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College Hockey:
Atlantic Hockey Picks Dec. 28-31

Last time: 2-1
On the season: 61-32-119(.629)

It’s tournament time! For many teams, it’s the last chance to play out of conference this season. Fans and players love tournaments because there’s a little extra something to play for. That said, with Festivus still on my mind, here are my list of grievances:

The number of tournaments has fallen. Five years ago, there were 20 in-season Division I tournaments. This year there are 12. To compare, Division III has 17. There were zero Thanksgiving tournaments this season.

Of the 12 tournaments, four have gone to a fixed-matchup no-championship game format, including the Mariucci Classic beginning with this season. In the past the host Minnesota Gophers would play in the late game on the second day no matter what, but at least the two semifinal winners met in the championship even if it was the early game.

I think this takes away something, especially if the team that “wins” the tournament based on tiebreakers is already on the way home when the all-tournament team is announced and the trophy is presented in absentia.

“I don’t like (the pre-arranged schedule),” said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley, whose Colonials are hosting the inaugural Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh this weekend. “I think it takes something away. The semifinals and finals-based system allows us to be in the environment of a league championship, an NCAA regional, or a Frozen Four.”

Six of the 12 tournaments are “Classic”. Let’s retire “Classic” along with “Epic”, “Fail, “Fiscal Cliff” and “YOLO”.

 

This Week’s Picks
Friday, Dec. 28
Penn State vs. Robert Morris – This is the first semifinal of the Three Rivers Classic and a rematch of their meeting on Dec.15. Robert Morris won that game and I think the Colonials will do it again. RMU wins.

Saturday, Dec. 29
Niagara at Bowling Green – This is a chance for the 17th ranked Purple Eagles to show what they can do out of conference. I think they’ll cement that ranking with a victory. Niagara wins.

Air Force at Minnesota – This Mariucci Classic semifinal should be fun. The teams have met twice before with Minnesota winning 4-3 in an NCAA first round game, and then allowing late goal in a 2-2 tie in this same tournament. Both games were in 2007. Air Force coach Frank Serratore’s son Tom is a junior forward at Minnesota. The Gophers are 5-1-1 at home this season and should prevail. Minnesota wins.

Miami/Ohio State at vs. Robert Morris- RMU has already defeated and tied Ohio State this season, but I’m picking the Colonials to drop the second game no matter which opponent. Miami/Ohio State wins.

American International at Connecticut – This game, a semifinal in the UConn Hockey Classic, doubles as an Atlantic Hockey conference tilt. I’m picking the home team in a close contest.UConn wins.

 

Sunday, Dec. 30
Yale vs. Holy Cross – The game is being played at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass. Both these teams have been hot and cold this season, but I think that Yale pulls away in this one. Yale wins.

Bentley at Massachusetts-Lowell – Bentley hasn’t been able to defeat the River Hawks in four previous attempts, and Lowell is coming off back-to-back shutouts. I like the home team in this one. Massachusetts-Lowell wins.

Alabama-Huntsville vs. Air Force – This is the 60th meeting between the former CHA rivals. The Chargers lead the all-time series 38-18-3 but the Falcons have been the better team in recent years. Air Force wins.

American International vs. Brown/Minnesota State – I like both the Bears and the Mavericks against the Yellow Jackets. Brown/Minnesota State win.

Brown/Minnesota State at Connecticut - Again, I think the ECAC or WCHA team get a win. Brown/Minnesota State win.

 

Saturday, Dec. 29 and Sunday, Dec. 30
Army at Canisius – This is the only series in any league with four points on the line this weekend. I can’t pick ties, but I have a feeling one of these games ends deadlocked. But for the record, I’m picking the Golden Griffins to sweep. Canisius sweeps.

 

Sunday, Dec. 31
Sacred Heart at Rensselaer – I think RPI romps on home ice. Rensselaer wins.

 

Feel free to post your picks in the comments and follow me on Twitter at @chrislerch for updates throughout the weekend.

 

 

 

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