Men’s D-III East weekend picks Jan. 10: No. 2 Geneseo, No. 5 Oswego, and No. 10 Trinity in battles

Tyson Empey of Geneseo (Keith Walters)
Tyson Empey and Geneseo face Lebanon Valley. (Keith Walters)

Holiday tournaments bring not only great hockey, but, without question, lots of surprise results as well. The focus now shifts to some always interesting nonconference games, as well as the meat of the conference schedules with games among key competitors on the slate this weekend. Last weekend’s tournament picks finished with a solid 8-2-0 (.800) record, which now brings the season totals to 58-23-6 (.701). I finally crossed that 70 percent threshold, so let’s hope I can keep the positive momentum going in the second half. Here are this week’s picks.

Thursday, Jan. 10

Fitchburg State at Plymouth State
Both teams are off to slow starts since the change in calendar year, making this head-to-head game even more important in determining who sits at the top of the MASCAC standings. Home ice should favor the Panthers, but FSU doesn’t care where they play, and Brian McGrath is a difference-maker in the crease for the Falcons. Fitchburg State 3-2

Friday, Jan. 11

Utica at No. 5 Oswego
If you like high-end talent, this may be the game to watch this weekend. Both teams have skill and depth and move the puck quickly from defense to offense. The Pioneers could use a signature win to keep building their confidence, but the Lakers are too tough on home ice. Oswego 3-2

Norwich at No. 9 Hobart
It’s a very nice stretch for the Statesmen, who play seven of their final 10 games on home ice. They have won five in a row, including the Middlebury Classic to open the second half. The Cadets lost their own tournament in a shootout last week, so expect a quick jump to try and put Hobart back on its heels. Home cooking is a good recipe for coach Mark Taylor. Hobart 4-2

No. 10 Trinity at Colby
The Bantams split last week with Williams and Middlebury, while Colby dropped a pair of games at Hamilton and Amherst. They are back in Waterville for key matchups with Trinity and Wesleyan, but best not look past the Bantams on Friday night. Trinity 4-3

Lebanon Valley at No. 2 Geneseo
The UCHC has presented some challenges for the Knights, as evidenced by last weekend’s close game against Nazareth. The Flying Dutchmen will need to be exactly that if they want to keep pace the high-powered offense of Geneseo. The visitors keep it close for a while, but the home team has too much firepower. Geneseo 6-3

Saturday, Jan. 12

No. 15 Babson at New England College
The Pilgrims are on a roll since their dominant victory at the Boston Invitational Tournament and early week nonconference game with Anna Maria. They have outscored their opponents by a 17-2 margin in their last three games. The Beavers, who are unbeaten on the road this season, will make it challenging to score goals, but the cozy quarters at Henniker keep things close. Babson 4-3

Assumption at St. Michael’s
This is a crucial NE-10 weekend series that could go a long way in helping to determine seeding through tiebreakers. The Purple Knights have been inconsistent, so look for the Greyhounds to try to get an early jump and steal another road win. Assumption 5-4

Williams at Plattsburgh
Another terrific nonconference affair as part of the two NESCAC travel partners taking on Plattsburgh up north. Expect this one to be close and not as a comparison, like the way the Ephs took down Oswego on the road including some overtime. Williams 2-1

Bryn Athyn at Curry
The Colonels blew a 2-0 lead against Babson last weekend, but finished strong in a big win over Plymouth State on Tuesday. The Lions have played teams tight, so getting the lead and keeping it will be important to take down the visitors. Curry 4-2

It’s just the second weekend of the New Year, and we have already seen many upsets and surprise results. It’s “coach-speak,” but you can’t take anyone lightly and assume a “W” for showing up. “Drop the Puck!”