ECAC Northeast and MASCAC Weekend Preview: Feb. 25

There’s a sense of a beginning and closure across the ECAC Northeast and MASCAC.
Playoffs are set to begin in the ECAC, while the MASCAC will wrap up its regular season tomorrow. Here’s a look at what to expect for the weekend, starting with the postseason action in the ECAC Northeast.
ECAC Northeast
Originally set for Saturday, the first round of the playoffs have been pushed to Sunday, which mean this reporter unfortunately won’t be able to make the opening round.
With a 7-2 win over league champion Curry Thursday, Wentworth jumped over Johnson and Wales for the second seed and final bye  in the conference.  The Leopards and Colonels will each host a playoff game Wednesday, while Becker will host Nichols Sunday at 4 and Johnson and Wales hosts Western New England at 6:30.
For the breakdown on the Nichols-Becker game, click here.
As for the JWU-WNEC game, it was a matter of pick your poison for the Golden Bears, as both Wentworth and JWU swept them this year, with the Wildcats posting 8-2 and 10-3 victories in the season sweep.
Johnson and Wales is  loaded offensively, led by Jermiah Ketts, who was named ECAC Northeast Player of the Year yesterday. The forward posted a gaudy 15-12 line in 14 conference games.  Jason Pietrasiak  and Jason Simeone tied for second in scoring behind Ketts, each posting 21 points in conference play.
In net Matt Cooper, the conference’s goalie of the year,  has anchored an improved Wildcats defense.
In spite of all the accolades, the Wildcats lost their last two games of the regular season to slip into third and out of a first round bye.
After opening the season with a three game winning streak, Western New England hit the skids before rallying to win their last two games, including an overtime win against Suffolk on the last day of the regular season that sent Suffolk home and punched WNEC’s playoff ticket.
The win pushed Western New England’s conference record to 5-9, a year after they recorded just one win in conference play.
While they’re not at the level of JWU, WNEC has some firepower for when the game likely turns into a shootout. ECAC Northeast Rookie of the Year Chris Connors was one of  five players to average a point per game or better in conference play.
In net, T.J. Fatse and Eric  Sorenson have split time, with Sorenson picking up the starts in each of the Golden Bear’s last two games.  Whoever starts Sunday will no doubt have their hands full against one of the league’s most talented offenses.
Playoff Picks
Becker 5, Nichols 4
JWU 6, Western New England 3
ECAC Northeast Season Honors
I took a shot at guessing these earlier in the week and pretty much came up empty, with the exception of Ketts being named Player of the Year. (Although with that being the biggest no-brainer of the group, I can’t take too much solace in getting that right.)
Player of the Year: Jeremiah Ketts, Johnson and Wales
Goalie of the Year: Matt Cooper, Johnson and Wales
Rookie of the Year: Chris Connors, Western New England
Coach of the Year: Rob Davies, Curry
First Team All Conference
Forward – Payden Benning, Curry, Junior
Forward – Jeremiah Ketts, Johnson & Wales, Junior
Forward – Skylur Jameson, Wentworth, Junior
Defense – Ryan Warofsky, Curry, Junior
Defense – Domenic Recchia, Johnson & Wales, Junior
Goalie – Matt Cooper, Johnson & Wales, Sophomore
Click here for the full release and rest of the All-Conference teams.
A host of Thursday night games has cleared up a lot of the mystery heading into Saturday’s regular season finale.
Here’s what we know:
-Framingham State concluded their season with a 3-2 loss to UMass Dartmouth and is out of the playoffs.
-Westfield State and Worcester State have clinched the sixth and fifth seeds, respectively.
-UMD and Salem State have clinched a first round bye. The Corsairs hold a one point lead for first place, so if they win or Salem loses, they’ll clinch first.  The Vikings need to win and have UMD lose in order to move into first.
-Both Plymouth State and Fitchburg State will have a home game in the opening round on Tuesday, but tomorrow’s action will determine what seedings these teams receive. The Panthers need one point to clinch third place.
Here’s a look at the games set for tomorrow:
Westfield State at Plymouth State: Potential playoff matchup Tuesday should go to PSU, although the Owls did shutout Plymouth the last time they met. Plymouth State 4, Westfield State 2
UMass Dartmouth at Fitchburg State: With a bye already secured, will UMD go for the regular season crown? I think so. UMass Dartmouth 3, Fitchburg State 2
Salem State at Worcester State: An upset against Salem would be a great way to head into the playoffs, but the Vikings should take this one. Salem State 4, Worcester State 1
And finally, thanks to Steven Miller at Worcester State for passing along this article about the Lancers’  Ryan Quirk and his brother Cory, a former UMass Minuteman who is currently playing for the Worcester Sharks. (Registration is required.)