Three things: Sometimes ya need a little heart

On Friday night’s late night hours, Atlantic Hockey fans and supporters could check scoreboard and message forums to get a pulse on the way things had gone throughout the league. In one of the results, Sacred Heart hosted Canisius, losing 3-0.

At first glance, it was a game where the Pioneers played well but wound up with the game getting away from them. Even though they outshot the Golden Griffins, 29-21, including a 23-16 margin over the second and third periods, SHU failed to convert on the power play, missing on five opportunities against a team entering the weekend at just over 50% on the kill. Unable to score, Canisius scored at the 7:29 mark of the third, then added a power play goal and an empty netter in a tightly-fought result.

That didn’t happen again on Saturday. Sacred Heart bounced back with a big time edge, potting three goals in the first period en route to a 4-0 victory. It was a complete victory, one that saw them turn around and pound a gritty Canisius squad with a 30-18 shot advantage, including a 13-5 second period disparity.

Sacred Heart chased Reilly Turner, who picked up the victory in net on Friday, during the first intermission on Saturday. Brett Magnus, meanwhile, solidified his stance as the next great AHC netminder in his second shutout of the season, improving his goals against average to 1.32 and his save percentage to .942.

As expected from the preseason, Sacred Heart is turning into an incredibly tough out, now winning three of their last four. They’ll take on Holy Cross in a home-and-home this weekend.

Something to lean on

The Bentley power play made itself right at home against Army West Point on Sunday. Playing in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, the Falcons went a perfect 4-for-4 on man-up opportunities. In a game featuring 70 shots on goal, Bentley scored three times in the first period and twice in the third period to take a 6-2 victory.

It was prototypical use of the power play by the Falcons, who have become known as one of the premier special teams programs in college hockey. Down 2-0 after the second period on Saturday afternoon at West Point, Max French welcomed himself back to the lineup with a power play goal to cut the lead to 2-1. He would score later in the period to tie the game up at 2-2.

On Sunday, French scored another power play goal, joined twice by Kyle Schmidt and once by freshman Cody DePourcq.

After a weekend sweep to Mercyhurst to open the season, Bentley’s now undefeated in their last four games. They have a short rest before they play the third of five games against Hockey East this year, a Wednesday tilt against Merrimack.

Nerves of steel

If we’re talking about a team that showed its ability to persevere, the buck stops (no surprise) with Robert Morris. Despite being outshot on Friday, 34-18, by Michigan at Yost Arena, the Colonials led by a 3-1 margin. Then they gave up a couple of power play goals in a four goal frame, losing, 5-3, to the Wolverines.

Like Sacred Heart, the Colonials came back on Saturday and put together an A+, bounce back effort. They scored three times in the first period and led, 4-0, after the second, but this time they put the clamps on Michigan, holding them scoreless in the third en route to a shutout victory.

The split pushed Robert Morris up to 18th in the way-too-early-to-tell-anything Pairwise Rankings. Coupled with Holy Cross’ win over Brown and Mercyhurst’s win over Ohio State, Atlantic Hockey had one of its most successful non-conference weekends this season – with more games on tap this week against Hockey East and the Big Ten.

Atlantic Hockey Picks, Oct. 30-Nov. 4

Last week:

Dan: 10-2-1
Chris: 10-2-1

On the season:

Dan: 27-11-3 (.695)
Chris: 29-9-3 (.744)


This Week’s Picks:

Friday, October 30 and Saturday, October 31
Rochester Institute of Technology at American International
Dan: The youth movement is very much on in the 413, where eight of AIC’s top ten scorers are either freshmen or sophomores. Even though they’re very raw, they’re long on talent, which means as they get more experience, they’ll make strides. Unfortunately, it’s still early enough where contrasting that against the deep, experienced roster of the defending champs means they’ll take some more bumps long the way. RIT sweeps.
Chris: These teams are a combined 0-10-1 so far. RIT is riding a 12-game unbeaten streak against AIC and I like that to continue. RIT sweeps.

