Last Week: 7-5-1
On the Season: 122-62-26 (.643)
This Week’s Picks:
Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23
Holy Cross vs. AIC - The Yellow Jackets are one of the hottest teams in the league while the Crusaders had a huge stumble on Tuesday, a 7-3 loss to previously winless Sacred Heart. I’m reversing my trend of picking home teams in home-and-home series and going with the visitor each night. My reasoning? Holy Cross is motivated to put behind its poor showing against SHU, and AIC goalie Ben Meisner often plays his best in hostile territory. Holy Cross wins Friday; AIC wins Saturday.
Connecticut at Army – The Black Knights have been in a slump, but are still in the hunt thanks to a strong start to the season. They’re traditionally tougher at home and should take at least a point against a UConn team that’s fighting for a first-round bye. I’m going with a split. Army wins Friday; UConn wins Saturday.
Mercyhurst vs. Niagara – Despite already wrapping up the regular season title, the Purple Eagles have a lot to play for: they’re 10th in the PairWise and will be eligible for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if they don’t stumble. Mercyhurst was swept last weekend at home and looks to regroup before a first-round bye slips away. But with leading scorer Giancarlo Iuorio back I’m going with a Niagara sweep.
Air Force at Rochester Institute of Technology – After a rough start, the Tigers are 10-5-1 after an overtime loss to Air Force on Dec. 5. But the Falcons are one of the hottest teams in college hockey with just two losses since the first of the year. Air Force needs three points this weekend to lock up a first-round bye and I think they will get exactly that. But I can’t pick ties, so I’m going with an Air Force sweep.
Robert Morris vs. Canisius - Other teams in the league are hoping for a split in this series, because a sweep would put either squad in good position to challenge for a top-four finish. The teams have typically played close games with the home team coming out on top, so that’s what I’m calling for. Canisius wins Friday; Robert Morris wins Saturday.
Sacred Heart vs. Bentley – The Pioneers are going to finish last and travel to the fifth-place team for a first-round playoff series in two weeks. In the meantime, they get to play spoiler with two games against Bentley, one with Holy Cross and a pair with Connecticut to close out the season. Bentley looks likes it’s working itself out of a late-season funk. The Falcons took three points against Army last weekend after dropping the five games prior to that. These teams get physical when they get together, so expect a hard-fought series with the Falcons coming out on top. Bentley sweeps.
Monday, Feb. 25
Sacred Heart at Holy Cross – This is the second makeup game in a series that was cancelled two weeks ago due to weather. My original pick was a Holy Cross sweep, but the Pioneers have already spoiled that with a win last Tuesday in the first makeup game. I have Holy Cross winning this one.
Tuesday, Feb. 26
Army at American International – This is another makeup game and once played will give all 12 teams two game left in the regular season. I picked AIC to win this one two weeks ago.
Feel free to chime in by posting your picks in the comments and follow me on Twitter @chrislerch for updates throughout the weekend.