ECAC Hockey picks: Oct. 21-22

Last week

Josh flew solo (and aren’t we so proud of him?) last week, going 8-1-2. I think I’m in for a dogfight this year… and I’m sure that some of you will prefer his brand of prognostication to my own. Call it a hunch.

This week

Rensselaer at Notre Dame (Friday)
Brian: The Irish split at champion Minnesota-Duluth to open the season, but split at home with Ohio State last weekend. RPI, of course, split with Minnesota State two weeks ago before dropping consecutive shutouts at Ferris State. Getting blanked in three of four games is bad, but having players like Brock Higgs, Marty O’Grady and Greg Burgdoerfer still on the shelf is worse. At least the Engineers are playing well defensively, and can reasonably hope for an improvement in fortunes when they return. Not feeling too optimistic in this matchup, though.
ND, 3-1

Josh: This is not the ideal situation for an Engineers team that’s limping in off a two-loss weekend against Ferris State. They have to travel back to the heartland and be “the other team” when the Fighting Irish open up their new rink, the Compton Family Ice Arena. Rensselaer was taken to school on several fronts against the Bulldogs – it is imperative that the Engineers find some offense after being shut out twice consecutively. The energy surrounding the Papal Gold and Madonna Blue will probably be just too much to overcome on Friday night.
Notre Dame 3-1

Union at Niagara (Friday)
Brian: The Purple Eagles have scored two goals in three games… and both of those came in one loss. Local officials are considering replacing the goal judge with half a tub of leftover cole slaw to save money. They may want to hold off on that until after this weekend though, as I think the Dutchmen are likely to resemble the Army-whoopin’ team of two weeks ago now that they’re not playing a tough CCHA squad.
Union, 6-1

Josh: The Dutchmen lead this series 5-0-0 all-time, and the Purple Eagles’ unimpressive 0-2-1 start, lack of offense (two goals in three games thus far) and the Dutchmen’s 2-1 scoring ratio so far all point to a pretty good win for Union. What will the Purple Eagles’ answer be for Kelly Zajac, who has spread five points over all three of his games so far? One tip for the Dutchmen – don’t draw a penalty. Niagara’s one strength thus far is 14-for-15 penalty killing.
Union 5-1

American International at Clarkson (Friday-Saturday)
Brian: This is a good opportunity for the new readers to acclimate themselves with “The Brown Rule”: if a team has never demonstrated any indication of possessing the mere ability to be a winner, I can not pick them. Don’t take it too personally, AIC – it’s not called “The AIC Rule”, after all. But for the first time, I’m using The Brown Rule in reference to a non-ECAC team. Now AIC can take it personally.
Clarkson, 5-3; Clarkson, 6-1

Josh: Good old Yellow Jackets. They just keep plugging away, trying, often not succeeding, but trying again. They gave Holy Cross a battle last Saturday losing 2-1, and their goalie is performing fairly well despite an 0-3 record to start the season. Ben Meisner has turned away 107 of 116 shots. He’s getting bombarded, so the key for Clarkson is to just fire away and see what gets through. Louke Oakley is hot for Clarkson, scoring four goals last weekend and holding six points so far this season. Paul Karpowich looked great last weekend against Sacred Heart, but gave up seven goals the week prior on 69 shots. Clarkson’s power play and penalty kill are sharp at 30.4 and 88.9 percent, respectively, which will be a big help against any opponent.
Clarkson 4-0, Clarkson 5-2

Quinnipiac at Robert Morris (Friday-Saturday)
Brian: The Colonials dropped the season-opener to Colgate out in Omaha, and now the Bobcats have an opportunity to finish the ECAC portion of RMU’s schedule in depressing fashion. QU has enjoyed the first four of its six straight Atlantic Hockey tilts, outscoring Holy Cross, Canisius and Bentley by a 22-5 aggregate. (This weekend isn’t the end of Quinny’s 2011 AHA Tour, either: they draw Brown Rule sure-bet Sacred Heart in December.) All I’m going to say is, if the Bobcats are going to be accommodating enough as to wax nostalgic with their former league-mates, they’d better be equally gracious to their current colleagues by playing their old role to perfection… by beating the tar out of all the programs they used to dominate back in the AHA and the MAAC.
Quinnipiac, 3-2; Quinnipiac, 5-1

