Nate last week: 8-3
(I stopped keeping track a while ago. It was too depressing.)
Friday, February 17
Colgate at St. Lawrence
Nate: Raiders head coach Don Vaughan said earlier this week he couldn’t remember the last time Colgate won at Appleton (it was 2007). Both teams have been playing well of late, but Colgate is looking to lock up a top-four seed and possibly more. Colgate 5-2
Brian: Well holy cow, SLU is suddenly playing like it’s got a set, and just in time for the toughest travel tandem in the league to swing through Canton. I couldn’t be happier – I’d much rather be wrong about an exciting game than be right about a snoozer – but this matchup still doesn’t quite give me the utterly perplexed, empty feeling that I get when looking at a pure toss-up. Both teams are scoring… but the Raiders are scoring more. Both teams are defending well… but the Raiders have been stingier (7-6 win over Brown notwithstanding). It looks like Colgate’s to lose, on paper. 4-2 Raiders.
Cornell at Clarkson
Nate: The Big Red are 9-1-1 this year on Friday nights this season and hasn’t loss to Clarkson since the 2007-08 season. The numbers suggest a win, although these teams played to a scoreless draw earlier this year. Cornell 2-1 (OT)
Brian: I try not to look at Nate’s picks before writing my own, but I gotta give it to the man: he does his research. Lately, Clarkson has experienced a warming trend (5-3-1) by winning tight and losing ugly (four one-goal wins and one by two, compared to one-, three- and four-goal losses). Cornell on the other hand has been holding teams beneath them to under three goals a game, and the Big Red offense has found the back of the net just enough to keep the team loss-less since the Colgate debacle (2-0-2 since the home-and-home sweep at the hands of the Raiders). We’re approaching a very Cornell time of year, and I don’t think ‘Tech is in much of a position to slow the train down. 4-2 Red.
Harvard at Brown
Nate: Despite not having a ton of success in the actual tournament, the Crimson have actually been pretty solid (22-9-5) in the post-Beanpot weeks under head coach Ted Donato. Meanwhile, Brown has tumbled from a potentially hosting a playoff game to last place. The Bears are tough to figure out, as they beat Cornell earlier in the season and swept the season series for Union. Harvard can’t afford any slip ups if they want to lock up the final bye spot. Harvard 5-3
Brian: Every fan base in the league hates playing Brown, because Brown has a tendency to give opponents fits at incredibly inopportune times. Granted, the Bears are usually playing the underdog role, so that’s a factor, and they can play a gritty, physical war of attrition as well as anybody, which doesn’t make for a scintillating viewing experience. But Harvard has had as good a look at Bruno as anybody over the past few years, and the Crimson are on a bit of a roll right now (4-1-4, only loss coming at the hands of then-No. 1-ranked BU in the Beanpot). I like Harvard’s odds. 3-2 Crimson.
Princeton at Union
Nate: The Dutchmen are nearly unbeatable at home, as they’re 22-5-6 dating back to last year. The young Tigers have been inconsistent and could make some noise in the future, but this is Union’s show now. Union 5-1
Brian: I’m with Nate on this one. There is no logical reason to pick against Union right now. 5-2 Dutchmen.
Quinnipiac at Rensselaer
Nate: The last match between these two team’s was decided by a last-second goal by Yuri Bouharevich, who was left wide open thanks to mental lapse by the Engineers. RPI has turned it around a bit since then, while Quinnipiac has split the last two weeks. This is a big one if the Bobcats have their sights on a bye, but I like RPI on their home ice. RPI 3-2
Brian: Do I pick the stingy, low-scoring home team or the brutally inconsistent grab bag of offensive flair that is visiting Quinnipiac? Goodman’s suspension doesn’t hurt QU much on the stats side of things, but he’s a big boy who’s not afraid to mix it up every now and again. I think that may become a factor against RPI’s big, banging defense, and for lack of a better reason to pick ’em, I’ll throw in that hockey karma might be against the Bobcats for the time being. 2-1 Engineers.