Canisius at Sacred Heart
Dan: In his first four games, Brett Magnus is sporting a .939 save percentage and a 1.47 GAA. Of the six goals he’s allowed, the majority came against UMass a couple of weeks ago. There’s still time to jump on the bandwagon before the train completely leaves the station. Sacred Heart sweeps.
Chris: Canisius has ended SHU’s season the past two years, and I like the Pioneers to extract some revenge. Key for the Golden Griffins will be getting on the board early – they have been outscored 7-0 so far in the first period. I think they’ll break that streak, but am going with Sacred Heart to sweep.

Niagara vs. Cornell
Dan: It’s opening weekend for Ivy League schools, which means there will be a palpable energy in their games. That kind of emotion is bad news for anyone playing Cornell, who need a bounceback year after going under .500 last season. Cornell sweeps.
Chris: The Purple Eagles host on Friday and then the action shifts to Ithaca on Saturday. Niagara has the advantage of four games under its belt while these are the first two official games of the season for the Big Red. But I still like Cornell to sweep.

Mercyhurst at Ohio State
Dan: One of my good friends is from Ohio, so I’ve been waiting all week to make every possible Ohio reference I could make. I like Mercyhurst a lot, and like Chris mentions, the Lakers gave That Team Up North all they could handle last weekend. Ohio State is really struggling to open the season, but consider those games came against teams ranked third (defending national champion Providence), 12th (Bowling Green), and 15th (Miami). Mercyhurst could very well win one of these, but I’m taking the Buckeyes. Ohio State sweeps.
Chris: Mercyhurst gave Michigan all they it could handle last weekend, and if the Lakers play like that against the winless (0-6) Buckeyes they should come out with at least a split. I’m taking Mercyhurst on Friday and Ohio State on Saturday.

Robert Morris at Michigan
Dan: These are games Robert Morris absolutely has to win if they want to be considered for an at-large selection later in the season. I think that’s a clear message after what happened last year, so I’m going with the Colonials to get at least one of these games. Michigan wins on Friday. RMU wins on Saturday.
Chris: Michigan came away with a pair of hard-fought wins against Mercyhurst last weekend, and I’m predicting the same results. The games will be close, but I’m going with the home team. Michigan sweeps.

Saturday, Oct. 31 and Sunday, Nov. 1
Bentley vs. Army West Point
Dan: Sunday’s Bentley home game is at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, scheduled opposite the NYC Marathon, which runs right by the arena. I’m suggesting people get there incredibly early and take in some of the sights and sounds of the day. As for the games themselves, moving to Brooklyn is a benefit for the Falcons since the Black Knights usually play better on JAR ice against Bentley than at Tate Rink. I’m taking the Falcons to sweep this weekend, but if you get the chance, these will be tightly-played, physical games worth the admission. Bentley sweeps
Chris: The teams will square off Saturday night at West Point and then rise and shine for an 11:15 am contest at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The teams were 1-1-2 against each other last season, but I think Bentley will put two in the win column to open a season series that will conclude the final weekend of the regular season. Bentley sweeps.

Saturday, Oct. 31
Holy Cross at Brown
Dan:  This game will be won on special teams, where Brown went just 10% on the power play last year and 76% on the penalty kill. Through five games, the Crusaders are scoring on the power play at 15%, but their penalty kill is struggling at 68%. I’m taking the home team to come away with the victory on opening night at Meehan Auditorium. Brown wins.
Chris: The Crusaders have already made a trip to Providence, taking on the Friars on Oct. 16. This time they’ll face off with the Bears, who will be playing their first game of the season. I like the Crusaders to pick up a road victory. Holy Cross wins.

