East picks: Nov. 16

Wow! It certainly didn’t take long to fall back to earth on these weekly picks. After crushing it the first two weeks of the season, I stumbled to a 4-3-1 (.563) record last weekend, including 0-2 on Thursday night with the MASCAC and CCC game picks. I recovered some on Friday and Saturday, but not quite enough, which brings the season total to 16-6-2 (.708). NESCAC joins the fray this week, and there are also a couple of intriguing nonconference matchups to choose from. Here are this week’s picks.

Thursday, Nov. 16

Salem State at Plymouth State
This matchup has been an important foreshadowing for the conference playoffs, and the games between the two foes play like a playoff game even in the regular season. The Panthers have been strong early, and home ice makes a difference in this one. Plymouth State 5-4

Western New England at Suffolk
The Rams have been very good when they have been on their game, and this Thursday night matchup finds them playing host to the Golden Bears. Expect them not to be very gracious hosts and take the win. Suffolk 4-2

Friday, Nov. 17

No. 8 Hobart at No. 15 Massachusetts-Boston
Both teams come into the conference matchup with a national ranking, and the Beacons will be fired up for the Statesmen. Lots of star power on both rosters, but in the end Hobart will get the big save and hold on for a one-goal win. Hobart 4-3

Tufts at No. 7 Trinity
The Jumbos have proven to be as challenging an opponent as the Bantams have faced on their home ice and have stunned the home crowd on more than one occasion. It is the first night and first real game of the season for both, so expect some fits and starts for both teams. The home squad has a deadly first line, and that is the difference in this one. Trinity 4-2

Stonehill at Franklin Pierce
The first of a two-game set hosted by the Ravens could come down to a battle of netminders in William Palmer for Stonehill and Tom McGuckin for FPU. The visitors need to set the tone for the weekend and get a goal late to grab two points on Friday night. Stonehill 3-2

Saturday, Nov. 18

Fredonia at No. 9 Oswego
The Lakers best be ready for the Blue Devils, who can still sneak up on teams and surprise them. Expect this one to be close and maybe too close for the home team, which finds a way to get the job done. Oswego 3-2

No. 10 Utica at Chatham
The Pioneers will look to rebound from their first loss of the season, and nothing provides focus like a long bus ride. The ride home should be more enjoyable with the “W” and two points in conference play. Utica 5-2

Sunday, Nov. 19

Stevenson at No. 11 Hamilton
What an intriguing matchup on a number of fronts. The Mustangs have been very stingy in surrendering goals in front of Jacob Caffrey, but face one of the nation’s best goaltenders in Evan Buitenhuis. Family bragging rights on the line with Matt Bruneteau coaching at Stevenson against brother Tyler, who is a captain for the Continentals. Going with home team just because I have to pick someone, and this could be a tie. Hamilton 1-0

The final conference to officially join the 2017-18 battle is playing real games this weekend, and that means we are all-in for great hockey over the next few weekends before the semester break. “Drop the Puck!”

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