Men’s D-III East weekend picks Feb. 7: Oswego and Geneseo battle for dominance, Babson looks for success in NEHC

Tom Aubrun of Norwich (Mark Collier)
Tom Aubrun leads Norwich against New England College on the final weekend of NEHC play. (Mark Collier)

There aren’t many teams breathing easy, and no one has clinched anything just yet in any conference race. While the NEHC finishes regular season play this week, all the other races are facing limited chances to impact the standings beyond this weekend, so look for the competitive alarm bells to be ringing in every locker room. A zero-point weekend could be fatal this time of the year. There are great battles everywhere, including the marquee event with Oswego hosting Geneseo. Last week, my Saturday picks dropped my record down to 6-3-0 (.667) which brings the season totals to 82-32-9 (.703). Here are this week’s picks.

Thursday, Feb. 7

Massachusetts-Dartmouth at Plymouth State
It is a battle between the top two teams in the standings, and the winner claims the top spot. Both teams are coming off strong outings against key contenders, so expect the best from both sides. The Panthers won a pair of overtime games last week and seem to be in playoff mode already. Make it three OT wins in a row. Plymouth State 4-3

Friday, Feb. 8

Nichols at No. 13 University of New England
UNE cranked up the offense, scoring 13 goals against rival Endicott last weekend, while Nichols dropped two games to Salve Regina. The Nor’easters have it going right now and want to stay in the hunt for the top spot in the CCC. University of New England 5-3

No. 15 New England College at No. 8 Norwich
The Cadets last loss dates to Dec. 8, 2018, at New England College. They are unbeaten in their last 12 games, and Tom Aubrun outduels Anthony Pupplo here in a good one. Norwich 3-2

Neumann at Wilkes
After starting the season 0-12-2, Neumann is 5-1-2 in its last eight games, including wins over Utica and Stevenson. Wilkes is the home team and battling for the top spot, but best not take this opponent lightly. The upset alarm is ringing. Neumann 4-3

No. 4 Oswego at Brockport
The Lakers can’t look ahead to Saturday and their date with Geneseo. Last week’s home loss to Buffalo State left them three points out of first place, so they need these points to make it interesting in the final two weekends. Focus is key for the visitors. Oswego 4-2

Saturday, Feb. 9

Babson at No. 7 Massachusetts-Boston
On the last weekend of the regular season in the NEHC, the two travel partners square off in a home-and-home series that usually finds the visitors enjoying success. If that formula holds true, the Beavers may need the points to stay in front of a charging Norwich squad, but hope they are fighting the Beacons for first. Babson 3-2

No. 14 Williams at Middlebury
The Ephs suffered a heartbreaking weekend against Wesleyan and Trinity last week, so they will look to rebound strongly against their travel partner to the north. They get back to their winning ways, while looking for some help in the standings. Williams 4-2

Worcester State at Assumption
The battle for Worcester bragging rights is on the line in this nonconference matchup. Both teams have been playing well in their hotly contested league battles, so expect nothing less here. The Greyhounds eke this one out. Assumption 3-2

No. 2 Geneseo at No. 4 Oswego
The Lakers will want to make a statement in this one, but will also need to solve how to score on the Knights and goalie Devin McDonald. They figure out how to do that, but one isn’t enough. Geneseo 2-1

The standings can change a lot based on the outcomes of each league contest. The only way not to get caught in the turmoil is to control the one thing you influence — win the game you are playing. “Drop the Puck!”