Men’s D-III East weekend picks Jan. 24: SUNYAC rivals faceoff, Hobart looks to keep momentum

Jonas Toupal of Hobart (Kevin Colton)
Jonas Toupal leads Hobart against New England College this weekend. (Kevin Colton)

Each week, there are surprises across the conferences found on the scoreboard, which the coaches are beginning to avidly watch. There is a strong probability that the races are going to be crazy right down to the wire, and you never quite know which team is going to make life miserable on the ice for the prospective favorites.

Last weekend, I fell victim to several upsets and phenomenal goaltending performances that left me with a less-than-stellar 5-4-0 (.556) record, which now brings the season totals to 69-28-8 (.695). I can’t dwell on last week’s less-than-contending prediction performance and need to regroup for another tough slate in the East. Here are this week’s, hopefully improved, picks.

Thursday, Jan. 24

Plymouth State at Framingham State
The Panthers have not had an auspicious start to 2019, including Tuesday night’s nonconference loss at Salve Regina. They need to get things going in the rather congested MASCAC standings. One way to help yourself is to win any league game, but especially the ones you are supposed to win on paper. Got to play them all, and Plymouth State earns a “W.” Plymouth State 4-2

Friday, Jan. 25

Wentworth at No. 12 University of New England
The Leopards showed a lot of fight in a comeback win at Salve Regina last weekend. The Nor’easters are playing some solid hockey, but shouldn’t look past the Leopards and they won’t with coach Kevin Swallow’s tutelage. It is close early, but too much offense for the home team. University of New England 4-1

Hobart at New England College
The Statesmen jumped out of the blocks hot in the New Year, but have struggled on the road, where they are just a .500 team. The Pilgrims play everyone tough at home and could use this one to keep their home playoff positioning going strong. New England College 3-2

Wesleyan at Amherst
The Cardinals like their current perch in the standings, but face a talented Mammoths squad that has found their scoring touch. Tim Sestak will need to be large for Wesleyan to help them eke out a close one in OT. Wesleyan 2-1

Plattsburgh at No. 2 Geneseo
Throw out the records in this series. It really doesn’t matter if either team is ranked nationally or playing sub-.500 hockey. These two rivals bring out the best in each other. This is about league points, so expect the energy level and intensity to be high, with the home team feeding off the local crowd. Geneseo 4-3

Saturday, Jan. 26

Manhattanville at Lebanon Valley
The UCHC is a logjam as usual when it comes to the standings. Both teams need the points, but it is the home team that comes out with more of a sense of urgency in this very entertaining offensive showcase. Lebanon Valley College 5-4

Southern New Hampshire at St. Michael’s
The NE-10 is proving to be very competitive, and both teams will be looking to do better than a split in the weekend series. The Penmen have been getting great goaltending from Kurt Gutting, but could use a few timelier goals. They get both in Winooski. Southern New Hampshire University 4-3

Canton at Bryn Athyn
The Kangaroos have been playing some inspired hockey of late against some quality teams out of the SUNYAC. It is a battle of independents in this weekend series, and Canton is focused on upping the win total on the season to double digits. Canton 4-1

Cortland at Utica
The Pioneers have certainly seen their ups and downs lately. One of the “ups” was a 3-3 tie at Oswego, which buried the Red Dragons last weekend. I don’t believe much in comparative scoring, but think the home team will be focused in the “Aud.” Utica 5-2

It is hard to believe we are winding down Jan. so that means teams need to be revving up their games heading into the all-important month of February that will decide playoff qualification and positioning. “Drop the Puck!”