ECAC Hockey picks: Week 20

And doooowwn the stretch they come; will Union falter? Will Yale leapfrog to the front again? Will I finish with a .667 prediction percentage? All these questions and more, to be answered in the coming weeks!

Prediction precision

Season: 121-57-20 (.662)

This week

All times Eastern

Friday, February 18

Brown at Princeton – 7:00

Brown pulled off the road win at SLU last Saturday to end a five-game losing streak, and Princeton has struggled of late, losing three of four (0-3-1) and surrendering 20 goals in that stretch. This is put-up or shut-up time, and I think that when we get down to brass tacks, Princeton is the better team. Tigers, 5-3.

Dartmouth at Colgate- 7:00

Colgate has won two of three. Let me repeat that: COLGATE has WON TWO OF THREE. Are the Raiders preparing themselves for a Brown-ian run a la last year’s wild postseason? We’ll see. Dartmouth has been one of the most consistent teams in the league this year, even without the benefit of a long winning/unbeaten streak (longest: four games, which only happened once). The Big Green are third in the league, four points back of second-place Yale and five from Union. This is shaping up to be a good year in Hanover, and I don’t think it’s going to get derailed in Hamilton. Dartmouth, 4-2.

Harvard at Cornell – 7:00

It’s Cornell’s favorite day of the year, when they get to host representatives from their Ivy superiors for an evening of haut academia and a little shinny on the pond. The hospitality students are especially keen to show off what they’ve learned for their guests from a Cambridge institution that has no such program, while the Crimson players are excited about getting outside the city for a little R&R in the New York woods with their charming Empire State brethren. Or, they’ll just scream at each other a lot, and try to put one another through the dashers and into Lynah’s fourth row. Either way. 4-3 Cornell.

Rensselaer at St. Lawrence – 7:00

RPI took the business end of a boot last weekend, and needs to bounce back tout suite if they hope to pull out a first-round bye. SLU has been inconsistent lately as far as the offensive and defensive results go, and they haven’t manufactured consecutive wins since the first week in January. It’s not a good time for the Capital District to come to town, in any case. 4-2 Engineers in this one.

Union at Clarkson – 7:00

Yale was a sure-thing pick for a few months; if anyone fits that mold now, it’s Union. Granted, the Dutchmen kicked the ever-loving snot out of ‘Tech a few weeks back in an 8-1 beat-down at Messa – so you think Clarkson has revenge on the brain? – but I’m not sure the Golden Knights have the ability to match up with UC here and now. Dutch W, 4-3.

Yale at Quinnipiac – 7:00

Remember when QU had only lost one game in their last 11 outings? It was only two weeks ago… no? Well, it happened. Yale has its eye on reclaiming first place, and the only way to do that is to win one more game than Union does in the next two weeks. The Bobcats are fighting to maintain a home-ice matchup in the first round, but I think they’ll have to just fight harder against another team, because Yale’s gonna beat ’em. 5-2 Blue.

Saturday, February 19

Brown at Quinnipiac – 7:00

These teams have fought some brutal battles over the Bobcats’ brief tenure in the league, and this will be no different, with home-ice on the line in the first round. My first inclination was to go with QU, for being at home and having a slightly better record, but on second thought, Brown is the senior club. This is practically a playoff game, as these teams are competing head to head for the eighth spot in the league, and Bruno has been a fierce playoff competitor in recent years. 3-2 Brown in this one.

Dartmouth at Cornell – 7:00

Here’s a tough one to call. These teams are neck-and-neck for the third seed in the playoffs, but will the Big Red have enough left in the tank after the rivalry tilt with Harvard Friday night? I’m going to hesitantly side with precedent and give Cornell the edge, but only because the game’s at Lynah: 3-2.

Harvard at Colgate – 7:00

Harvard trounced the Raiders when they met in Boston last month, but these are different teams now. That said, they’re different because they’re both playing a little bit better… sooo… advantage still rests with Harvard, I think. I don’t know, nothing in this league surprises me anymore. This is a very weak vote of confidence. 3-2 Crimson.

Rensselaer at Clarkson – 7:00

This game falls under the immense “will the dangerous but inconsistent home team (in this case, ‘Tech) nip the visiting favorite” category. I hate this category, and (or perhaps because) it covers about 80 percent of the league’s schedule, somehow. You know what? To heck with it. I’m taking the favorite. I have a record to worry about. RPI, 4-2.

Union at St. Lawrence – 7:00

This game would fall under that category too, if the Saints ever demonstrated a “dangerous” characteristic to anybody outside top-5 teams (UNH, Yale). Union is only No. 7. 5-2 Dutchmen.

Sunday, February 20

Yale at Princeton – 1:00

These teams haven’t seen each other since November 5 (a 5-3 Yale win at Ingalls), which is just about the longest any two league members can go without running across each other. Suffice to say, things have changed a bit since November… specifically, that whole Egypt thing… Uncle Leo from Seinfeld died… oh, and the Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl halftime show… and probably some other stuff. 5-3 Yale.

Tuesday, February 22

Harvard at Brown – 7:00

There is no favorite here, only two teams jostling for a slight improvement in position and, perhaps even more importantly, some much-needed momentum entering the playoffs. Brown has had Harvard’s number over the past few years (Bruno is 6-2-3 against the Crimson since the 2006-07 season, including a first-round playoff sweep two years back) and that is as good an indicator of match-up-ability as any other I can think of right now. Bears win, 3-2.