Wednesday, Nov. 4
Merrimack at Bentley
Dan: Although they’re in very different leagues in college hockey, the two schools are Division II Northeast-10 Conference rivals. Merrimack may be better equipped to handle the JAR than Northeastern was, but I’ll refute that with this – they also have to go the JAR, with its lack of amenities, midweek through Boston-area traffic. Having done that ride in reverse, it’s as miserable as advertised. Bentley wins.
Chris:Merrimack has been a surprise so far this season, but the JAR is a tough place to play (just ask Northeastern). I’m going with the upset. Bentley wins.

Three Things: It comes down to…

Three things from this past weekend in Atlantic Hockey:

It comes down to…

Air Force coach Frank Serratore is fond of saying that the results of a hockey game usually comes down to special teams and goaltending.

Saturday’s game between Robert Morris and Niagara is a case in point. The Colonials won 8-2 despite being outshot by the host Purple Eagles 36-28. RMU goaltender Terry Shafer made 34 saves for the win.

The other key to the game was a perfect power play for Robert Morris, which converted on all four attempts.

I’m going out on a limb and predicting that RMU’s Greg Gibson will be named Atlantic Hockey’s Player of the Week. Gibson had a hat trick in the game, and a pair of goals the night before in a 3-3 tie with Niagara.

Other examples of the axiom (at least the goaltending part) from this past weekend include:

  • Canisius’ 4-3 win over Holy Cross on Friday. The Golden Griffins were more than doubled up in shots (38-18) by the Crusaders.
  • Mercyhurst defeated Army West Point 4-2 on Friday despite being outshot 39-18, including 33-9 over the final two periods.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology outshot visiting Colgate 46-27 on Saturday, but came away with a 4-3 loss.

Orange is the new gray

RIT President Bill Destler offered a unique challenge to the community concerning the Tiger’s home opener against Colgate this past Saturday: sell the Gene Polisseni Center (4,300) out, and he would have his hair died orange at center ice between the second and third periods.

It worked, and Destler kept his promise (Photo courtesy of RIT).


The sellout wasn’t enough to propel the Tigers to a win, however. As mentioned earlier, RIT dominated the shot chart, but lost 4-3.

Coming back to haunt you?

I know I’m a little early, but keeping the orange motif and looking forward to some tricks and treats next weekend, here’s hoping that a couple of points left on the table don’t come back to haunt Robert Morris.

The Colonials had to settle for a pair of 3-3 ties so far against teams predicted to finish in the bottom half of the standings, Air Force on Oct. 17 and Niagara last Friday. RMU picked up wins in the other half of those weekends, but points in October count as much as the ones in February when everyone is jockeying for final position.

It’s way, way early (three AHC teams haven’t played a conference game yet), but Mercyhurst already has eight points in four games, and ties against teams you’re favored to beat can be costly in the long run.

Atlantic Hockey Picks, Oct. 23-27

Last week:

Dan: 7-4-1
Chris: 8-3-1

On the season:

Dan: 17-9-2 (.643)
Chris: 19-7-2 (.714)


This Week’s Picks:

Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24
Holy Cross at Canisius
Dan: This early in the season, I think neither team is going to be where they may be at the end of the year. In other news, I can give Barry Melrose a run for stating the obvious. Normally, I would say to ride the hotter goalie at this point, but I still can’t really tell who that is. When in doubt, pick the home team. Canisius sweeps.
Chris:I think these will be close games, and my gut tells me Canisius comes away with three points, but since we don’t pick ties, I’m going with a Canisius sweep.

Army West Point at Mercyhurst
Dan: After getting swept a week ago against Michigan, I think the march to 500 continues with two more W’s for Rick Gotkin this weekend. This is shaping up nicely to possibly have him clinch that number at home in a couple of weeks against Air Force. Mercyhurst sweeps.
Chris: This series has the added fun factor of Mercyhurst forward Jack Riley going up against his dad’s team. He played well in series last year and I think will have bragging rights again. Mercyhurst sweeps.

