ECAC East/NESCAC picks: Jan. 27

A 5-2-0 record last week saw a great start and a couple of Connecticut schools ruin the hopes for a perfect weekend slate — curse you Trinity and Wesleyan for both winning and losing respectively. Or since Tufts was the common opponent, I should look to Brian Murphy’s team as the cause for the miss by reversing the order of their wins. For the season, my overall record now sits at 38-15-6 (.695). With just a few weeks remaining, there is not much time to make hay for the players or me in picking the games.
This weekend is a conference night special. I am picking just ECAC East contests on Friday and NESCAC games on Saturday — resting on Sunday after last week. Here goes.
Friday, January 27, 2012
University of New England vs. St. Michael’s
The first round went the Nor’easters way back in November by a 6-2 score. Coach Brad Holt’s team needs to gain more than last week’s moral victory in losing by just a goal to Castleton, but shouldn’t take the Purple Knights or goalie Mike Dizgun for granted. This one is closer than the score would indicate, and UNE’s first road win of the season. UNE 5-3
Babson vs. Massachusetts-Boston
Frozen Fenway may have been the launching point for Babson getting on track, and certainly the Beacons have been on a roll since January 1, going 4-1-0, including the upset win over Norwich. First of a home-and-home series for the travel partners, and both teams have the advantage as the visitor. The Beavers take round one, and probably in overtime. Babson 4-3
Southern Maine vs. Norwich
Way back on November 12, the Cadets dominated the Huskies with three power-play goals on their way to a 5-1 victory. The Huskies have been much better about staying out of the penalty box, and that helps to keep this one a close contest. Tough back-to-back contests with Bowdoin on Tuesday and Norwich on Friday — too much offense. Norwich 4-2
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Amherst vs. Wesleyan
Utica snapped the winning streak for the Lord Jeffs, who will be looking to retain their position atop the conference standings.  In the first matchup with the Cardinals, Amherst outshot Wesleyan 40-18, but eeked out a 3-2 win at home in Orr Rink. Different venue, same result. Amherst 3-2
Tufts vs. Middlebury
This one has major implications in looking at who may be sitting in the final home playoff position at the end of the regular season. The first game between the pair was settled by a Martin Drolet third period goal for the visitors from Vermont. The Panthers have struggled mightily in both ends of the ice this month, and are just 4-3-2 at Kenyon Arena this season. It’s a statement game for the Jumbos. Tufts 2-1
Hamilton vs. Trinity
The Bantams got their first conference win against the Continentals in a hard-fought game by a 2-0 score in upstate New York.  Both teams are battling to stay in the top eight and qualify for the playoffs, so points and tiebreakers now carry a bit more importance. Expect a bit more scoring and offense in this one, where the visiting team yet again comes out on top. Hamilton 4-2
It’s the final week in January, so the end of the regular season is coming into clear focus, with the calendar shifting to February. It is really interesting to see the separate conferences looking at the new two-game series with all of the conference foes, but at the end of the day it still comes down to just playing good hockey and winning.
It’s about to get really crazy down the stretch — drop the puck!


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