Penultimate Picks 2/18/11

Last week:  4-7-1
On the season: 89-59-22 (.588)

While Rochester Institute of Technology has locked up first place, the other 11 positions in Atlantic Hockey are still up for grabs, with some key series ahead.

Thursday, February 17 and Saturday, February 19
Niagara vs. Canisius – The Battle for the Bridge series may also determine the remaining bye in the west pod. Canisius can play spoiler if it can knock off its local rival. Niagara won 6-5 in overtime earlier this season. I think they’ll sweep. Niagara 4, Canisius 3; Niagara 4, Canisius 2.

Friday, February 18 and Saturday, February 19
American International vs. Army – This series may decide a home ice playoff game in the east pod. Friday’s game is at Tate rink and Saturday’s is outdoors at Rentchler Field in East Hartford. I’m picking Army to sweep. Army 3, AIC 2; Army 4, AIC 3.

Connecticut vs. Bentley – This series will go a along way in deciding a first-round bye in the east pod. The Falcons trail the Huskies by two points. I think it will stay that way. Bentley 4, UConn 2; UConn 5, Bentley 3.

Air Force at Mercyhurst – Air Force leads Mercyhurst by two points, and both teams trail Robert Morris and Niagara for the remaining west pod bye. One team needs to sweep the other to stay in contention. I think the Lakers rise to the occasion. Mercyhurst 3, Air Force 1; Mercyhurst 4, Air Force 2.

Friday, February 19 and Sunday, February 20

Sacred Heart vs. Holy Cross – Holy Cross can lock up a bye with a win. I think they’ll do one better than that. Holy Cross 4, Sacred Heart 2. Holy Cross 5, Sacred Heart 3.

Saturday, February 18

RIT at Robert Morris –  The Tigers won the first two meetings between the teams, but both games went down to the wire. RMU needs this one more than RIT. RMU 3, RIT 2.

Guest Analyst

This week’s guest picker is Sean Baxter, a long time Army fan. Here are his unedited selections:

Niagara vs Canisius- with a home and home and Canisius getting handed to RIT on a silver platter last week i do think Canisius will score a goal this week just not enough to get more than 2 points. I’m going with Canisius winning on home ice 3-2 and Niagara winning on their home ice 4-1

Holy Cross vs Sacred Heart- with Sacred Heart giving up the most goals in the league by a wide margin and with Holy Cross holding Army to 1 goal last weekend and winning 6 straight games and rocketing up the standings and Sacred Heart loosing their last 3 and with just 4 total victories this year this weekend brings more of the same Holy Cross wins on home ice 4-0 then at Sacred Heart 3-1.

AIC vs Army- well at least for AIC they aren’t the worst team in the league anymore the sad part for me is Army is the team in front of them and after getting blown out at Holy Cross last weekend I think Army rebounds with a Black Knight victory at tate rink Friday night 5-2 but the outdoors game is closer it could go either way and even a tie but I’m gonna go with Army 2-1 and making up ground in the chase for the 2nd first round bye from the east pod.

UConn vs Bentley- the battle for the 2nd first round bye from the east pod continues with Uconn coming off a 0-7-1 stretch and winning 3 of their last 4 but Friday night at Bentley they fall 3-2 but rebounding on home ice Saturday night winning 3-1.

Air Force at Mercyhurst- this one is a hard one to judge they both have given up the roughly the same amount of goals and have scored roughly the same amount of goals plus similar records it could go either way and with 2 high scoring teams I think it will all come down to goaltending and Mercyhurst goalie Ryan Zapolski has definitely got the edge there. I’m going out on a limb here and saying Mercyhurst sweeps the weekend they win 5-3 Friday night and 4-2 Saturday night

RIT at Robert Morris- what can you say about RIT that hasn’t been said already? last years incredible frozen four run and last weekend they wrapped up their 4th AHA regular season title in 5 years lead by stellar goaltending in a still unbeaten Shane Madolora who is 2nd in Division I with 5 shutouts and leads Division I in GAA and save percentage. However I think Nathan Longpre will have a big say in this game with Robert Morris 8-1-3 at home and with RIT coming off back to back shutouts its a close call but with RIT not playing for anything now that they have wrapped up the regular season title. I wouldn’t be shocked if Madolora sits this game so he can rest for the playoffs but even if he does play I think Robert Morris wins 4-3.

Check back Monday and see how Sean and I did.