Robert Morris at Niagara
Dan: It doesn’t seem to matter when these old CHA rivals meet; it’s always a toss-up. I don’t have a good feeling that either team is going to sweep, but since I’m not sure which night it will happen, I’m going to sit back and take Robert Morris, who won and tied last week, over Niagara, who was off after playing Clarkson and St. Lawrence. Robert Morris sweeps.
Chris: This will be a good yardstick of how much (or little) has changed has  for these teams, which finished first (RMU) and last (Niagara) in the standings last season. While Niagara should be better, I don’t think enough to change the balance of power. Robert Morris sweeps.

Rochester Institute of Technology vs. Colgate
Dan: RIT nearly defeated #10 Bowling Green last week at Blue Cross Arena. This week, they’ll play a home-and-home with a Colgate squad that played very inconsistently against Mercyhurst, then lost to Northeastern. I don’t think Colgate will be swept, so I’m going to pick the home team in each game. Colgate wins on Friday. RIT wins on Saturday.
Chris: Both teams have had their ups and downs already this season. I’m going with the safe pick of the home team each night. Colgate wins Friday; RIT wins Saturday.

American International at Penn State
Dan: AIC played better last week than scores would indicate; they led Fairbanks after the first period, 2-0, and they played Anchorage to a 3-2 game in the second and third period. Unfortunately, though, one period of bad hockey can deep six two periods of good hockey. I think they give Penn State a good run, but I think it’s the Nittany Lions with a sweep in Hockey Valley. Penn State sweeps.
Chris: Penn State is tough to beat at home, and can outgun Austin Orzulak and the Yellow Jackets. Penn State sweeps.

Air Force at Nebraska-Omaha
Dan: After watching Air Force dominate Denver a couple of weeks ago, can you pick Omaha to sweep this series with ease? I won’t. But you don’t get to be the #2 team in the nation by accident, no matter how early it is in the year. Omaha sweeps.
Chris: The Falcons would like nothing better than to ruin the party in Omaha, which opens its new Baxter Arena this weekend. But I think the second ranked Mavericks will prevail in their new barn. UNO sweeps.

Tuesday, October 27
Sacred Heart at American International
Dan: Sacred Heart showed some grit and tenacity last week, rebounding from a 5-2 loss to UMass to pummel Arizona State back to the Valley of the Sun. I’m taking them in a midweek conference game against the Yellow Jackets. Sacred Heart wins.
Chris: I think Sacred Heart is on the upswing, and will be rested coming off a bye weekend while AIC is in Happy Valley. I’m going with a Pioneers win.

Three Things: Compelling ‘Argue-ment’ as Bentley sweeps Northeastern

A look back at three observations from this past weekend in the world of Atlantic Hockey:

Falcons fly high in sweep of Hockey East’s Huskies

At the end of the first period on Friday night, Hockey East’s Northeastern Huskies had bombed and blitzed Bentley goalie Jayson Argue to the tune of 20 shots. The Huskies went into the locker room after holding possession for nearly 70 percent of the period, outshooting the Falcons 20-2.

But the Falcons led, 1-0. Crazy, right?

It began a theme of the weekend, one where Northeastern’s offense threw everything — including the proverbial kitchen sink — on the Bentley net but simply couldn’t score. During Friday night’s game at Matthews Arena, the Huskies outshot the Falcons 51-11, but they trailed by as many as three (3-0) in the third period thanks to an Andrew Gladiuk hat trick. After Northeastern clawed back within one, Argue slammed the door shut to preserve a 3-2 Falcons win.

Then came Saturday in front of a sold-out home crowd, the first of its kind in Bentley program history.

Bentley scored 1:13 into the first period, then again five minutes later. They built a 3-0 lead after two when Gladiuk scored on the power play, then pushed it to 4-0 early in the third when Kyle Schmidt scored on a great individual effort. Northeastern got one back, but Argue against kept a lid on things with 40 more saves. Bentley 4. Northeastern 1. It was a better all-around effort with the Bentley defense, who blocked 17 shots in the process of the victory.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of synergy (on Friday night); he just saved a lot of second, third, and fourth chance opportunities,” said Bentley head coach Ryan Soderquist of Argue. “But I will credit our D corps tonight for saving a lot of those second and third chance opportunities. (Argue) did a great job tonight picking up the first chance, and the defense did a good job of cleaning up the second and third chance. If we can play like that over the season, we’ll be pretty successful.”

