ECAC Hockey picks: Week 18

Prediction precision

Season record: 106-50-18 (.661)

On the fly

All times Eastern

Friday, February 4

Rensselaer at Quinnipiac – 7:00

While RPI will surely be the popular pick – especially in light of yesterday’s column – QU isn’t exactly folding up shop: The Bobcats are 5-1-3 in their last nine and are looking to solidify a home-ice spot in the first round of the upcoming playoffs. That said, many of the Q-Cats’ wins are of the 3-2 variety, whereas the Engineers have pinned five goals on foes in three of their last seven games. RPI in a squeaker, 3-2.

St. Lawrence at Colgate – 7:00 TV: Time Warner Sports

I’m getting tired of pulling The Brown Rule out week after week, but sobeit: Colgate has to win before I can give them any real consideration. 4-2 Saints.

Dartmouth at Brown – 7:00

Don’t look now, but add the Big Green to the list of streaking squads: It’s 5-1-1 in its last seven, and the goals are coming in heavier than a Nor’easter (27 scored in that time). Brown has struggled lately, loser of three straight and finding only 11 goals in its last seven outings. Add a touch of performance anxiety at home, and you’ve spelled another Dartmouth win: 4-2.

Harvard at Yale – 7:00

This is not the way to start Beanpot Week. I can’t imagine Yale dropping three straight, and certainly not losing Game 3 at home. Harvard may finally be discovering something tangentially related to “form”, but it won’t do them any good in New Haven. 5-1 Bulldogs.

Clarkson at Cornell – 7:00

Clarkson looked like one of the surprise teams of the year rolling into the holiday break, but as breaks are wont to do, the Golden Knights lost their momentum and have staggered to a 2-6-0 record in 2011. The Big Red has played its season in reverse, bolting into contention with a 5-1-2 record since the Florida College Classic. Clarkson is struggling, without question, but this should be a very hard-fought contest: 3-2 Red.

Union at Princeton – 7:00

Princeton: 14-3-1 in its last 18, 9-1-1 in 11, and on a four-game winning streak. Union: 7-1-0 in eight, with three W’s strung together right now, and 4-2-1 on the road in ECAC Hockey. Who’s it going to be? It’s a real tough call in a game for second place. I think the Tigers are the hotter team, but in a playoff-type game, I’m going to give the slightest of edges to the more experienced Dutchmen… in no small part because of Princeton’s somewhat surprising 3-3-1 home record. 3-2 UC.

Saturday, February 5

Rensselaer at Princeton – 4:00

This is the difficulty of picking games: I’d be stunned if Princeton got swept at home, but individually, I think Union and RPI hold edges over the Garden Staters. I suppose all I can do is fall back on my old line – prove me wrong, Tigers. 4-3 RPI.

Dartmouth at Yale – 7:00 TV: YES

This is one of Yale’s final significant challenges en route to the regular-season title; after the Big Green, the Bulldogs’ most formidable foes will be Princeton (on the road) and Cornell (at home). It’s where the rubber meets the road, as well as any number of other valuable well-worn adages. If the Blue fashions itself a national contender, it’s time to start proving it… and I think it’s up for it. 5-3 Yale.

St. Lawrence at Cornell – 7:00

The Saints are 0-6-1 in their last seven league games… that’s not a good sign for a team that’s six points back of a home-ice seed and fading fast. Cornell is squarely in the middle of that hunt, and indeed has a first-round bye only two points ahead. 4-2 Big Red in what amounts to a mismatch, for this conference.

Union at Quinnipiac – 7:00

The Dutchmen have the mojo working, while QU has struggled to establish a home-ice advantage this year. Looks like a safe bet to say Union, 5-3.

Clarkson at Colgate – 7:00 TV: Time Warner Sports

Brown Rule… Clarkson, 5-3.

Monday, February 7

Harvard vs. Northeastern – 5:00 Beanpot @ TD Garden, Boston; TV: NESN

Sure, Harvard beat Colgate… but in a matchup of Brown Rule teams, can the winner really escape Rule purgatory? Even I haven’t decided. In any case, the nightcap – BU-BC – is the big show; this is the opening act for a late-arriving crowd. Fortunately for both teams, really, they get to play each other and therefore have a very real shot at playing in the late game next Monday. Who do I think will make it happen? I’m hoping Harvard, of course, but to hedge my bets, I’m going to predict the Huskies by a much closer 4-3 score than the 3-0 shutout they pitched at Matthews a few weeks back.