East picks: Nov. 30

The first half is winding down, and traditionally there are many travel partner games as well as some intriguing games among top contenders in several conferences. Everyone wants to go into the break on a high note, and beating a key rival certainly would be a morale booster. My picks over the Thanksgiving weekend finished at 7-3-0 (.700). That brings the season total to 28-11-3 (.702), so I would very much like a morale lift to wind down the first half of the season. Here are this week’s picks.

Thursday, Nov. 30

Massachusetts-Dartmouth at Worcester State
Can the Lancers get a little love? They probably are very happy flying under the radar screen at 7-0-0, but a win here over the second-place Corsairs could create some needed space at the top. The Lancers have scored 15 goals and yielded just three in their four conference games to date. The positive differential continues, but barely. Worcester State 4-3

Nichols at Becker
The Bison have been more consistent overall than the Hawks have shown so far this season. That experience and consistency will help on the road, where Nichols wants to stay within shouting distance of the top two teams in the CCC. Nichols 4-2

Friday, Dec. 1

Bowdoin at Colby
This is one of the greatest rivalries in all of D-III for the players, schools, and alumni alike. Records generally go out the window in these games, and there are very few blowouts in this Maine grudge match. Look for the Mules to eke one out at home. Colby 3-2

No. 14 Utica at Manhattanville
The Pioneers have lit up some teams, but now face a tough Valiant team that is especially tough to play on their home ice. The Valiants took No. 1 St. Norbert to OT twice last weekend and came away with a tie and a loss. This game has the feel of a playoff game, and the score reflects that style of play. Manhattanville 2-1

No. 5 Oswego at No. 7 Geneseo
The Lakers and the Knights always play energetic, high-octane games, and if this were being played at Oswego I would have picked the same score going the other way. I think the difference could be the power play for the Knights in a close game in the third period. Geneseo 3-2

Saturday, Dec. 2

Assumption at St. Michael’s
The Greyhounds have played in some high-scoring affairs already this season and certainly aren’t bashful about launching shots on goal, as they average 35 per game. Chris Johnson will be able to make the key save for his Purple Knights and earn an important NE-10 win. St. Michael’s 4-3

Babson at No. 6 Massachusetts-Boston
Ironically, this series usually favors the visitors, and if there is a team that can hold down the high-flying offense of the Beacons, it is the Beavers. This should be a good goaltending duel between Matt Pompa and Bailey MacBurnie, with a special-teams goal deciding the outcome. Babson 3-2

No. 4 Trinity at No. 8 Hamilton
To use an ESPN term, this could be an “Instant Classic.” This is the rematch of last year’s championship game that ultimately was decided in overtime. Morin vs. Buitenhuis — can you say déjà vu on the overtime? This time, the home team pulls it out. Hamilton 3-2

The calendar is already turning to December, so the halfway mark is almost upon all the teams entering the semester break. The holidays are certainly better all the way around when the break comes after a “W” – “Drop the Puck!”

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