College hockey game picks, D-III East: March 6, 2020

JR Barone will be an offensive leader for Plymouth State as they try to repeat as champions of the MASCAC tournament. (Photo – Mike Gridley)

It is finally the weekend teams all aspired to way back in the fall of 2019. Championship weekend is here and there is hope for all the remaining teams to hoist their conference championship trophy. No need for hype – coaches likely focused on trying to keep teams on an even keel for the big games ahead. I went all in on the playoff games last week and finished with a mark of 13-5-0 (.722) which was a solid week. The overall season record now stands at 96-47-9 (.661) and I am working on some solid positive momentum entering the championship games and looking forward to competing with my western counterpart for the NCAA tournament.

Here are this week’s picks for the trophy games in the East:

Friday, March 6, 2020

No. 15 Wilkes @ No. 3 Utica
The championship series will again be hosted by Utica who realized the downside of the format losing the title to Manhattanville in a mini-game last season. This team remembers and delivers a key win on Friday to put the pressure back on the visitors for Saturday – Utica, 4-2

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Franklin Pierce @ Stonehill
Both teams earned their way to the title game with overtime wins as the visitors last week by identical 4-3 scores. Call it serendipity but this one also finishes by the same score in overtime giving the Skyhawks the NE-10 title – Stonehill, 4-3

Wentworth @ No. 12 Endicott
The last time that Wentworth won a title and appeared in the NCAA tournament, current Endicott coach RJ Tolan was the head coach for the Leopards. The Gulls have had superb goaltending from Conor O’Brien to go with timely scoring and that is just enough to get by Connor Carbo and a very determined Wentworth squad looking to complete their Cinderella story – Endicott, 2-1

Massachusetts-Dartmouth @ Plymouth State
The Panthers have dominated the Corsairs winning all three regular season match-ups including one at home with a goal differential of 7-3. This one will be closer as Daniel Davidson has emerged as a big game goaltender for UMD. Look for an overtime thriller and a big goal off the stick of Myles Abbate or Jake Gerbner – Plymouth State, 3-2

No. 5 Hobart @ No. 1 Norwich
The Cadets are on a roll that very few teams have ever seen as they are unbeaten in their last 17 games and unscored upon in their last 8 games. They will not take Hobart lightly and take advantage of Tom Aubrun’s stellar netminding and a special team’s goal for the NEHC title – Norwich, 2-0

Oswego @ No. 2 Geneseo
The Knights are on a mission to get back to the NCAA tournament as repeating SUNYAC champions. The Lakers have found late season magic and aren’t worrying about the location of the game as a large group of seniors is hungry for a conference title. Too much big game experience for Geneseo comes to the fore in a very close and hard fought game that needs an empty-net goal for margin – Geneseo, 3-1

Wesleyan @ No. 9 Williams
The Ephs earned the hosting of the final four and won’t waste the opportunity to play for the championship in front of the home faithful. The Cardinals will be a very tough out but Williams finds a way to manufacture the winning goal in overtime – Williams, 3-2

Hamilton v. No. 8 Trinity
The Bantams have rediscovered their offensive game but will need to tighten up the defensive end if they want to advance to the NESCAC title game on Sunday. It’s a comfortable, if there is such a thing, low-scoring win for the Bantams to play for the title – Trinity, 2-1

No. 15 Wilkes v. No. 3 Utica
Game two is going to be all about a fast start from the Pioneer offense and the reliable play of Gianluca Baggetta in shutting down a potent Wilkes attack. No repeat of last year’s mini-game loss at home as the Pioneers hold on for the UCHC crown – Utica, 2-1

Sunday, March 8, 2020

No. 9 Williams v. No. 8 Trinity
This game is a projection based only on successful picks for Saturday so the combatants may not be the top two seeded teams as predicted. That said it makes sense they should get to the championship game and while Williams has home ice, Trinity has won there this season and eke out a NESCAC title late – Trinity, 2-1

It’s all about the pursuit of championships – “Drop the Puck!”