East picks: Nov. 3

The ink isn’t dry on many new rosters yet and one conference has just formally taken the ice for official practices, but some great match-ups abound on the first real opening weekend of D-III play. Here are some first week prognostications to get the season off to a fast start focused on the always friendly, but highly competitive, game picks between East and West (Brian Lester) culminating at the Frozen Four in Utica next spring.

As the much celebrated and recently departed rink announcer Jim Prior used to say, “The teams are ready, let’s play hockey!”

Thursday, November3, 2016

Endicott at University of New England
The Gulls had Norwich on the ropes last weekend on the road, up by two goals before settling for a 3-3 tie. Young teams learn from their experiences and this one won’t get away from Kevin Aldridge and company on the road against the Nor’easters. Endicott 3-2

Westfield State at Salem State
The Vikings kickoff conference play in defense of their title with what will surely be a raucous crowd and packed house at “The Rockett.” Marcus Zelzer looks to pickup where he left conference play last season as one of the toughest goalies beat on the scoreboard. Salem State 4-1

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hobart at Lebanon Valley
Following a 1-0-1 weekend at home against the ranked Beavers from Babson, the Statesmen hit the road to open conference play against the Flying Dutchmen. Too much firepower and depth from Hobart for the home team. Hobart 5-1

Franklin Pierce at Southern New Hampshire
An opening night win for coach Doug Michals and the Ravens last weekend has the program looking positively toward NE-10 play. Look for goalie Tom McGuckin to be the difference in tight battle with the Penmen. Franklin Pierce 4-3

Fredonia at Buffalo State
It was difficult for teams to go to Buffalo State and come out with any points last season, so expect the home team to establish their territory early in this one against a close SUNYAC rival. Buffalo State 3-1

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Suffolk at Salve Regina
The Seahawks split two games out of conference last weekend, but came out a bit flat on Saturday against Neumann in their loss. Expect the home team to be ready to go in conference play behind Blake Wojtala in goal. Salve Regina 3-0

Massachusetts-Dartmouth at Massachusetts-Boston
The Beacons and Corsairs are long-time rivals and it has never mattered where the game has been played or whether it was in or out of conference. The Beacons won’t take anyone lightly and just have too much skill for coach Noack’s UMD squad. Massachusetts-Boston 6-2

Plymouth State at Babson
Babson rallied for a tie in the back half of a two-game set at Hobart last weekend and will look to build on their third-period level of play in their challenging nonconference game with Plymouth State. Look for the Beavers to break into the win column. Babson 3-2

Week 1.5 is a great appetizer for what looks like an all-you-can-eat buffet of hockey from now until March. With all of the games on the schedule, they all mean something; in conference or out, October or February, the road to Utica starts in earnest this weekend. “Drop the puck!”

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