Atlantic Hockey Picks March 15-17 (Quarterfinal round)

Last Week: 5-3
On the Season: 140-75-29 (.623)


This Week’s Picks:

Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals (Best of Three Series)
March 15-17

Updated from last week: There have been 29 best-of-three series in Atlantic Hockey history, played either in the first or quarterfinal rounds. The home team won 28 of them.

Read more about each series in my weekly AHA column.

No. 8 Rochester Institute of Technology at No. 1 Niagara
The Tigers’ lack of success against Niagara (all the more interesting because both head coaches in Purple Eagle’s history were All-Americans for RIT in their playing days) is well known. It’s going to be a tall order to win twice in a rink that the Tigers have come up short in 10 attempts. Factors include any lasting effects from Niagara’s drubbing at the hands of Air Force in the final weekend of the season, and which RIT team will show up: the one that looked listless in its regular season finale against Canisius, or the team that dominated American International last weekend.  The pressure is on the Purps to sweep to stay inside the NCAA selection bubble. A loss, even one, could put Niagara in the same boat as the other seven AHA teams still in the running- win to get in. That said, I think RIT will end the Dwyer Arena jinx, but not twice. Niagara in three.

No. 7 Canisius at No. 2 Air Force
The Falcons are peaking, as they usually do this time of the season. There have been a couple of stumbles in past quarterfinals (Air Force had to go to a third game in 2009 and 2012) but Frank Serratore’s teams find a way to get to Rochester every time. This weekend will be no exception, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Canisius team that I think will make it to Rochester next season, win a game here. Tony Capobianco, who has quietly had a great season in net for the Golden Griffins, can steal one for sure. Air Force in three.

No. 6 Mercyhurst at No. 3 Holy Cross
These teams are evenly matched, but the Crusaders have the hotter hand, going 4-0-1 in their last five games. Mercyhurst swept Army in the first round last weekend to pull out of a slump that saw it go without a victory in the prior eight games. A lot will depend on which Lakers team shows up, and if the Crusaders can continue to use home ice to their advantage (10-5-2 there this season). I’m picking the Crusaders to advance to Rochester for the first time. Holy Cross in three.

No. 5 Robert Morris at No. 4 Connecticut
Robert Morris has a better overall record, PairWise and RPI thanks to some good non-conference wins. But UConn did better than RMU where it counts in terms of this weekend: two point higher in the final standings, giving the Huskies home ice. Goaltending and special teams also favor the Huskies. Only one road team has won an AHA playoff series in 29 attempts. So why am I picking the Colonials? They’ve shown they can play and beat very good teams. My gut tells me they’ll be able to do that this weekend. Colonials in three.

In summary: I think there’s going to be some hockey on Sunday.

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