Good thing it’s October cuz that’s a whole lotta orange

This weekend’s slate featured two sell-outs, one at Bentley’s JAR and the second as part of the Brick City Classic at RIT. With more than 10,000 fans looking on at Blue Cross Arena, RIT built a 2-0 lead on the back of two Todd Skirving goals scored a minute apart at five and six minutes into the first period. Bowling Green retaliated with a goal of their own a minute after Skirving’s second before the game settled into a 50-minute, one-goal grind.

With about three minutes remaining, Kevin Dufour scored for Bowling Green, tying the game and allowing them to escape Blue Cross Arena with a 2-2 tie. But it was a good confidence builder for the Tigers, allowing the team to “have some belief in ourselves,” according to head coach Wayne Wilson after the game.

All for one, one for all

A running tally Chris and I are keeping all season is Atlantic Hockey’s performance against outside conference competition. The league scored three wins against non-conference opponents this weekend thanks to Bentley’s sweep of Northeastern and Sacred Heart’s 3-0 victory over Arizona State.

That’s still not great for AHC fans. The league is essentially on the same pace it was a year ago. After three weekends last season, AHC schools were 5-19. This year, through roughly the same amount of games (but in one week’s shorter time), the league has the exact same amount of wins. That means there’s work left to do if they intend to work towards that all-important second NCAA berth in this spring’s tournament.

Atlantic Hockey Picks, Oct. 16-17

Last week:

Dan: 9-4-1
Chris: 10-3-1

On the season:

Dan: 10-5-1 (.656)
Chris: 11-4-1 (.719)


This Week’s Picks:

Friday, October 16 and Saturday, October 17
Air Force at Robert Morris
Dan: When talking with USCHO Live this week, I talked about how RMU is a team considered “old and deep.” They’re going to be bigger, stronger, and more experienced. I’m taking RMU this weekend. RMU sweeps.
Chris: The all-time series is 13-12-1 in favor of Air Force, and the games are usually close as well. This is a match-up of experience (RMU) vs. youth (AFA) and I like the Colonials to get some wins on home ice. RMU sweeps.

Bentley vs. Northeastern
Dan: Bentley already sold out the JAR for Saturday’s game, meaning folks may be turned away at the door if they attempt to come buy at the door. In that building, 400 people can feel like 4,000. I’m not sure what 1,200 raging Falcons can do, but I’m looking forward to finding out.  Northeastern wins on Friday; Bentley wins on Saturday.
Chris: Northeastern hosts on Friday, and Bentley on Saturday, which means the JAR will be rocking. The Huskies have never played at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena, and, despite being located only nine miles apart, these are just the fifth and sixth meetings between the schools. I’m going with the home team each night. Northeastern wins Friday; Bentley Saturday.

Friday, October 16
Bowling Green at Canisius
Dan: I once had a marketing professor in college who went to Bowling Green. No way I’m picking against them since I’m pretty sure I still owe him some credit hours. Bowling Green wins.
Chris: Four AHC teams take on ranked opponents this weekend, including No. 10 BGSU visiting Canisius and Rochester Institute of Technology. Hey, more games against teams named “Falcons”! I think this version leaves HarborCenter happy. Bowling Green wins.

Holy Cross at Providence
Dan: Holy Cross is going to play this game tough, but this isn’t a game Providence is really intending on losing. Though I guess you could say no team actually enters a game expecting to lose, right? Providence wins.
Chris: I expect another good effort by the Crusaders, but you have to like the defending national champs at home. Providence wins.

