Men’s D-III East weekend picks Jan. 31: Ranked teams fight it out in CCC, NESCAC

Bailey MacBurnie of UMass-Boston (Macayla Chianco – UMB Athletics)
Bailey MacBurnie of UMass-Boston will look to help his team hold off Skidmore. (Macayla Chianco – UMB Athletics)

The calendar turns to February this weekend, and that means that there are anywhere from two to three weeks remaining in the regular season, depending on which conference you are in. The races are tightening up, so every point is a big deal. My picks last weekend were a big deal, as I finished with a 7-1-1 (.833) record, which now raises the season totals to 76-29-9 (.706). Time to prove my playoff worthiness with some big-league games among ranked teams on tap. Here are this week’s picks.

Thursday, Jan. 31

King’s at Wilkes
On paper, the home team should have no trouble with their opponent, but they play the games on ice. I had the upset alert pegged on this one, but after stewing on last week’s tough overtime loss, the Colonels will take the win and two points. Wilkes 3-2

Friday, Feb. 1

No. 9 Endicott at No. 12 University of New England
A great matchup between teams battling for the league lead. Endicott has been on fire, but has seen some shaky results on Friday nights. UNE managed a split last weekend against Wentworth, so look for the Nor’easters to make a statement on home ice. University of New England 4-3

No. 7 Massachusetts-Boston at Skidmore
The Thoroughbreds have been tough at home, and this one figures to be a low-scoring but highly entertaining game. It’s likely to come down to one save from either Brandon Kasel or Bailey MacBurnie. I’m going with the big Beacon to find a big save. Massachusetts-Boston 3-2

No. 13 Trinity at No. 8 Williams
Both teams being ranked matters little to either squad, as both are chasing Wesleyan so two points here are important. The Ephs have quietly been very good in big games, and playing at home gives them the energy to eke it out over the Bantams. Williams 2-1

Fredonia at No. 3 Oswego
The Lakers have games in hand on league-leading Geneseo, but need to win them if they want to get close enough to pressure the Knights. The Blue Devils won at home back in November, so look for the Lakers to even the season series with a home-ice win. Oswego 4-2

Saturday, Feb. 2

Lebanon Valley at Utica
It is the final game of the Pioneers four-game homestand, and they will want to finish it with a flourish against a dangerous Flying Dutchmen squad that beat Utica back in November. It won’t be as comfortable as the home fans would like, but a win is a win. Utica 5-4

St. Michael’s at Saint Anselm
The NE-10 is heating up, with several teams within striking distance of first place. These two teams are accustomed to being there, which is why this battle has a playoff feel. The home team finds a way to get it done. Saint Anselm 4-3

Plymouth State at Fitchburg State
This is a big game, and not just because of the two combatants. Both teams have been inconsistent and need points to match the pushes from Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Westfield State. The home ice should mean something here, and special teams will be the difference. Fitchburg State 3-2

No. 2 Geneseo at Canton
The Kangaroos probably aren’t helping their SUNYAC application by beating their hopeful future conference mates. Fredonia, Potsdam, and Plattsburgh have all been on the short end against Canton, but don’t expect the Knights to take this opponent lightly. Geneseo 5-2

Time to leave it all on the ice and make that big push. Every week it seems that the gaps between teams in the top four or five shrink, and there is a lot of leap-frogging possible that makes it fun to watch for sure. “Drop the Puck!”