Josh: “Oh, great. Langlois again?” Let’s just pretend those were the words of Robert Morris goaltender Brooks Ostergard when he heard his old Eastern Junior Hockey League nemesis was making the trip this weekend to Pittsburgh. Langlois, who played for the Jersey Hitmen in the “EJ” faced Ostergard while the goalie was on the Bay State Breakers. Now, Ostergard and the Colonials are facing an EJ alum who is the leading scorer in the nation at 1.83 points per game (11 points in six – really, all six games). Good luck, Brooks. You’re on, Jeremy. Add to the EJ alumni party Trevor Lewis (Syracuse Stars), who has points in each of his first three games this year.
Quinnipiac 4-1, Quinn. 2-1

Union at RIT (Saturday)
Brian: The Tigers are likely one of the top two teams in Atlantic Hockey, but they’ve had some struggles early on, including Thursday’s first loss to Canisius in nine games. They have a lot of jump and the ability to score in bunches, but consistency (including a sub-70 percent penalty kill) have been the thorn in the Tigers’ paw so far. Union looks sharp, but can’t afford to slip up if it wants to hold onto its totally useless USCHO Poll ranking.
Union, 4-2

Josh: Game of the weekend for ECAC teams? Probably. After the show RIT put on against St. Lawrence (tying the game with nine seconds and winning it 14 seconds into OT) in front of 10,556 at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena, the Tigers are operating on pure energy. Union just gave up two games it was winning to allow Western Michigan to come away with two ties. RIT is 12-5-3 overall in the all-time series, but Union is 3-1-1 in the last five. Cam Burt scored five points in the one game against the Saints, while Union’s Kelly Zajac has five in each of three games. Don’t call a tie, Josh. That’d be the easy way out. OK. Here goes:
RIT 3-2

Army vs. Colgate (Saturday)
Brian: Army is 0-3-0, outscored 16-3. Perhaps a tight 3-2 loss at Merrimack bodes well for the Cadets, but I’m not banking on a massive upswing in Army’s fortunes this weekend. This game is out on Cape Cod, in Hyannis, Mass, so if you’re in the area give it a look! It’s a heck of a lot closer to you coastal alumni than Hamilton.
Colgate, 4-1

Josh: The Raiders return to Hyannis, Mass., (why are two New York-based teams in Hyannis, again?) for the second annual Cape Cod Collegiate Classic. Colgate is the absolute favorite, with the Black Knights just not showing much of any power yet. It’s more than just a flesh wound. The Raiders may take off another limb thanks to potent scorers like Austin Smith (four-game scoring streak, three-game goal streak) and Chris Wagner (three-game point streak). Will Don Vaughan go with Eric Mihalik or Alex Evin in net? Mihalik’s stats aren’t exactly shining (.877, 2.96), but it shouldn’t matter against a team that’s scored three goals over three games.
Colgate 6-2

Josh is still new enough to this gig that he thought we care enough about exhibition games to add them to our workload. Cute, right?

Josh: Whole bunch of exhibitions for Ivies
Cornell’s Saturday opponent, Carleton, has had some success against ECAC opponents, tying Colgate 3-3 and beating St. Lawrence, 5-2. They’re tested and could be trouble for Cornell, but the Big Red are always a tough date. Cornell, 2-1 in that one.

Western Ontario took some beatings against Notre Dame and Michigan State, and now they have Harvard and Dartmouth. Both ECAC teams should win fairly easily.

Guelph has been struggling in its Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) schedule, and now they’re going up against Cornell and Princeton. Again, easy ECAC wins in both.

Only Carleton has beaten Waterloo, who travel to New Haven to face ever-powerful Yale. Waterloo has some offense at its disposal (21 goals in four games), and Yale is inexperienced in net and hasn’t faced opposition yet. Yale, 3-2.

Princeton and Dartmouth face Neumann College and Norwich University, respectively, in a pair of D-1 vs. D-3 scrimmages. The depth and overall skill of Division 1 should shine through in both and they should be at least three-goal wins for the Tigers and Big Green.