Game Picks, D-III: November 28, 2019

Goalie Kurt Gutting leads the Penmen in pursuit of the Manchester PAL-Stovepipe Tournament title (Photo by SNHU Athletics)

With so few non-conference games available on schedules, the Thanksgiving week offers a plethora of tournaments and power conference action to bolster the resumes of teams looking to compete on the national stage in the spring. Hoisting some hard-earned hardware in the first half will also bolster morale for teams in search of championship designations. My earlier dismal pick week was put behind me as a better 6-3-0 (.667) record improved the season total to 21-13-2 (.611). I am still a ways away from my targeted 70% threshold and now the trick is to pick from some very difficult games this week. I am picking all first-round tournament games and a couple of special nonconference battles coming this weekend. Here are the picks:

Friday, November 29, 2019

Primelink Great Northern Shootout at Norwich
Middlebury vs. No. 1 Norwich
This is a great rivalry in or out of tournament play. The Panthers are off to a good start in their opening two weekends of play but face a Cadet squad that has been stellar in all phases of their game early. Tom Aubrun has been nothing short of incredible in goal and the special teams dominate. It’s low-scoring and close but it’s the Cadets playing for the title on Saturday – Norwich 2-1

No. 3 Wisconsin – Eau Claire @ Plattsburgh
The BluGolds are this year’s western participant in the Primelink and they are not hospitable guests in facing the hosts from Plattsburgh. Jimmy Poreda keeps things close, but it should be a top-five ranked battle for the title on Saturday –                     Wisconsin – Eau Claire 4-2

WYSB/Catamount Radio Invitational at Castleton
Fredonia v. No. 15 Curry
This game figures to be a tight contest but the Colonels seem to find a way to win games late this season (as evidenced by Tuesday’s win at Stonehill) and will need the added empty-net goal to insure their spot in the championship game on Saturday – Curry 5-3

Nazareth @ Castleton
The Spartans are the host team and the crowd will definitely be supporting the Spartans. Nazareth has been a bit up and down but will not need any extra motivation in playing to earn a spot in the title game. Don’t be surprised to see overtime in this one – Nazareth 3-2

Utica Thanksgiving Showcase
No. 7 Salve Regina @ No. 9 Oswego
This tournament has four very good teams and anyone of them could win the title. Match-up of teams going in different directions to open and it’s the Seahawks who keep the positive momentum going over a tentative looking Lakers squad that has lost two in a row. Not going to be easy but look for an OT thriller – Salve Regina 3-2

Plymouth State @ No. 12 Utica
The Pioneers are coming off a loss to Elmira so rebounding at home against a stout Panther squad will get the fans going at “The Aud.” They will have to get to Andreas Pettersson early but expect a high-scoring affair going the home team’s way – Utica 5-4

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Steve Hoar Invitational at Becker
Franklin Pierce @ Becker
The Ravens have found their offense with 12 goals in their last two games, and will need to jump out early on the Hawks to take control of the game. They start very fast and finish strong to move to Sunday’s championship game – Franklin Pierce 5-3

Wilkes v. Suffolk
The visitors from the UCHC will need to get the offense going against the defensive minded Rams. A lot of talent upfront for the Colonels who break open a close game in the final forty minutes – Wilkes 5-2

Manchester PAL/Stovepipe Tournament at SNHU
Morrisville @ Southern New Hampshire
The host Penmen can beat you a lot of different ways but virtually all include the opposition trying to solve goaltender Kurt Gutting. He plays big in big games and this tournament is important to the host team – SNHU 4-3

Massachusetts-Dartmouth vs. Wentworth
The Corsairs face a Wentworth team that has been unlucky in CCC play including several overtime losses. This game follows a similar pattern with the Leopards rallying to win in overtime for a change in “puck-luck” – Wentworth 4-3

Skidmore Invitational Tournament
Brockport @ Skidmore
The Golden Eagles have been good in the first half and goalie Matt Schneider has been a big part of their success. Brandon Kasel has been equally good in net for the Thoroughbreds and outduels his counterpart to play for the championship on Sunday – Skidmore 2-1

Buffalo State vs. Tufts
The Bengals are coming off a big weekend sweep of Geneseo and Brockport so don’t expect them to take the Jumbos lightly in this opening round game. Vasjonkin and Remers lead a potent offense that gets the win – Buffalo State 5-3

St. Anselm Thanksgiving Tournament
Wesleyan @ St. Anselm
The Cardinals didn’t get of the gates fast but found more of their expected level of play last weekend. Look for Tim Sestak and Walker Harris to give the Hawks fits and earn a spot in the championship game – Wesleyan 4-2

No. 5 Trinity vs. Potsdam
Tournament hockey generally means low-scoring contests and the Bantams are quite adept at playing that style of game in front of goaltender Tedy Loughborough. Trinity already has played a few 2-1 games so what’s one more – Trinity 2-1

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Non-conference Games
No. 14 Williams @ No. 4 Geneseo
It doesn’t seem like there are enough NESCAC v. SUNYAC match-ups during the season but if I had to pick a must-see one this would be at the top of the list. Looking for an up-and-down game with lots of offense that the home team emerges with the win – Geneseo 6-3

Massachusetts-Boston @ Bowdoin
The Beacons haven’t quite got their game going yet but with players like Nick Albano and Nolan Redler it should be a matter of when not if. Bowdoin hopes the ‘when “ is not 12/1 at “The Sid” but unfortunately, it is – UMB 5-3

What more can one ask for over Thanksgiving weekend? Great leftovers and even better college hockey tournaments to delight the senses – “Drop the Puck!”