ECAC East/NESCAC picks: Dec. 9

Two consecutive weeks of nailing the picks has this writer excited about the final weekend of play prior to the semester break.  Last week’s 5-1-0 record builds to a season record of 13-6-1 (.650) with again a challenging group of conference and non-league games to choose from this week.
It’s awesome this week to see the round robin among the top three NESCAC schools benchmark the top of the conference, as we saw last week with Castleton and Norwich meeting for the first time this season. In the old, one-time only schedule, a bad game or weekend against an opponent you played just once could have significant impact, but this week’s battles set the teams up for knowing there is a chance for redemption if the “A” game doesn’t show up at the rink on Friday or Saturday night.
Friday, December 9, 2011

Williams at Amherst
On paper, two teams don’t get much closer than this.  Both the Ephs and the Lord Jeffs have outstanding goaltending, defense, and a very balanced attack from all of their lines. Special teams may be the difference maker in this one, as anyone who can get a power-play goal may just have found the key to victory. The home team historically has been better on the man advantage, and it is the difference in the LaRose vs. Purdy battle. Amherst 2-1.
Plattsburgh at Norwich
Norwich took the first meeting between the teams in the opening round of the Primelink Tournament by a score of 3-0. The game saw a total of 30 shots on goal from both teams combined, so this one figures to be a defensive battle. Plattsburgh did not register a goal in the Primelink, and will struggle offensively against the Cadets, who, despite playing with some injuries, remain perfect on their home ice. Norwich 2-0.
University of New England at Franklin Pierce
This one figures to be a wild one, as both teams are looking to end the first half on a high note. Counting the SUNY-Canton exhibition games, Franklin Pierce is 1-4-4 and looking to shore up the defensive zone while establishing a more consistent attack. Much the same can be said for the Nor’easters, who need find some consistent goaltending to support their team. I think this one has lots of offense and a late goal to win it. UNE 5-4.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Cortland at New England College
A match-up between the SUNYAC and ECAC East will find both teams looking to end the first half with a big nonconference win.  This contest finds two teams that really don’t want to play short-handed, since their penalty-killing efforts have been problematic thus far in the season. So it would only make sense that the team with the better power play gets the “W” here. NEC 5-3
Manhattanville at Wesleyan
Friday night, the Valiants are at home facing Trinity, so Chris Potter’s team will be looking for a little support from the Bantams in wearing down Wesleyan’s Saturday opponent before they have to board the bus. Both teams play things close to the vest in terms of their style, and both want to finish the first half over the .500 mark. Tough to travel on the second day and play, but the Valiants squeak one out. Manhattanville 3-2
Tufts at Colby
The Jumbos rely heavily on the new school record holder for saves, Scott Barchard, and this weekend will be no exception during the visits to Bowdoin and Colby. While the offense has been a bit anemic, it doesn’t take a lot to win if you don’t give up many.  Last one is an empty-netter in another nail-biter. Tufts 3-1
We often refer to milestones for players in these weekly pieces, as noted with Scott Barchard’s setting a new record for saves at Tufts in just two and a half seasons. Let’s give a shoutout to the newest coach in the 300 Win Club. Ed Seney from St. Anselm realized that milestone with last week’s NE-10 win over SNHU by a score of 7-1. Seney’s resume includes stops at Potsdam and St. Anselm, and the Lake Placid, N.Y., native is truly one of the really good guys in the college game.
Always nice to see some different match-ups before the rigors of conference play kick-in after the New Year. Enjoy the remaining action before the semester break — drop the puck!

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