ECAC East/NESCAC picks: Jan. 6

Last week, with a challenging group of tournament and nonconference games to choose from on New Year’s weekend, Saturday’s picks were 5-0, which led to a strong 7-2-1 for the weekend. Those picks built my season record to 23-9-4 (.694) and have momentum swinging my way in the first full weekend of conference action on the horizon.
Last week, I didn’t pick the marquee Plattsburgh/Castleton matchup, but I am this time around, along with several other games of interest.
While most students are still on break, I hope all have recovered from the New Year’s festivities, and if your plans for the weekend are open, go catch some great hockey action at a rink nearby.
Friday, January 5, 2012
Castleton vs. Plattsburgh
It’s round two for the Spartans and Cardinals at Plattsburgh, but I don’t expect this game to be as favorable to the home team based on Castleton’s revised lineup and a week to practice following last week’s tournament. Not sure about how close the shots will be, but the game is a one-goal affair this time around. Castleton 3-2
Morrisville vs. Norwich
Both teams finally return to action at the Norwich Classic, which also includes Elmira and Fitchburg State. While neither team has seen official action since December, the Cadets look to remain unbeaten this season while Morrisville may still be licking some wounds from back-to-back lopsided losses against Neumann to close out the first half. If the Cadets are healthy, this could be a blowout too. Norwich 7-2
Wesleyan vs. Middlebury
The Cardinals come in riding a four-game win streak and boasting the league’s leading scorer in Nik Tsaiopoulos. They also won the St. Michael’s Invitational just up the road in Winooski, so coach Potter’s team will be looking to keep some Vermont magic alive against the Panthers. Middlebury won its own tournament, closing with a tie against Southern Maine in the battle of the Beaney Brothers. I actually like a tie in this one, but won’t be a chicken. A late goal, late in the third period, wins it for the home team. Middlebury 3-2
Southern New Hampshire vs. Massachusetts-Boston
The opening round of the Codfish Bowl Tournament finds the hosts looking to get to the .500 mark overall and win their own tournament for the first time in several years. The Beacons will pressure the Penmen early and often with a focus on Saturday’s championship game. Mass.-Boston 5-2
Buffalo State vs. St. Anselm’s
The Bengals come to New Hampshire to face a red hot Hawks squad that has won three in a row and outscored their opponents by a 25-7 margin in those games. The power play is clicking at nearly 30 percent, and the attack is balanced, with 15 different players scoring goals so far this season. St. Anselm’s 5-2
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Hamilton vs. Bowdoin
The overtime win at Curry showed off the Continentals’ speed, depth, and clutch goaltending. Anthony Scarpino and Michael DiMare are the real deal, and the Polar Bears are going to have to match their offensive prowess with some of their own. This one has all of the makings of a track meet, and whichever goalie comes up with the big last save at the end, wins. Hamilton 5-4
Suffolk vs. University of New England
This nonconference affair may just come down to special teams and who can stop the opposition’s power play. Both teams struggle to score goals, and moreover struggle immensely killing penalties. The home team stays out of the box more than the Rams. UNE 4-1
Babson vs. Massachusetts-Dartmouth
The Beavers are off to a sluggish start, while John Rolli’s Corsairs are still looking for that overall high level of consistency. Both teams will be trying to force the play, but the small confines of Hetland Arena favor the home team in a low-scoring affair that won’t have an extra-attacker goal, but likely an empty-net goal. Mass.-Dartmouth 3-1
Western New England vs. Connecticut College
As noted in this week’s column, the Camels scored twice with their goalie pulled to rally from 3-1 down for a 3-3 tie with Hamline in the Oswego tournament last weekend. Coach Ward surely hopes some of that positive momentum and energy carrys over to this weekend and the matchup with the Golden Bears. It’s another nail-biter, but no late heroics required this time around. Connecticut College 3-2
The action is sure to heat up, as there are only seven or eight weekends of hockey left for teams to find their game and be playing at peak performance. No time for any New Year’s hangover this weekend.
The students may not be back in classes yet, but there are points to be had — drop the puck!