East picks: Feb. 28

Ouch – I didn’t pick the right favorites, nor any upsets. The picks last week were not playoff-worthy, as I finished at 6-6-0 (.500) which brings the season total to 79-40-9 (.652). It is down to the final games for me to shine.

Here are the picks for Tuesday and Wednesday semifinals in the CCC and MASCAC that show I have a shot at finishing strong in the final week of conference tournament play.

Tuesday, Feb. 28

Johnson & Wales at Endicott
The Gulls have gone 21-1-0 after a 0-2-2 start to the season. Last year’s inaugural season fell one game short of the conference title and NCAA bid, so it is clear this team is on a mission. The season series went to the Gulls 2-0 and they make it a clean sweep with a comfortable home win. Endicott 5-1

University of New England at Nichols
The two teams split the season series, holding serve on home ice, but that was in the first half of the season and both teams have progressed quite a bit since then. The Nor’easters shed the road jinx with a big win over Curry on Saturday and that may be the confidence booster they need to continue their playoff run. Special teams are the difference in this one. University of New England 4-3

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Westfield State at Salem State
Other than a mid-February lapse that saw the Vikings lose two in a row, the team is 8-2-0 in its last 10 games and has defeated the Owls in all three meetings this season. That doesn’t mean much come playoff time, as the Owls proved to Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Saturday. :The Rockett” will be rocking and the home ice is worth a goal. Salem State 4-3

Fitchburg State at Plymouth State
The Panthers have found their game, as they are currently riding a 10-game winning streak where they have surrendered just 13 goals. Two of those wins in the streak are over the Falcons, but don’t worry about overconfidence, as they will be coached to remember the OT loss at home back in November and will not take their opponent lightly. Plymouth State 6-3

Hardware and a goal many teams set at the beginning of the season are now on the line this week! Victory is a bit sweeter now but balanced by the drama of the season being truly over with a loss so close to the trophy game. “Drop the puck!”

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