Weekend picks: March 10

Saturday, Mar. 10

No. 14 Marian at No. 11 Augsburg
Tim: Shut out the noise about selection criteria and all the other stuff posted on social media. If there ever was bulletin board material to motivate a team, Marian has it and should use it against a tough Augsburg squad. I see this one as an overtime thriller for the visitors, who move on with one of their seniors leading the way. Marian 2-1
Brian: A battle of two ranked teams should provide plenty of drama. Augsburg is 11th in the nation, Marian is 14th. The Auggies are in the tourney for the third consecutive year. The Sabres are here for the first time in program history. Augsburg features a balanced attack that has produced 95 goals. Nate Flynn and Chandler Madry lead the way with 26 points apiece. Flynn has punched in 12 goals to go along with 14 assists. Madry has tallied six goals and 20 assists. Nine others have tallied at least 10 points. Nick Schmit has won 16 games and owns a 2.26 goals-against average. The Sabres are no pushover and have won nine of their last 10. Hunter Vorva is a force in goal, winning 20 games this season. He is 11th in the nation in GAA (1.93), and he is one of only eight goalies in the country to record four or more shutouts. Derek Thorogood and Hunter Stewart lead the offense. Thorogood has scored 15 goals, and Stewart has 23 assists. Both have more than 100 career points. Augsburg is very good and tough at home, but I like the upset. Marian 3-2

No. 3 Geneseo at No. 5 Hobart
Tim: I think this is the marquee matchup of the weekend, and it is truly unfortunate that one of these two teams will have their season end on Saturday night. The teams scrimmaged in the preseason, so there is familiarity but that was a long time ago. Both teams are playing their best hockey right now, so this very well could come down to Frank Oplinger vs. Devin MacDonald in their respective goals. Both teams keep their opponent’s stars in check, so look for a surprise goal scorer to decide this one in overtime. Geneseo 2-1
Brian: There is nothing like a top five showdown in the opening weekend of the tournament. Geneseo is ranked third and Hobart is fifth. The Statesmen are in the NCAA tournament for the eighth time, including their fourth consecutive appearance, and it has one of the top scoring threats in the country in Jonas Toupal, who has scored 15 goals and dished out 16 assists. Lawson MacDougall has tallied a team-best 20 assists, while Frank Oplinger and Alexander Connal have split time in goal. They have combined to win 18 games. The Knights are in the tournament for the sixth time. This is their third trip in five years. Conlan Keenan leads the way for Geneseo with 18 goals and 21 assists. Tyson Empey has scored 21 goals to go along with 15 assists. Devin McDonald anchors the goalie spot with a 1.78 GAA. He has won 18 games. Hobart is at home and should have the edge. Hobart 4-3

Colby at No. 7 University of New England
Tim: Throw out the regular season wins by UNE. The teams know each other, but are in very different places as compared to the last regular season meeting. Sean Lawrence did not play in either regular season contest and is in the zone right now in goal for the Mules. As coach Blaise MacDonald says, “This will be a battle of our team defense and spectacular goaltending versus their great offensive weapons.” It’s the national tournament, where goals come at a premium. Colby 2-1
Brian: Seventh-ranked New England is in the NCAA tournament for the first time in the nine-year history of the program. Colby is back in the tourney for the first time since 1996. These two teams are no strangers to each other. They met twice in the regular season. New England won both meetings. The Nor’Easters have five players with 10 or more goals. Ryan Bloom leads the way with 18. Ben Churchfield and Tate Sproxton have split time in goal and have won nine games apiece. The Mules are unbeaten in their last seven games and have allowed just eight goals during that stretch. Cam McDonald is one to watch in this showdown. He has scored 15 goals and dished out eight assists. Sean Lawrence is a veteran goalie who has won 14 games and has a 2.06 GAA. It’s hard to beat a team three times in a season, but I like the Nor’Easters. University of New England 5-3

Fitchburg State at No. 13 Nichols
Tim: These two teams have a long history dating back to the ECAC Northeast days, and the overall record against one another favors the Bison. If Nichols gets another fast start like they have done throughout the CCC playoffs, this will be a big hill to climb for the Falcons. I’m expecting this one to swing back and forth a bit, and an empty-net goal will finally let coach Burgess breathe a bit easier. Nichols 5-3
Brian: Coming off its first Commonwealth Coast Conference title, the 13th-ranked Bison are in the NCAA tourney for the fourth time in program history and searching for their first tournament win. Scott Cuthrell is quite the scoring threat. He has 43 points on the season, including 31 off assists. J.B. Baker leads the team in goals scored with 15 and has 75 points in 55 career games. Colin Brennan anchors the goalie spot, winning 11 games this year. The Falcons soar into the tournament gunning for an upset and are facing off against the Bison for the 60th time, the first since 2009. Nick DiNicola has tallied 35 assists, and Sascha Figi has come through with 21 goals. The Falcons have a freshman in goal in Brian McGrath, who has won 10 games. Nichols gets its first tourney win program history. Nichols 4-3