ECAC East picks: Nov. 4

Lots of “firsts” this year for the ECAC East! First, there are games that mean something the first weekend in November.  That’s about two weeks ahead of the schedule defined by the previous interlocking schedule with the NESCAC conference. While the travel partner arrangements remain intact, these games will be the first leg in what sees two match-ups among all of the league’s teams vs. the single regular season match-up that spanned the two conferences in the past. That means there should be a lot more familiarity with each other, and certainly more rivalry building, as there is always a second-chance game against all the teams in the league this year. Norwich and St. Michael’s are off, so eight of 10 teams are in action this weekend, and this is how I see it playing out.
Friday, November 4th
St. Anselm at Massachusetts-Boston
Both teams will be looking to get out of the gates quickly and build some confidence. The Beacons return the more seasoned squad, and will be looking to take advantage of the young Hawks. Home ice makes the difference. Mass.-Boston 4- 3
New England College at Babson
The Beavers and the Pilgrims always seem to start out slowly but build momentum at the right time for the conference playoffs. This one should have a great pace and a fair amount of offense. Babson has the edge in goaltending with either Testa or Peabody and that’s the difference . Babson 4- 2
University of New England at Castleton
The Spartans were more than a little disappointed to end last season before the conference championship game and will be looking to set the tone early. The Nor’easters showed a much improved game in the second half of the season and will look to build their new program on a strong group of returning players and good incoming freshman class. Coach Todd has already been where UNE is now and the Spartans will show how much further they need to come. Castleton 5- 1
Southern Maine at Skidmore
Whether it’s the regular season or playoffs, these two teams always play a close game. Both squads like the big ice so no advantage there either way. So closely matched I should pick an opening night tie, but where’s the fun in that? One visiting team has to win opening night. Southern Maine 3- 2
Saturday, November 5th
New England College at Mass.-Boston
Four-point weekends are rare at any point in the season, but especially where all of the parts are still being tweaked. Looks like a split for both teams this weekend. New England College 3- 1.
St. Anselm at Babson
Note the above as both teams had difficulty coming away with points on both nights of the weekend last season and this year looks to start the same. St. Anselm 5-3
Southern Maine at Castleton
Spartans aspire to sit at the top of the standings and a view from the first place perch after week 1 is a good start. Castleton  3 -1
University of New England at Skidmore
This one may be the most fun game of the weekend. Assuming no ill effects of the quick turnaround to the Olympic size rink, Coach Holt’s squad should love the room to move and create. Don’t call this an upset . University of New England 4 – 3
The ECAC East is off an running (preview posted separately). Enjoy the action, as it’s a whole new league this year – Drop the puck!

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