East picks: Feb. 1

Happy Groundhog Day! If I must relive a week, à la Bill Murray in the famous movie, I would prefer this week’s results over last week’s as I rebounded nicely from my most miserable of weeks to finish at 7-1-2 (.800) which is looking up entering the final month of the regular season. The season total now stands at 66-29-10 (.676), which is not too bad, but there is a lot of great hockey still yet on the schedule in the remaining three weeks. Every game means something to someone, and some coaches even admit to scoreboard watching about now. Here are this week’s picks from someone who is definitely scoreboard watching!

Thursday, Feb. 1

Fitchburg State at Massachusetts-Dartmouth
A critical battle between two teams that are neck-and-neck in the standings, so this will help toward tiebreakers if needed. Expect this to be an offensive game in the cozy confines of Hetland Rink, and the home team ekes it out in dramatic fashion. Massachusetts-Dartmouth 5-4

No. 15 Plymouth State at Worcester State
The Panthers are rolling and are looking to put more distance between them and their closest rivals. The Lancers have struggled a bit since the break and will be looking to take the season series with a win on home ice. Visitors jump out quick, but have to hang on to get the win. Plymouth State 5-4

Friday, Feb. 2

Neumann at Elmira
Elmira has been playing some very good hockey of late and continues the trend behind the goal-scoring prowess of Nick Ford, who hits the 20 mark on the season in a hard-fought win and two very large UCHC points. Elmira 3-2

Babson at No. 12 Hobart
The Statesmen have moved into second spot in the NEHC standings and will need a very good weekend to stay there. The Beavers have similar motivation in trying to leapfrog their hosts, who need an empty-net goal to seal the win and two points. Utica 3-1

No. 4 Oswego at No. 14 Buffalo State
The Lakers will need their “A” game if they are going to win on the road against the Bengals. Ian Sylves has been very good in goal for the home team, who also has received some very balanced scoring. Funny, that sounds like the Oswego recipe for a win, but not this time out. Buffalo State 3-2

St. Anselm at St. Michael’s
Two teams that are battling for the top seed in the NE-10 will be playing some playoff-style hockey in this one. It could, make that will, come down to Chris Johnson vs. Shane Joyce in goal, and the visiting netminder finds one more puck. St. Anselm 3-2

Saturday, Feb. 3

No. 6 University of New England at Curry
The Nor’easters have been an offensive juggernaut in recent weeks, but if there is a team that can slow them down it is Curry on their home ice. The Colonels limit a big crooked number, but just fall short by a goal. University of New England 4-3

Middlebury at No. 5 Trinity
This could be a trap game for the Bantams, who are comfortably in front of the pack in the NESCAC standings. The Panthers are still in the hunt for the playoffs, and Stephen Klein can keep them in any game. Home team avoids the trap game with a great third period. Trinity 4-1

Canton at No. 7 Geneseo
The Knights are taking the weekend off from SUNYAC play, but will not be taking down their level of play for the Kangaroos — especially not on alumni weekend with a host of past players and supporters in the stands. Too much offense for the hosts in this one. Geneseo 5-2

Lebanon Valley at Nazareth
The UCHC is truly a crazy conference where the standings get jumbled top to bottom every weekend. The Dutchmen have been playing good hockey of late, but Nazareth leverages their home-ice advantage in this one, barely. Nazareth 4-3

There are just three weeks remaining, so find your game boys! Time and points are beginning to be in short supply — “Drop the Puck!”