Mercyhurst at Michigan
Dan: I’m bought on Mercyhurst this week, and although I think they’re developing as a young team quickly, I can’t pick a tie and I just can’t see Michigan outright losing. Michigan wins.
Chris: Mercyhurst is off to an impressive start, and a young, confident team like the Lakers can certainly pull off an upset of the No. 11 Wolverines. But I’m playing it safe on this one. Michigan wins.

Sacred Heart at Massachusetts
Dan: Coming off their tie against Sacred Heart, the Pioneers very easily could go in and win this game. As a strong team, this is a game they’ll win and start making more waves. Sacred Heart wins.
Chris: SHU had an impressive tie at Union to open the season, and I like them to beat the Minutemen, who are coming off a road sweep of Colorado College. Sacred Heart wins.

American International at Alaska
Dan: Maybe it’s just me, but I really think AIC has a good chance to go up to Fairbanks and knock off at least one team. Unfortunately, I think the host team is just a little bit too strong. The Nanooks, by the way, have historically had the greatest intros in college hockey, so if you’re going to attend, get there early. Alaska wins.
Chris: The Yellow Jackets travel way up north for the Alaska Goal Rush Tournament where they’ll face the host Nanooks as well as Alaksa-Anchorage (Rensselaer is the fourth team in the tournament). Alaska was knocked off by Arizona State last weekend, and I don’t think the Nanooks will be taking AIC lightly. Alaska wins.

Saturday, October 17
Bowling Green at Rochester Institute of Technology
Dan: The Brick City Classic is RIT’s version of Homecoming, and it’s one of those things you have to experience once in your life. I say that even though virtually every possible event in my life conspires to keep me from visiting Rochester. RIT wins.
Chris: Give RIT credit – the Tigers don’t schedule cupcakes for their annual Brick City game in downtown Rochester. RIT has faced Boston College, Michigan and Penn State the past three seasons, losing each time. But despite the Faclons’ No. 10 ranking, I think this will be the year the Tigers send ten thousand people home happy. RIT wins.

Arizona State at Sacred Heart
Dan: I love everything about this game. Sacred Heart is playing Arizona State, which automatically makes this special. It’s for a great cause, which we’ve outlined a couple of times. The Pioneers are playing in Danbury, a beautiful building out on Connecticut’s western border. It has the potential to get very loud and be a great showing for the host team. SHU wins.
Chris: This game will be played in Danbury, in the second annual charity game in honor of Jason Pagni, a big contributor to hockey in Connecticut. Last year, the Pioneers took down UConn. I like their chances against the newest Division I program. SHU wins.

American International vs. Alaska-Anchorage
Dan: Remember when I said I thought AIC could go to the Great White North and pick up a win? That’s exactly what I’m going with. You know what’s great though? The temperature in Fairbanks is going to be in the 20s at night; that’s how cold it’ll be in Springfield back home for the Yellow Jackets. AIC wins.
Chris: I expect a close contest against a team that struggled in the WCHA last season, but think AIC comes back from Alaska winless. Alaska-Anchorage wins.

Youth is served

Three things from this past weekend in Atlantic Hockey:

Best beginnings

Air Force and Mercyhurst, teams with large batches of newcomers and therefore expected to take a while to gel, look very much ahead of schedule.

The Mercyhurst Lakers, who split with No. 20 Colgate to kick off the college hockey season last weekend, opened Atlantic Hockey conference play with an impressive road sweep of Bentley.

While Bentley returns many weapons from last season, the Lakers had to replace a whopping 12 players.

The games were a rematch of last season’s wild quarterfinal series won my Mercyhurst in three games. This time out, Mercyhurst swept a regular season series at Bentley for the first time since 2006, thanks in part to freshmen.

Rookies accounted for five of the six Laker goals in the series, including three by frosh Taylor Best. Best already has four goals on the young season.


Falcon frosh

Rookies also played a huge role in Air Force’s 5-4 overtime upset of No. 5 Denver on Friday.

Kyle Haak registered a pair of goals in his first collegiate game to pace the Falcons, who had five rookies in all contribute seven points in the contest.

