Men’s D-III East weekend picks Feb. 14: Salve-UNE, Trinity-Wesleyan highlight the games

Walker Harris of Wesleyan (Wesleyan Athletics)
Walker Harris leads Wesleyan against Trinity this weekend in a huge NESCAC game. (Wesleyan Athletics)

It isn’t “win or go home” yet for most teams, but it sure is starting to feel that way. The NEHC starts its playoffs this weekend, and virtually all the other races are coming down to the final scheduled games to decide the regular season winners and seeds all the way down the conferences. If it feels like playoff hockey, it’s because it essentially is playoff hockey. Last week, my picks were less than postseason worthy, as I went 3-3-3 (.500) which brings the season totals to 85-35-12 (.689). Here are this week’s picks.

Thursday, Feb. 14

Worcester State at Westfield State
This is a must have game for the Owls, who have yet to beat the Lancers this season, going 0-1-1 in the two previous outings. Home ice will be a difference-maker for a team hoping to contend for the top spot in MASCAC. Westfield State 4-3

Friday, Feb. 15

No. 11 Trinity at No. 12 Wesleyan
One point is all the Cardinals need to clinch the top spot, but it is against a team they historically struggle to get anything against. Differences this time around are home ice and rebounding after a tough loss to Colby. The Cardinals don’t wait to the last day to clinch top seed. Wesleyan 2-1

St. Anselm at Southern New Hampshire
The Hawks took the first game of the series, 5-4, and this rivalry for supremacy in Manchester, New Hampshire, is likely to be high-scoring despite the great goaltending of Colin Soucy and Curt Gutting for the Hawks and Penmen, respectively. St. Anselm 5-4

Neumann at Manhattanville
The Valiants took the MAC title last week and now are focused on their position in the UCHC standings. They have won six in a row, but shouldn’t underestimate a competitive Neumann team that would love to play spoiler. An empty-net goal provides the final margin. Manhattanville 5-3

Stonehill at Bryn Athyn
The Skyhawks and the Lions will both be looking to end their season on a positive note in the weekend two-game set. Stonehill has only played four games on Friday night, and they are 2-2-0 in those games. It will be a one-goal game going the visitors’ way. Stonehill 4-3

Saturday, Feb. 16

New England College at No. 10 Hobart
After a tough regular season in the NEHC, neither team likes their first-round matchup in the conference tournament. It is the dreaded No. 4 versus No. 5 game, and the Statesmen would like to show why home ice matters against a tough Pilgrims squad looking for the upset. It may need overtime for the home team to advance. Hobart 3-2

Wilkes at Utica
The Pioneers may need this one to take the regular season crown and top seed, so expect the team to be ready to go against a Wilkes team that played them very tough way back in December. It is close again, and maybe a playoff preview. Utica 3-2

Salve Regina at No. 13 University of New England
Way back in November, these teams split the opening two games of the season and now face each other with first place in the CCC on the line. The Seahawks seem to have found their game in their recent five-game win streak and would like to repeat the result from Nov. 3, 2018, where they won on the road. This is another game that likely needs extra time to decide a winner. Salve Regina 4-3

No. 3 Oswego at Plattsburgh
The Lakers will want to send a message with the possibility that these two teams could meet again in the SUNYAC playoffs. The first game between the teams was a 4-0 win at home, so expect the Cardinals to play things tighter at home. One more save for Richer than Poreda is the difference. Oswego 2-1

The final standings are all on the line, and it is great to see the number of scheduled matchups that find No. 1 playing No. 2 for bragging rights and seeding. “Drop the Puck!”