Here comes crunch time.
The final few weeks of the regular season are upon us, and teams from both the ECAC Northeast and the MASCAC are going to begin fighting it out for playoff positioning. Three weeks remain in the ECAC Northeast schedule, and entering Thursday’s games, a point separated first-place Curry from second-place Johnson and Wales.
The MASCAC has less than a month remaining in its regular-season standings, and entering Thursday’s games, the standings were just as tight, as three points separated first place (Plymouth State and Salem State) from fourth (Fitchburg State).
As for the last round of picks? I finished 1-4-1 last week — proving yet again I have no future in prognostication — bringing my season total to 33-22-8.
Curry at Johnson and Wales, 6 p.m. Saturday
Saturday’s game between the Colonels and the Wildcats matches up two of the nation’s leading scorers among defensemen (prior to Thursday’s games): Johnson and Wales’ Domenic Recchia (two goals, 21 assists) and Curry’s Ryan Barlock (five goals, 16 assists). Curry 4-3
Western New England at Nichols, 4:40 p.m. Saturday
Boosted by an upset of Johnson and Wales last weekend, Nichols enters the weekend in third place in the conference, tied with Western New England. The Bison have won three in a row — all ECAC Northeast games, valuable points in the standings — while Western New England entered Thursday’s game at Wentworth 3-5 since the start of the new year. Nichols 5-4
Suffolk at Becker, 8:40 p.m. Saturday
Entering the week, Becker has won four of its last five games, including a 3-2 overtime win Sunday against Salve Regina, and Becker sophomore Korby Anderson has three game-winning goals. Suffolk entered the week as the nation’s most penalized team (averaging 26.8 minutes a game), and hasn’t won a game since Nov. 5 — a 4-1 win over Becker. Becker 4-1
Plymouth State at Fitchburg State, 4 p.m. Saturday
Plymouth State is tied for first with Salem State in the MASCAC standings, just one point ahead of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, while Fitchburg is in fourth. However, entering Thursday’s game against Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Plymouth State is winless in its last three games. Plymouth State 4-2
Massachusetts-Dartmouth at Framingham State, 7:40 p.m. Saturday
Like Plymouth State, Massachusetts-Dartmouth is in a bit of a slide, having lost two of its last three games, entering Thursday. Framingham State needs one more win to match its total of four from last season. Massachusetts-Dartmouth freshman Steven Ginand is the MASCAC’s leading scorer among defensemen with five goals and eight assists. Massachusetts-Dartmouth 5-3
Salem State at Worcester State, 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Salem State enters the weekend as one of the hottest teams in the MASCAC, on a five-game unbeaten streak going into Thursday’s game against Framingham State. Worcester State is winless in four of its last five games, but goalie Bryan Kalczynski remains among the nation’s top 10 in saves percentage (.934). Salem State 3-2