Men’s D-III East weekend picks Jan. 4: Tournaments see ranked teams battling

Nick Albano of Massachusetts-Boston (Macayla Chianco)
Nick Albano of Massachusetts-Boston will be counted on to anchor the defense against a tough Tufts team in the Beacons’ tournament this weekend. (Macayla Chianco)

While there were not many games played between Christmas and New Year’s, several teams took advantage of starting the second-half early and came away with some important wins. Independent Canton pulled the upset of the weekend by downing No.3 Adrian as a road underdog, 6-4, behind Adam Petric’s hat trick. Hobart won the Middlebury Classic with wins over the No. 11 University of New England and the host school, while Trinity traveled west to beat Wisconsin-Superior and No. 13 Marian to capture the Wisconsin Superior Invitational title. Babson also went west and won a pair of games over Milwaukee School of Engineering and Lake Forest to move to 10-3-1 on the season.

My picks last week finished at 6-3-0 (.667) which moved the year-long numbers to 50-21-6 (.688). It is time to get on a positive run, so here are this week’s picks focused on each of the first-round games in the five Eastern tournaments.

Friday, Jan. 4

Codfish Bowl

Tufts at No. 8 Massachusetts-Boston
For years, the Beacons have been stymied in their own tournament by an underdog with a red-hot goaltender. Something must give for the home team, and while it is not an easy round one, the offense finds enough to play for the trophy. UMass-Boston 4-3

Cortland versus Bryn Athyn
The Lions would love to break their current losing streak, but Cortland has one of its own to break. There will be a lot of physical play in this game and maybe some bonus hockey needed to decide it all. Cortland 3-2

Boston Landing Invitational

Lebanon Valley versus Suffolk
The Flying Dutchmen can play it tight or open it up offensively, whereas the Rams really like to play things tight and low-scoring. It will be low-scoring, but enough goals for Lebanon Valley to advance to the final. Lebanon Valley 3-2

New England College versus Nichols
Nichols can’t be happy with their second-half opening loss at Connecticut College, where they lost 5-1. That means the Pilgrims are going to get the best the Bison have come Friday night, and that is just barely enough to get by. Nichols 3-2

Pathfinder Bank/Oswego State Hockey Classic

No. 9 Salve Regina at No. 7 Oswego
The Lakers have had their own challenges in their tournament, but won’t have trouble getting up for the Seahawks. While Blake Wojtala has the All-American pedigree, Oswego’s David Richer has been very good too this season. Richer’s good is good enough. Oswego 2-1

Canton versus Concordia (Wis.)
After a 3-0 loss at Trine on Saturday, the Kangaroos stunned Adrian on Sunday. They would love to keep the momentum going against a competitive Concordia squad, but will need an empty-net goal to settle a close contest. Canton 4-2

WB Mason Winter Classic at Plattsburgh

Connecticut College at Plattsburgh
The Cardinals should be wary of the Camels, who hope to get on a second-half run like last season after a slow start. Goals will not be plentiful in this one, and for the Cardinals one is going to have to be good enough for the win. Plattsburgh 1-0

Manhattanville versus St. Anselm
What the other pairing lacked in offense, this game will make up for it. There is a lot of offensive skill on both sides, and special teams will play a big role in the outcome that goes the Valiants’ way by the slimmest of margins. Manhattanville 5-4

Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament at Norwich

Buffalo State versus No. 13 Endicott
The Gulls have outscored their opponents by a 32-12 margin during their five-game win streak. The Bengals will be a big challenge, but Conor O’Brien has stepped up in goal, and the Gulls will get scoring from a variety of players on multiple lines. Endicott 5-2

Neumann at Norwich
The Cadets will be looking for some home cooking at Kreitzberg to jump-start the offense, which struggled in December. Neumann has been in every game, but hasn’t found ways to win one in a while, which is exactly why the Cadets need to jump on them early. Norwich 5-2

Happy New Year to all, and it is great to get back to the action on the ice. Tournament action certainly spices up the schedule exiting the holidays, so enjoy the assorted nonconference matchups and excitement around hoisting a trophy early in the new calendar year. “Drop the Puck!”