East picks: Jan. 4

This weekend finds most teams back at it, and while there are some great holiday tournaments lined up in the region, so too are there some great conference games in both MASCAC and NESCAC play. Last week on the limited schedule I went completely wrong on the Codfish Bowl tournament, which contributed heavily to my 5-3-0 (.625) record. The season total now stands at 44-20-4 (.675), so time to get 2018 into a more positive direction with a few more correct picks this week. Here are picks for 10 games that should make for a very entertaining hockey weekend.

Thursday, Jan. 4

Chatham at Canton
The Kangaroos have struggled to find wins, despite downing Plattsburgh and Brockport in the first half for their two wins. The break came at the right time, and some home cooking is just want Canton needs to get the second half off to a good start. Canton 4-2

Westfield State at Becker
The Hawks are 0-1-1 against MASCAC teams this season, so time to even things out with a win and break an 0-for-December three-game losing skid. Becker has only won once when scoring two goals or less, so it looks like three is the magic number. Becker 4-3

Friday, Jan. 5

W.B. Mason Winter Classic at Plattsburgh

Babson at No. 2 Endicott
The Beavers and coach Jamie Rice are right where they want to be coming into a game against the second-ranked team in the country. They are underdogs, and that is OK by them. Would love to pick the upset here, but then there wouldn’t be the requisite bulletin board material for the Babson coaching staff to use as motivation. There’s none needed in a hard-fought, playoff-style game that the Gulls find a way to win. Endicott 3-2

Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament at Norwich

No. 6 Geneseo at University of New England
This is an intriguing matchup featuring two high-octane offenses. The Nor’easters got back in the swing with a Tuesday win over Colby, but the Knights bring more tournament experience and win it in a wild one that may include some overtime hockey. Geneseo 5-4

Pathfinder Bank/Oswego State Hockey Classic

Skidmore at No. 4 Oswego
The Lakers ran into a hot goaltender in dropping the championship game of the Middlebury Classic last week, but that may just be fuel for the fire entering their own tournament this weekend. Skidmore keeps it close, but the home team plays for hardware on Saturday. Oswego 4-2

Curry at Bryn Athyn
The Lions have been a hard-working team all season, and the first-year program has reaped the benefits of that hard work. The Colonels are a team built the same way, so expect this game to be physical and high speed with special teams being the difference for the visitors. Curry 4-3

Saturday, Jan. 6

Worcester State at Plymouth State
A conference battle with a pair of contenders opens the new year in MASCAC play. First round early in the season went to the Lancers by a 3-2 score, and this one might find the Panthers with a case of déjà vu. This one may be the game of the weekend. Worcester State 3-2

No. 3 Trinity at Williams
The Bantams lost earlier in the week to an Adrian team that was 1-3 in their last four games, with the only win being one over Williams in the Codfish Bowl consolation game. Entering the weekend, the Ephs have lost four in a row, and conference play will mean they need to get their mojo back. Not against the Bantams. Trinity 5-3

Stonehill at Johnson & Wales
The Wildcats had a December to forget, going winless in their three games and being outscored by a 17-5 margin. It’s a new year and opportunity to open 2018 with a win at home. Home team ekes it out with a third period winner. Johnson & Wales 3-2

Nazareth at Potsdam
The Bears had a good first half, but want to get it going at home in this nonconference game that can help set up positive momentum for the SUNYAC conference schedule to follow. A slow start to find their legs, but it’s the finish that counts. Potsdam 4-2

The tournament fields are great, the league matchups are crucial early second-half tests, and the nonconference games are equally interesting. What a great way to really get the second half going in earnest — “Drop the Puck!”