The road into February just got bumpy again and teams looking to be playing at their best when it matters most are now focused on the stretch drive.
That is good advice for my prediction skills as well.
The picks for last week regressed coming into February as I finished at 4-3-0 (.571) for the weekend. That brings the season record to 41-27-7 (.593), which finds me still chasing the 60 percent success threshold. The sprint to the end of the regular season is on.
Here are my picks for the East this week:
Thursday, Feb. 4
Salem State @ Westfield State
The Vikings are hot on the trail of league leaders Plymouth State and can ill afford a stumble against an always-dangerous Westfield squad that needs to kick their game into high gear down the stretch. No mid-week doldrums for the Vikings in this one – Salem State 5, Westfield State 2.
Friday, Feb. 5
Babson @ Norwich
The Beavers caught a depleted Norwich squad flat in the first meeting back in December, so Mike McShane will have his team ready to go for two important games with teams above the Cadets in the standings. Injuries are a factor for both teams. It is a close game and a tie would not surprise, but the Beavers like playing at Kreitzberg and eke out the season sweep – Babson 3, Norwich 2.
Oswego @ Plattsburgh
The Cardinals are not taking any conference foe lightly and this rivalry usually has big stakes on the table when they meet late in the season. The Lakers have struggled with inconsistency and the Cardinals would like to keep them struggling for a full 60 minutes – Plattsburgh 3, Oswego 1.
Williams @ Trinity
This game may showcase two of the best up-and-coming goaltenders in D-III. Both Michael Pinios from Williams and Alex Morin from Trinity have been key elements in their teams’ success this season. Both might show off their skills here, but the Ephs pull out the win in dramatic fashion – Williams 1, Trinity 0.
Saturday, Feb. 6
Skidmore @ Castleton
The games between travel partner schools always seem to carry a bit more excitement, especially when played as a home-and home event. Home ice does matter for the Spartans, as do the two important points in the standings – Castleton 4, Skidmore 2.
Manhattanville @ Utica
The back half of the two-game weekend set will certainly feature two teams that can score goals in bunches, but something tells me after Friday’s raucous affair this one is going to be a close one – Manhattanville 2, Utica 1.
Assumption @ Stonehill
These two teams just met a week or so ago and the Skyhawks had their way with Assumption. Only four teams qualify for the end-of-year tournament and while Stonehill is in a good spot, both teams need the win and opportunity for points. The home team takes advantage of both – Stonehill 4, Assumption 3.
Playoff seeding is on the line in every game in February and results have an impact on the all-important tiebreakers as well – drop the puck!