – drop the puck!
And then there was one…