Weekend picks: Feb. 9

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 9-10

Hamilton at No. 9 Amherst
Hamilton goalie Sam Walther leads the county in both goals-against average (0.89) and save percentage (.966). Their team defense leads the country -– they’ve allowed just 19 goals in 20 games played for a 0.95 goals-against average. They’ve killed all but two penalties all season. Amherst features senior Alex Toupal, who is tallying 1.80 points per game, good for sixth in the nation. Hamilton closes out the season with four games against nationally ranked conference opponents ahead of them in the standings. Last year, they beat Amherst in both their late season meetings. The NESCAC is very close -– just five points separate fourth-place Amherst from first-place Middlebury. Hamilton has a one-point lead on Amherst heading into the weekend. I think we’ll see a split here. I’ll take Amherst in game one and Hamilton in game two. Amherst 3-2, Hamilton 2-1

Lake Forest at St. Norbert
Lake Forest is one of the most prolific offenses in the country, averaging 5.38 goals scored per game. They also have six short-handed goals. They’re a speedy, goal-scoring powerhouse, and St. Norbert will be looking to slow them down. St. Norbert is just four points back of Lake Forest for third in the conference, while Lake Forest is looking to move up themselves –- they’re just three points behind first-place Adrian and two points back from second-place St. Scholastica. Lake Forest is likely to sweep. Lake Forest 5-2, 4-2

Endicott at Morrisville
These two teams sit atop Colonial Hockey, with Endicott enjoying a two point lead. Both teams are on a multi-weekend unbeaten streak. It will likely be an interesting matchup of two European goalies who are having great seasons. Morrisville’s Karoline Årvik is a freshman from Norway who is currently 13th in the country with a 1.44 goals-against average, while Endicott’s Vendela Jonsson is junior from Sweden with a 1.43 goals-against average, good for 10th in the nation. Endicott has the offensive advantage, scoring nearly 3.5 goals per game, but both teams feature a stingy team defense to accompany their stellar goaltending. Morrisville also has one of the best penalty kills, so this series could come down to a lucky bounce or a single shot. I believe we’ll see a split here. I’ll take Morrisville in the first game and Endicott in the second. Morrisville 3-1, Endicott 5-3

Saturday, Feb. 10

Wisconsin-Eau Claire at No. 5 Wisconsin-River Falls
These two teams each have just two games left on the regular season schedule –- one this weekend and one next week -– and they are against each other. Wis-River Falls will host this weekend, while they’ll play in Eau Claire the weekend after. The Falcons had the better of the matchup earlier in the season, but last year they split the four games they played. It was Wis.-River Falls that took the WIAC Championship game in overtime. The Falcons average more than five goals a game, while the BluGolds are the significantly better team on defense, allowing just 1.57 goals per game. Wisconsin-Eau Claire goalie Erin Connolly is currently ranked 12th in the country with a 1.44 goals-against average and four shutouts. I’ll take Wis.-River Falls at home. Wis.-River Falls 4-3