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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Elite 8 Predictions Week 10 (2/18-2/24)

I am going to stick to the 8 games per week. If you would like a "Twitter Pick" tweet @cthshockey and I'll send you a pick there!

RECORD: 44-19-4   LAST WEEK: 4-4

Elite Predictions: Mark these on the calendar

2/18 Notre Dame-Fairfield @ Darien 6:00 @ Darien Ice Rink
Maybe I should stay away from this one for NDF's sake. The Lancers have completely turned their season around since losing to Greenwich back on 1/28, a game I attended. They've run off six straight and seemed to have sharpened up their play on the defensive end of the ice allowing only 3 goals against their last four games. Darien couldn't be hotter as well. They are 8-0-1 since losing to Ridgefield. While Prep has really been the only real quality opponent out of the whole lot, going 9 games without a loss is eye opening. Both teams get contributions from up and down the lineup and NDF has certainly benefited from getting some players back from transfer rule ineligibility. I'm going to go with Darien with great hesitation. I have enjoyed being a bystander with NDF's recent resurgence but I'm also a believer a team needs to come down from a high in order to achieve an ultimate goal. This seems like a bump in the road game for an NDF squad that is going to go far in March. That said, take nothing away from this Darien group headed by a top line that's combined for over 75 points this year featuring Jack Pardue, Craig Miller and Jake Kirby. Darien in a toss up. Wave 3-2
2/18 Fairfield Co-op @ Branford 6:00 @ Northford Ice Pavilion
A nice little D2 tilt here featuring a dominant power looking to rebound from a loss and an up and coming, under the radar group looking to notch another big win. Branford is coming off a loss to Suffield-Granby-WL, only their second of the year. Fairfield just went toe to toe with #1 Greenwich, losing 2-1 their last time out. This one is even, as much as I want to say Branford is the superior team, and they probably are on paper, this should be a close game. This game pits two potential D2 Player of the Year candidates in Branford's Tyler Criscuolo and Fairfield's Jake Fuss. As far as a prediction, I'm going to go with a bounce back win for Branford. Like the Darien/NDF game, I could see this going either way but, at least at this point, Branford is too good of a team to lose back to backs. Branford 4-3
2/18 North Haven @ Masuk 7:30 @ The Rinks at Shelton
D3 #1 vs. competitive D2 squad. North Haven needed an OT goal to top Watertown-Pomperaug last time out. Masuk is has won 10 of 11 with their only loss coming to D2 power Branford. They are more than a strong D3 team, they are a team that could compete with some of D2's best, including a team like North Haven, that has gotten strong goaltending from Graziano, but at times is limited in their scoring potential. These should feed into Masuk's strength, getting a lead, building a lead and holding a lead. I don't know if it's an upset for not, but I'm calling for Masuk to win this game. Panthers 4-3
2/21 Notre Dame-West Haven @ Fairfield Prep 1:00 @ Wonderland of Ice
As good of a rivalry as any, Prep and NDWH is always a good time out at the rink. Prep beat NDWH 7-2 earlier this is in a game that initially was much closer than the final tally. Prep is 8-3-1 vs. NDWH over the last five seasons and comes in feeling good about a win over Ridgefield. But this is not the Jesuits we've come to know and, for many, despise. This group has struggled in state, losing to Darien (twice), Xavier, and NDF. Normally, the Jesuits struggles, if any, have come against traditional New England, out of state powers. To sum up, Prep is mortal this year. Still, they are feared. NDWH, more than probably any other team would love to take them down. They are lead by Joe Ansaldo and a cast of under the radar, hard working skaters. While it's likely we'll see Prep's Jack Taubl in net, Coach Tim Belcher has had quite the platoon situation going on in the NDWH crease with Wade Conlan and Conor Hylton. At the end of the day, Prep at Wonderland is too scary to pick against, especially when it seems that they are growing more hungry by the day. Prep 5-3
2/21 Woodstock Academy @ Joel Barlow 2:00 @ Danbury Ice Arena
These are two teams desperately fighting for home ice and a possible 6-8 seed in the D3 state tournament this year. It would be a feat for either team so this game takes on special significance. Woodstock has lost 3 of 5 coming in but has still achieved some great things in only their second year as a varsity program. They rely heavily on sophomores Ryan Black and Nathan Deluca. The pair accounts for more than half of the team's points on the year (54/101). In net, the Centaurs have utilized a two headed monster system with great success. Both junior Tucker Johns and sophomore Cal WIlcox have shown that they can hang this year. Barlow will come in off a battle with Shepaug, a team with the chops to beat able to take them down. Barlow is still sitting over .500 at 8-7 but still hasn't logged that big in state win. They are lead by one of the strongest all around players at the D3 level, sophomore Billy Berry (33 points). He is anchored by his older brother Charlie Berry (28 points) and fellow sophomore sensation Kyle Converse (29 points). The Falcons, too, have used two goalies this year, though junior Connor Jones has seen the bulk of the action. I think Barlow is able to finally get that win over a state tournament quality team. Their fire power is elite and if they can key Woodstock's bread and butter, they should emerge victorious. Barlow 4-2
2/21 Ridgefield @ Hamden 2:30 @ Lou Astorino Rink
Man, has Hamden been struggling. After a 7-1-1 start, Hamden has gone 1-5 with the lone win coming against East Haven. Now, heading into this Saturday tilt Hamden will be coming off games against Malden Catholic (MA's #2) and either Springfield Cathedral (MA's #1) or St. Mary's (MA). So, a win against any of those teams can do wonders for confidence. But that's a tall task. Ridgefield hasn't been as electric of late as they were earlier this year and they'll be coming off a tough Wednesday night game against NDWH. The Tigers are coming off a 2-2 stretch with losses to Prep and Greenwich. I think if I was to pick today I would pick the Tigers and because I don't have a fortune teller at my disposal, I'll have to stick with that. That said, if RIdgefield continues to struggle against NDWH and Hamden can notch a win in Mass, I would lean more toward the Dragons. Even if that happens, however, I'm sticking with my original pick. Ridgefield 5-3
2/21 Suffield-Granby-WL @ Northwest Catholic 7:25 @ ISCC
Suffield-Granby-WL is red hot and are finally playing the way many people predicted they would at the beginning of the year. Jake King is making his senior year memorable with 27 points though 16 games. Senior Shane Kertanis is also playing at an elite level in net and there are plenty of complementary scorers on this group able to take charge any night. This is a team that has what it takes to beat a mid tier D1 team like NWC, now. They didn't a few weeks ago and they lost to the Indians 4-1 at the Twin. I think this time around will be closer. Since then, NWC is 1-3 with their lone win coming in a 2-0 victory over Milford. I'm calling for the Wildcat upset. I have picked NWC on many occasion over the past few years and have been burned by them, so they'll likely win and continue that trend. Like most of my picks, this game could easily go either way. But I'll go with the D2 co-op. SGWL 3-2
2/23 Westhill @ New Milford 8:00 @ Canterbury Rink
Westhill is everyone's sleeper at the D3 level this year. They play almost everyone competitively and play a very sound system. New Milford isn't the power they were to start the year. With recent losses to Wilton and BBD, the Wave isn't exactly crashing with crisp consistency. But all is certainly not lost from this 10-4-2 team. They still have set themselves up nicely for the tourney but have to be very careful not to overlook this Vikings group. I think NM will do enough to avoid a third upset loss this year. Wave 5-3

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