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The picks are still coming in my way after going 3-1-2 on the final weekend prior to the semester break. Those picks built my season record to 16-7-3 (.692), with a challenging group of tournament and nonconference games to choose from this New Year’s weekend.

There are some intriguing match-ups, but in order to spread the wealth, I am going make a total of 10 predictions where each team only appears once in the mix. No, I am not shying away a marquee Castleton vs. Plattsburgh match-up that likely will be the final of the Cardinal Classic. I am just trying to keep the interest across a schedule that basically carries through the week and right into league play starting on the weekend of January 6.

Enjoy the New Year’s festivities, and if your plans include watching a bit of puck play, then all the better to ring in 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Lake Forest vs. Amherst
It’s bad enough to travel across the country to play in the East over the New Year. It’s worse your team has scored just 16 goals in 10 games this season and you are playing against one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Don’t think there is much drama here unless the partying in Amherst has already commenced. Amherst 6-1

Salve Regina vs. St. Michael’s
The Seahawks have already beaten Colby this season in a close game at the Bowdoin/Colby Face-Off Challenge over Thanksgiving, but that is also the last time Salve Regina has won a game, as they have since gone 0-4 and been outscored 28-4 in those games. The Purple Knights are hosting, so there is one advantage for the home team, and even though they have been goal-challenged, St. Mike’s should get it done on Friday. St. Michael’s 3-2

Utica vs. Castleton
This game is a very intriguing match-up, and likely presents the Spartans with their toughest opponent outside of league rival Norwich. Utica can score, and has been very strong defensively this season, giving up just over two goals per game this season.  Unfortunately for them, the Spartans can make two goals stand up in the win column. Castleton 2-1

Babson vs. Plattsburgh
The other match-up in the Cardinal Classic could be equally as intriguing as the Utica/Castleton game, depending upon which Babson team shows up coming out of the break. The Beavers have struggled, giving up a lot of goals (47) in their first 10 games, so coach Jamie Rice’s squad is going to need to tighten things up against a hard-working and opportunistic Plattsburgh team. Score is close but not in Babson’s favor. Plattsburgh 3-2

Connecticut College vs. Oswego
Last season, the Lakers headed into their own tournament undefeated and maybe looking past a young Hamilton squad that upset them in the first round. What’s the point? I wouldn’t want to be Connecticut College this year, because I am sure that all of the analogies about a weaker team from NESCAC coming in are going to be made in the Oswego locker room. No upset this year. Oswego 5-1

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Skidmore vs. Middlebury
The Thoroughbreds head into Middlebury catching the Panthers a bit stung following their back-to-back losses to Hamilton and Amherst to close out the semester. The Panthers’ offense has had a chance to stew on missed opportunities, so expect Colin Bessey and the Skidmore defense to be very busy on Saturday. Middlebury 5-3

Southern Maine vs. Potsdam
While Southern Maine probably didn’t want the semester to interrupt its three-game winning streak, it returns to a worthy challenger that is looking to stop a two-game skid that ended their first half. The Bears lost two tough games to Oswego and Utica, so expect this one to be tight as well, not as low scoring as you might think. Southern Maine 4-3

Hamilton vs. Curry
Curry has quietly raced off to a great start behind senior forward Peyden Benning, who passed the century mark in points for his career in the first half of the season. Hamilton is still looking for game-to-game consistency for coach Rob Haberbusch. The Colonels would like to build on their seven-game win streak and do so. Curry 3-1

Monday, January 2, 2012

Colby vs. Salem State
The Mules need to set a better tempo for the second half, and face a tough opponent on the road in trying to do that. The key for Colby is the game IS on the road, where they have fared much better than in Waterville. This one will probably be a one-goal affair and fairly low-scoring. Colby 3-2

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bowdoin vs. Wentworth
If you like offense and skill players, this may be the match-up of the weekend. Skylur Jameson and Casey Shade lead a potent Wentworth attack, while defensemen Jordan Lalor and Tim McGarry spearhead the attack for the Polar Bears. I would not want to be between the pipes in either goal, as there will be lots of rubber flying in this one. Richard Nerland has been solid in net for Bowdoin in the first half, and that’s the difference here. Bowdoin 5-3

I hope 2011 has been memorable for everyone and 2012 brings great things on the ice and off. Enjoy the weekend festivities and forget the dropping ball in Time’s Square — drop the puck!