Freshman goalie Billy Christopoulos made 28 saves for his first collegiate win.

Denver earned the split with a 3-1 win on Saturday.


Big wins, more losses

Atlantic Hockey teams have scored two wins against ranked teams so far. Besides Air Force’s win over fifth-ranked Denver on Friday, Mercyhurst topped No. 20 Colgate in a wild, 9-7 affair on Oct. 3.

But for the most part, AHC teams haven’t fared well in non-conference games. The league is 2-11-1 so far against non-league opposition.

It was hoped that things would look up thanks to more non-conference home games on the schedule, and so far six of the 14 non-league games have been held in AHC buildings. Atlantic Hockey went 2-4 in their own buildings vs. 0-7-1 on the road.

Atlantic Hockey Picks, Oct. 9-10

Last week:

Dan: 1-1
Chris: 1-1

On the season:

Dan: 1-1 (.500)
Chris: 1-1 (.500)


This Week’s Picks:

Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10
Mercyhurst at Bentley
Dan: As much as Ryan Soderquist talked about Bentley putting the past behind them, the Falcons have to open the season in the exact same way their playoff run ended – at home against Mercyhurst. In the interest of starting anew, though, I’m going with the host Falcons, who open the year with more returning chemistry and an identity more intact than the visiting Lakers. Bentley sweeps.
Chris: In the first conference series of the season, Mercyhurst returns to the scene of the crime, where they stole a quarterfinal series win over the favored Falcons. The Lakers are coming off a wild split against Colgate, and but I think Bentley will be very motivated to get four points. Bentley sweeps.

Quinnipiac vs. Holy Cross
Dan: Quinnipiac built the prototype of an ECAC powerhouse, posting 20-win seasons every year since 2011-2012. That’s a tall order for the Crusaders, who are opening the season at home for the second straight year. Quinnipiac sweeps.
Chris: Holy Cross hosts on Friday; Quinnipiac on Saturday. Holy Cross begins the post-Matt Ginn era, and it may take a while to adjust to that. Quinnipiac sweeps.

Denver vs. Air Force
Dan: If the preseason prognostications are correct, Denver fans are in for another solid season. They bring back a bulk of their offense, a unit that can really fly. That’s going to be a problem for Air Force’s youth, which will need to mature quickly if it wants to pick up victories. Denver sweeps.
Chris: Air Force coach Frank Serratore referred to No. 5 Denver (where he used to coach) as “The Evil Empire.” They usually have their way with the Falcons, and this pair of games to open a rebuilding year at Air Force, will be an uphill battle. Denver sweeps.

Friday, October 9
Boston College at Army West Point
Dan: This is a return match from when Army traveled to BC two seasons ago and lost at Conte Forum, 11-0. BC is the preseason #1 team in the nation with a group of ultra-talented freshmen, solid defenders, and a goaltender who may be the best in the nation. Army will be improved, but this is going to be a really tough draw. BC wins.
Chris: What a great way for the Black Knights to kick off their season, squaring off against the preseason No. 1. I think things will be close for a period or two, but ultimately go the Eagles’ way. BC wins

Rochester Institute of Technology at Clarkson
Dan: A technology school meets an engineering school. I haven’t decided if I want to bust out my abacus to figure out who wins this one. RIT wins.
Chris: I think RIT may be the better team, but Clarkson has had so much success against the Tigers (9-0-2 in the last 11 meetings) and Atlantic Hockey in general (7-0-1 the past two seasons) that they’ll be a confident bunch, especially on home ice. Clarkson wins. 

Niagara at St. Lawrence
Dan: Maybe it’s because I’m from Boston and don’t get out much, but I thought these schools were closer together than they are. The road trip from Niagara to St. Lawrence would take you from my hometown to Philadelphia. The Purps’ gift when they get to Canton? A team that won 20 games last year. SLU wins.
Chris: St. Lawrence was a surprise last season but they won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year. I like them to get off to a good start on home ice. SLU wins.

