As Sunday’s Super Bowl showed clearly, it’s not how you start the game, it’s how you finish that ultimately matters. While Thursday’s and Friday’s picks saw me pick correctly at 4-0-1, Saturday’s 0-3-0 day dropped me to 4-3-1 (.563), which brings the season total to 58-29-9 (.651). Time is running out, so I will add a couple more key games in an effort to be playoff ready.
Here are this week’s picks that include some key matchups that will help decide conference seeding for the playoffs ahead.
Thursday, Feb. 9
Western New England at Wentworth
The first game between these two will be difficult to match, as the Golden Bears won the game with a power-play goal and one second left on the game clock. That score was 3-2 and the Leopards return the favor on home ice, but without the dramatic finish. Wentworth 3-2
University of New England at Becker
The Nor’easters held serve at home back in November with a 5-2 win. The Hawks are going to try to find the formula for stopping Ryan Bloom and the brothers Fleurent from adding to their current point totals. Trevor is a new member of the century club, and look for those numbers to grow this weekend. University of New England 6-3
Salem State at Plymouth State
This is a game that would appear to be destined for overtime, since the two prior games this season ended in OT with a PSU win and a tie. I’m picking the home team and again think this will be decided in the extra five minutes. Plymouth State 4-3
Friday, Feb. 10
Utica at Stevenson
The Pioneers are coming off a big win over Hobart and don’t want to lose momentum against a game Stevenson team that has played four games in a row decided by a single goal, including two in overtime. This one could find some extra time, but Utica needs the two points if they want the top seed in the ECAC West. Utica 3-2
No. 13 Colby at No. 14 Trinity
This battle of ranked contenders will have a large impact on momentum and who has a real shot at the top spot for the regular season crown. Colby was the big winner in last week’s games, but now takes on a veteran Bantams squad on the road which, in my book, is worth a goal for the home team. Trinity 3-2
Williams at Middlebury
The home-and-home series between the travel partners up and down Rte. 7 has a lot at stake for both teams at either end of the standings. The Ephs are battling for the top spot, while the Panthers are still trying to sneak into the conference tournament and need a bunch of points and some help to make it. They may get the help elsewhere, but not from Williams this weekend. Williams 2-1.
Plattsburgh at Potsdam
The Cardinals are a very hot team right now coming off a huge road win over Oswego, but Potsdam took the Lakers to overtime last Friday night, so coach Emery’s squad will not be taking the Bears lightly. Expecting an empty-net goal to ultimately settle this one. Plattsburgh 4-2
Saturday, Feb. 11
Southern New Hampshire at Stonehill
The final game of the regular season for the Skyhawks presents an opportunity to sweep the Penmen, who have struggled mightily in the second half of the season. William “Billy” Palmer has been very good between the pipes for the Skyhawks, and that is a key difference in picking up the win. Stonehill 4-1
Johnson & Wales at Nichols
This game starts a three-game home stand to end the regular season for the Bison, who would love to come away with six points. The Wildcats should not be underestimated, but neither should the special teams for Nichols that ultimately decide this one. Nichols 5-3.
Babson at New England College
The final regular-season game on the NEHC schedule for both teams will very likely decide who is the no. 2 vs. no. 3 seed in the upcoming tournament. The Beavers have been very stingy in giving up goals, and should score just enough to earn the win and the higher seed. Babson 2-1
No. 12 Buffalo State at No. 6 Geneseo
The first game was all Buffalo State as they limited the Knights to less than 20 shots and held Trevor Hills and Stephen Collins off the score sheet. The venue shifts east for the rematch and the vibe is more like a playoff game, which gives the home team the all-important two points. Geneseo 3-2
No. 13 Colby at Wesleyan
The first game was a see-saw affair with goals coming as very quick responses to the opposition finding the net. Ultimately, the game ended in a 4-4 overtime tie and I could see that happening here as well, but will go with the visitors on the strength of nothing more than belief that the Mules are peaking at the right time. Colby 3-2
The playoff push is officially on in earnest. Every point matters this weekend in the standings and, just as importantly, in tiebreakers! “Drop the puck!”