Atlantic Hockey Picks March 8-10 (Playoffs first-round)

Last Week: 6-4-2
On the Season: 135-72-29 (.623)

For comparison purposes, here’s my success rate at picking the results at this point in the season over the past few years:
2007: .634
2008: .651
2009: .653
2010: .636
2011: .598
2012: .678


This Week’s Picks:

Atlantic Hockey First Round (Best of Three Series)
March 8-10

Note: There have been 25 best-of-three series in Atlantic Hockey history, played either in the first or quarterfinal rounds. The home team has won 24 of them.

There’s a more detailed breakdown of each series in this week’s Atlantic Hockey Column.

No. 12 Sacred Heart at No. 5 Robert Morris
In early February, Sacred Heart coach C.J. Marottolo told me that his team was already looking forward to the playoffs and a fresh start. The Pioneers were 0-26-2 at the time. It turned out that Marottolo’s team started early, going 2-2-2 to close out the season. But Robert Morris played some of its best hockey of the season in the closing weeks and should counter any momentum the Pioneers might have. RMU swept Sacred Heart at 84 Lumber Arena earlier this season, and I think it’ll happen again. Robert Morris in two.

No. 11 Army at No. 6 Mercyhurst
Both teams are limping into the postseason: Army hasn’t won since Jan. 4 and Mercyhurst’s last win was on Feb. 5. But the Lakers have the offensive tools to exploit a struggling Army defense. Mercyhurst in two.

No. 10 Bentley at No. 5 Canisius
Both teams struggled down the stretch but the Golden Griffins pulled out of a five game skid to end the season with a convincing sweep of RIT. Bentley has underachieved and therefore has the potential to advance – the Falcons took all  four points from Canisius in January, including a 7-2 win. I’m picking against history (see above – the home teams are 24-1 in best-of-three series), but I think this one will go the distance, with the Falcons moving on. Bentley in three.

No. 9 American International at No. 8 Rochester Institute of Technology
The teams are fairly even in most statistical categories including almost identical special teams numbers. The Yellow Jackets hold the advantage in goaltending, but the Tigers have the home ice (granted, this year it’s not been in their favor) and the experience of going deep into the playoffs year after year. RIT in three.

Feel free to chime in by posting your picks in the comments and follow me on Twitter @chrislerch for updates throughout the weekend.