East picks: Feb. 16

With Mother Nature providing a blizzard that postponed Thursday night’s action, it is a good thing I added a few more games to try and move my success rate higher on the penultimate weekend of the regular season. I will count the three postponed games when played so my record is complete. The theory clearly panned out with my best week all season  as I went 8-1-0 (.888), which brings the season total to 66-30-9 (.671). For some teams, the playoffs are upon them and for others there is still a chance to move up or down based on how this weekend plays out on the ice.

Here are this week’s picks that include a few playoff games as well as final games in the regular season.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

No. 10 Endicott at Western New England
The Gulls are in hot pursuit of Nichols for the regular-season crown, so focus won’t be the problem for the visitors in this game. Too much depth and balanced scoring for the Golden Bears to match. Endicott 5-2

University of New England at Curry
The Nor’easters best be ready for the Colonels, who have given everyone their best, especially at home. Curry couldn’t quite pull out the upset against Endicott last week, but outshot them and outplayed them in stretches. If they can stop the B-F-F line, the Colonels have a shot, but UNE knows that too. University of New England 6-3

Friday, February 17, 2017

No. 7 Hobart at Elmira
The Statesmen are pretty much locked in the No.3 spot, but after a weekend with a loss and a tie, they are looking to build some playoff momentum against Elmira to close the regular season. Hobart 3-2

No. 12 Trinity at Wesleyan
The travel partners play a home-and-home where the outcome could decide who gets home ice in a quarterfinal game next weekend and maybe even against each other. The Bantams seem to be peaking at the right time, while the Cardinals need to brush off last Saturday’s tough loss to Colby and show Trinity what they have got at home. Trinity 3-2

Plattsburgh at No. 8 Geneseo
The Cardinals have been the hot team in the second half and this game could decide the no. 2 seed in the SUNYAC tournament. The Knights got a big win over Buffalo State, but will need to focus if they want the same outcome with Plattsburgh. Geneseo 4-3

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Williams at No. 9  Hamilton
Just one of the critical games that figures to weigh heavily in who wins the top seed in the NESCAC tournament. The Continentals have been very stingy defensively, which aligns with how Williams has played all season. Home team gets the benefit of the doubt. Hamilton 1-0

Skidmore at Castleton
This one has all the earmarks of overtime hockey as the travel partners play in a quarterfinal NEHC game to open the playoffs. This one will be close, and despite the pro-Castleton crowd, the Thoroughbreds get it done late and add an empty-net goal for good measure. Skidmore 3-1

Massachusetts-Boston at Babson
This game features the combatants in last year’s championship game. Babson has found its game in the late going, but faces a dangerous Beacons squad that would like nothing better than to take out their travel partner one more time. UMB usually pulls the upset as the visitor, but this is the playoffs on the Beavers’ sheet of ice. Babson 4-3

Assumption at St. Anselm
The last weekend saw the Hawks lose to Babson 1-0 and beat Massachusetts-Boston 4-3, so they are ready to play anyone in the NE-10 tournament and maybe even remember they lost a chance to win the title on the ice last year due to a team outbreak that forfeited the title game. Hawks advance with a solid win. St. Anselm 5-3

No. 13 Buffalo State at No. 3 Oswego
The Lakers want and need to send a message to all contenders, and the current group of seniors knows what is at stake now entering playoff mode. The Bengals will keep it close, but one of the Oswego four century-mark scorers will get it done. Oswego 3-2

For those teams whose season is officially over this week, thanks for the effort and being part of a terrific regular season! For those teams moving on to the “win or go home mode,” best of luck in trying to extend February hockey into March. “Drop the puck!”

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