East picks: Nov. 10

The first week is always a very challenging one in predicting winners, as “on paper” rosters don’t always translate to “on-ice” performance. That said, I will take week one as being a good start, having posted a 5-2-1 (.688) record, which is just below my targeted 70 percent success goal for the season.

This week doesn’t get any easier, but here are the choices, starting with two CCC battles on Thursday night.

Thursday, Nov. 10

Salve Regina at Endicott
The rematch of last year’s conference title game that sent the Seahawks on to the NCAA tournament is likely to be one of the best games of the weekend. Both teams have many of the same pieces back from last season and the game will likely come down to a battle between the respective goaltenders — Kevin Aldridge for Endicott vs. Blake Wojtala for the Seahawks. Salve Regina 2-1

Wentworth at Johnson & Wales
Both teams are really trying to find some early-season consistency in their overall games, while the Leopards in particular are struggling for goals. The Wildcats at home won’t make scoring easy for their opponent, but an empty-netter is likely the final difference-maker on the scoreboard. Johnson & Wales 3-1

Friday, Nov. 11

Elmira at Neumann
It is early November, so there is no reason to hit the panic button, right? Well, if you are either of these teams looking up at Hobart and Utica, you need to start earning some wins and the Knights get it done on home ice. Neumann 5-4

Plattsburgh at Buffalo State
The Bengals have enjoyed being at home on back-to-back Fridays, but unfortunately last week didn’t go their way against Fredonia and this week’s opponent is not going to be in a giving mood either. Plattsburgh 4-3

Skidmore at Babson
The Thoroughbreds got off to a fast start in conference play last weekend with two wins, while Babson has been finding its game in three nonconference battles. To contend, you need to beat a perennial contender. Skidmore falls a bit short but sends a message that they are a team to challenge this season. Babson 3-2

Saturday, Nov. 12

Salem State at Plymouth State
This was last year’s conference title game and could be a preview of the same for next calendar year so look for the visitors to send a message as to why they are the defending champions. Salem State 2-1

Lebanon Valley at Utica
The Flying Dutchmen are about to find out just how hostile a rink can be toward the visiting team when they take on Utica, where the home-ice advantage and crowd are something special across all of college hockey, not just D-III.  Utica 6-2

Framingham State at Stonehill
This nonconference affair is likely to be a high-scoring and highly entertaining game, but look for the Rams to leverage special teams to their advantage in earning the hard-fought win. Framingham State 5-4

Some major matchups between key rivals headline the schedule this week, so look for playoff-style hockey in November to add to the usual excitement of conference play. “Drop the puck!”