Sacred Heart at Union
Dan: This is a fantastic first test for the Pioneers, widely regarded as a team truly ready to start making the jump. They take on a Union team needing to replace its leading scorer and its starting goaltender. I’m going out on a limb and taking SHU to shock the Dutch. SHU wins.
Chris: I’m intrigued to see how Sacred Heart opens what could be a breakout season. They have knocked off some good teams in the past, but I think they come up short on the road. Union wins.

Saturday, October 10
Penn State at Canisius
Dan: Canisius seems to find ways to always be competitive in league play, but they’ve struggled to win non-conference games. The Griffs only won one game each year for the past three seasons. Penn State wins.
Chris:This is another example how a combination of a nice new arena (Harborcenter) and the Big Ten’s need for nonconference games translate into a quality game in an AHC barn. Unfortunately I think the home ice advantage won’t be enough in this case. Penn State wins.

Niagara at Clarkson
Dan: After falling to SLU a night ago, I think Niagara feels things out with some changes for the second night. I think they’ll be competitive, but I’m still taking the Knights. Clarkson wins.
Chris: Like Dan, I think this will be a close game, but in the end, the Golden Knights will find a way to pull out a victory. Clarkson wins.

Rochester Institute of Technology at St. Lawrence
Dan: After picking up a win over Clarkson the night before, I think RIT keeps it close but ultimate can’t take a weekend sweep of the North Country. SLU wins.
Chris: The Tigers defeated the Saints last season in the opening game at RIT’s Gene Polisseni Center. Different venue and a different result this time. SLU wins.

American International at New Hampshire
Dan: UNH was a very good team once they figured out their goaltending situation last year. Daniel Tirone finished the year with a 2.14 GAA and .924 save percentage. That’s bad news for the Yellow Jackets. UNH wins.
Chris: UNH is heavily favored in this one, and I think things will go according to expectations. UNH wins.

Here we go again

Are you ready?

There’s real college hockey this weekend, as Mercyhurst has the honor of playing in the first NCAA game(s) of the season, hosting No. 20 Colgate on Saturday and Sunday.

Look for the complete Atlantic Hockey season preview on Sunday, but to start things off, here are Dan Rubin’s and Chris Lerch’s predictions for opening weekend. Besides the Lakers and Raiders, there are a handful of exhibition contests as well, but Dan and Chris open their picks battle with just the pair of official games.

Last season:
Dan: 134-81-27 (.610)
Chris: 137-76-27 (.627)
Chris edged Dan for bragging rights, but just like every team out there right now, they’re both undefeated.

This Week’s Picks
Saturday, October 3 and Sunday, October 4
Colgate at Mercyhurst
Dan: The AHC needs to be better this year about winning non-conference games. Unfortunately, Mercyhurst’s first two draws are against a Colgate team that won 20-plus games last year and came within a game of winning ECAC. Even though the games are in Erie, Colgate sweeps.
Chris: This is a tough way to open your season, against a Top-20 opponent and with as many as 11 freshmen in the lineup. Colgate sweeps.

Remember to check back on Sunday for the 2015-16 Atlantic Hockey Season Preview.

Atlantic Hockey Picks, the final results

Last week:

Dan: 1-2
Chris: 0-3

For the season:

Dan: 134-81-27 (.610)
Chris: 137-76-27 (.627)

And the winner is:

Chris made RIT fans happy by picking against the Tigers the final weekend, and they again proved him wrong. But he held on for the season victory against Dan by a mere 3.5 games. We didn’t pick the same number of games because of the best-of-three quarterfinal format, but it was a total of 240 games picked by Chris and 242 by Dan. And we both picked better than six out 10 games correctly over the course of the season.

In 2013-2014, Chris defeated Dan by seven games, so he’s closing the gap. It’s been fun and we’ll do it again next season.

And while not an official pick, Chris is taking Minnesota State over the Tigers in South Bend. That should satisfy the RIT faithful.

Good luck to everyone in their Pick’em prognostications.

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