Dartmouth at Yale
Nate: This looked like a no-brainer at the start of the season for the folks at NBC Sports Network to include in the lineup. But neither team is is position to challenge for a league crown, as Yale has worked several new parts into the lineup and Dartmouth has been plagued by inconsistency throughout the season. Should be some goals in this one. Yale 5-4
Brian: Attention! This game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network (nee Versus) at 7:30. 7:30, NBC Sports Network. Tune in. In any case, this is another brutal game to pick, as Yale is in the midst of a disappointing rebuilding year and Dartmouth has totally fallen apart… at least that’s how it looks, compared to the experience and potential on Bob Gaudet’s roster. Get ready for some inconsistent hockey, NBC Sports fans! 4-3 Bulldogs.
Saturday, February 18
Colgate at Clarkson
Nate: The Raiders continue their trip through the North Country with a stop at Cheel Arena. They haven’t lost in their last nine against the Golden Knights (7-0-2), who are riding a four-game home winning streak. Still, gotta like Colgate here. Colgate 4-3
Brian: The teams are meeting under similar circumstances to those at which they first butted heads in the fall: Colgate’s on a roll, Clarkson is struggling to put together strong back-to-back games. Cheel is a factor, but I’m not convinced that the Raiders are about to come off the rails in Potsdam. 3-2 Colgate.
Cornell at St. Lawrence
Nate: There’s always one upset, if not more during a league weekend…could it be here? Cornell ended last weekend with four points, but had just two in the prior two weekends combined. St. Lawrence has been playing well lately but its tough to pick against the Big Red. Cornell 2-1
Brian: For Cornell and Union, it’s like a game of chicken… who’s going to blink and drop an attainable league point first? It’s a lot of pressure, especially when you’re not staring at the other sweater all night. The Big Red will be staring at SLU jerseys instead, trying to keep Cleary hopes alive ahead of next Friday’s huge showdown in Ithaca. Head coach Mike Schafer said a few weeks ago that he doesn’t – has never, in fact – posted standings in the locker room. I wonder if that’ll change over the next eight days. Big Red, 3-2.
Dartmouth at Brown
Nate: These might be two of the toughest ECAC teams to get a read on this year. The Big Green started Brown’s six-game skid with a 6-2 walloping back on Jan. 27. Dartmouth hasn’t won since that date either, going 0-4-2 in that stretch. It’s a tossup but take the home team here. Brown 4-2
Brian: It’s Senior Night at Meehan, and though Brown’s Class of 2012 hasn’t seen a lot of glory, it has been instrumental in picking Bruno up off the floor and making the Bears an opponent worthy of concern. For Dartmouth, I’m afraid it will be another forgettable night in a forgettable season. 3-1 Bears.
Harvard at Yale
Nate: This is another one that appeared to have different implications at the start of the year, as it seemed likely the Bulldogs, not the Crimson, would be in the battle for first round bye. Harvard edged out a 4-3 win last month in Boston in a game that came down to the wire. Harvard 4, Yale 2
Brian: As Nate mentioned, the last H-Y On Ice game was magnificently dramatic, and effectively pulled the Crimson out of a slide and into the streak they’re on now. Regardless of the record, I believe that this game will sell out – that’s how much Harvard means to Yale, and how much the Yale hockey program has grown over the last few years – and the energy at Ingalls will be electric. So who am I picking? I honestly don’t know who to take. This feels like the perfect storm for a Yale upset, as well as Harvard has been playing lately. I’m feeling frisky: 4-3 Blue.
Princeton at Rensselaer
Nate: It’s at home, it’s senior night, and RPI has been playing fairly well over the last month. RPI 4-3
Brian: Princeton has surrendered 16 goals in its last five games. So has RPI. The distribution of those goals, however, has been far more consistent by the Tigers. I’ll take the Engineers’ frequently stalwart defense and goaltending in a tight one, 3-2.
Quinnipiac at Union
Nate: The theme of this game? Balance. Union is solid is almost every aspect, while Quinnipiac is one of 13 Division I schools to have at least eleven players reach double digit points on the year. Union 3, Quinnipiac 2
Brian: This is almost like a reverse-Brown Rule… I think I used it in effect for Yale a year or two back. Can’t pick against a team as hot as Union unless you’ve got a darn good reason. The rollercoaster Q-Cats are not – at this juncture – a good enough reason. 4-2 Union.