East picks: Feb. 23

Wednesday’s playoff games saw home teams go 3-1-0, setting up a full slate of games for Saturday, including one championship game in the NE-10. The picks this week including the two make-up games picked previously. I finished at 5-1-0 (.833), which brings the season total to 78-35-9 (.676). Not much time left and after Saturday, fewer games to get my playoff accuracy aligned.

Here is a full slate of picks for Saturday’s great playoff action that hopefully shows that I have a champion pedigree:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Assumption at St. Michael’s
The Purple Knights probably expected to see their rival St. Anselm in the championship game, but shouldn’t take Assumption lightly if they want another NE-10 championship. Chris Johnson has been solid in goal all season for St. Mike’s and he will need to be better than Nick Commesso in this one. Think a couple of empty-net goals pad the final score. St. Michael’s 5-2

Babson at New England College
The two teams love to play it tight and both have demonstrated the ability to keep opponents off the scoreboard. The regular season saw a split in the two games, with the Pilgrims winning the most recent match-up on home ice just two weeks ago. Expect another one goal game and yes, this one goes to overtime. New England College 2-1

Castleton at No. 1 Norwich
The Spartans broke out in a big way last week in their 7-2 win over Skidmore and now face a team they didn’t score on in two games this season, losing by 4-0 and 3-0 scores. They score this time around, but just not enough against a Cadets team with something to prove. Norwich 4-2

Bowdoin at No. 8 Hamilton
In the NESCAC tournament, there is a history of No. 8 seeds pulling off the upset. It is a long drive from Brunswick and the Continentals are not going to be very hospitable hosts. First game ended in a 6-3 win for the home team and I am seeing a repeat event. Hamilton 6-3

Tufts at No. 12 Trinity
There is a history here in the playoffs and not one that Trinity would like to repeat in playing the Jumbos and losing early in the conference tournament. Opening night saw a win for Tufts, but the return engagement was a runaway for the Bantams by a 7-1 score. Nik Nugnes has picked up his game for Tufts in goal, but the Bantams bring too much in experience and firepower. Trinity 5-2

Wesleyan at No. 13 Colby
The Mules have played four one-goal games in a row, going 3-1 in that span, which helped them grab the second seed in the tournament. One of those wins was over Wesleyan by a 3-2 score. The first game between the two was a 4-4 tie. Obviously, there are no ties in the playoffs, and this one could go either way, but I’ll give the motivated home team the benefit of the doubt. Colby 3-2

No. 6 Hobart at Manhattanville
The Valiants have been the Statesmen’s Kryptonite this season, as they swept the season series. They say the hardest thing to do is beat a team three times, and despite the regular-season record, Hobart is a team built for this time of the season. Playoff revenge is very sweet. Hobart 3-2

No. 10 Geneseo at Plattsburgh
Stephen Collins has got it going on right now for Geneseo, including his hat trick in the first round win over Brockport on Wednesday. The teams played a 1-0 thriller on the final weekend of the season and this one will be close too, as Bob Emery’s squad knows how to play a very disciplined style in front of a very raucous home crowd. Geneseo 2-1

No. 14 Buffalo State at No. 2 Oswego
The Lakers buried the Bengals 6-1 last Saturday behind Kenny Neil’s four goals and five points. This one is likely to be closer, and I expect a couple of empty-net goals will account for the final goal differential as Oswego carries forward their mission to reclaim the SUNYAC crown. Oswego 5-2

Johnson & Wales at Salve Regina
The battle of Rhode Island finds teams looking to settle unfinished business from a 1-1 overtime tie just 10 days ago on the Seahawks’ home ice. Salve Regina has gone unbeaten in its past five games, outscoring opponents 15-8 in that stretch. The defense of the conference title from a year ago starts with a great rivalry game that will have Salve highly motivated to win and advance. Salve Regina 3-2

University of New England at Curry
The Colonels swept the season series in two distinct fashions by winning an 8-4 blowout and holding on in a 3-2 nail-biter less than two weeks ago. The Nor’easters have an amazing offense, but for some reason have really struggled on the road, where they went 2-6-1 against conference foes on the road this year. Unfortunately, Curry can take advantage of that Achilles’ heel and they do, barely. Curry 3-2

Westfield State at Massachusetts Dartmouth
The Corsairs have had a great run to end the season, going 6-1-0 since the beginning of February, which includes a 2-0 win over the Owls, whom they swept in the season series. Drew Michals has been very solid in goal and the line of Casey Shea-Mike Kelly-Matt Baldino upfront has too much for Jackson Leef and company. UMass Dartmouth 4-2

Hardware and a goal many teams set at the beginning of the season are now on the line over the next couple of weekends. Victory is a bit sweeter now, but balanced by the drama of the season being truly over with a loss in the playoffs. “Drop the puck!”

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