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Last week, I finished on the plus side in picks, but not by much with a 5-3-1 record. For the season, my overall record now sits at 28-12-5 (.674) — not bad with the overall competitiveness seen year-to-date.

This week, I am going off the board a bit in picking some games with some clear marquee value. Not only that, you will notice a pattern in my preference for the visiting team this weekend. Unlike the NFL and even the NHL, I am not sure the home ice advantage has been such a valuable asset for many teams this season — just ask Colby. That said, it comes down to being ready to play and wanting it more, so with that, here are my picks for the week, ready to go!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Norwich vs. Babson
It’s always a great matchup between these two teams, regardless of the records. Add in an afternoon start in a rink set-up on the field at Fenway Park and you have an event. Once the game gets inside the glass, I expect the team that has been most consistent in all phases of the game this season to add a new venue to their list of victorious games. The Cadets are healthy and show it at the old ballpark. Norwich 4-1

Bowdoin vs. Wesleyan
Both teams are finding their strides early in January. With Henry Matheson and Daniel Weiniger back on the ice and scoresheet, the Polar Bears have better balance in scoring than the Cardinals. Last week, Bowdoin hung a seven spot on Amherst and then five goals on Hamilton. This is a good test for both teams as a benchmark game, and I like the experience wearing black and white in this one. An empty-net goal could be the final margin in this one. Bowdoin 5-3

Plattsburgh vs. Middlebury
The Cardinals have shown themselves to be very resilient and disciplined in recent matchups with Castleton and Norwich. After picking the Spartans twice to upend the SUNYAC powerhouse and coming up short, I have learned my lesson here. The Panthers are playing OK, but OK isn’t good enough between these two rivals. It’s another nail-biter in Vermont, as is always the case between these two schools. Plattsburgh 3-2

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Southern Maine vs. New England College
This ECAC East matchup could be a preview of who ends up in the third place position come playoff time. The Pilgrims are coming off two difficult overtime losses to start off the new year, while Southern Maine tries to build off a solid performance in its 3-0 win over Colby last week. Both teams have played a lot of tight one-goal games in recent weeks — same this week, with the extra goal coming for the Huskies. USM 3-2

Hamilton vs. Tufts
If you are a fan of great goaltending, this matchup showcases two of the best in NESCAC. Scott Barchard of Tufts has established his reputation among the conference and nation’s best, while Hamilton’s Joe Quattrocchi is garnering his fair share of attention this season. The Continentals just seem to play very well on the road, and the offensive combination of Michael DiMare and Anthony Scarpino can sneak just enough pucks by Barchard to gain the two points. Hamilton 2-1

Amherst vs. Connecticut College
So clearly, Amherst and Jonathan Larose surrendering seven goals at Bowdoin last week is an anomaly. And even in giving up all those goals, it was a 4-4 tie at the end of the second period. The Lord Jeffs bounced back with a more typical 3-2 win at Colby on Saturday, so expect the strong goaltending, defense and opportunistic offense to re-assert itself against the Camels on the road this weekend. Amherst 4-1

I can’t wait for another doubleheader of outdoor hockey on Friday, but whether you are watching indoors or out, enjoy the great conference play this weekend, as the number of weekends continues to dwindle toward the all-important time of the year.

Home or away, points are points — go get some! Drop the puck!