ECAC Hockey picks: Oct. 25-29 [update]

Three of Division 1’s four Huskies programs are in action against the ECAC this weekend. In related news, 6.7 percent of DI hockey programs are Huskies… while only 3.4 percent of DI are Bulldogs. We have a serious canine gap here. Oh hey, and ECAC Hockey is a national-best 17-8-3 against other leagues.

Friday, October 25

Brown vs. Yale 4:00 Liberty Hockey Invitational, Prudential Center; Newark, N.J.
Time to see what the Ivy League is made of. Brown has been a peripheral contender in recent years – tough to play, but rarely a favorite. Yale has been… oh. National champs. Ok. Both teams feature new faces, especially in goal, so it’s tough to predict how that battle-within-the-battle will end, but let’s take Yale and see how things fall from there. Bulldogs, 4-2.

Colorado College at Clarkson 7:00
CC is just 1-1 after a home split with Minnesota-Duluth. Clarkson is on a bit of a roll – 4-1-1 – but the nine points all came at the expense of Atlantic Hockey opponents Niagara, Mercyhurst, and RIT. With all due respect to the AHA, it’s time to see what the Knights can do against a member of one of the power conferences. Advantage to ‘Tech though; they’re at home… 3-2 Clarkson.

Quinnipiac at Holy Cross 7:00
Friday’s game will be HC’s fourth of the year (0-3), and first against an opponent from outside the Bay State. The Crusaders dropped decisions at BU and in a home-and-home with Northeastern; with the Bobcats’ sweep of UMass-Lowell last weekend, anything but a sweep this weekend will leave a sour taste. 4-1 QU in Round 1…

Northeastern at St. Lawrence 7:00
The Huskies are a perfect 4-0 after sweeping Alabama-Huntsville and Holy Cross; SLU is 3-1 after a split at Ferris State and a home sweep of Maine. Both teams are going to learn a lot about themselves this weekend, and I like the Saints in Appleton so far this year. This will likely be a split, but call me optimistic: 3-2 Saints on Friday…

Union at Connecticut 7:05
What would have looked like an easy pick in the preseason doesn’t look like such a no-doubter anymore, with Union struggling to contain opponent scoring and UConn returning home after a couple of battles in Mankato, Minn. One or two early goals for the Huskies could really mess with Union’s beleaguered psyche. All that said, Union is still a very talented team with a high ceiling, whereas Connecticut is 0-2 with two goals scored this year. Union on the road, 4-2.

Dartmouth vs. Princeton 7:05 Liberty Hockey Invitational, Prudential Center; Newark, N.J.
We hope – for the league’s sake – that it’s more than a friends-and-family crowd in Newark this weekend, but I’m not holding my breath. Still, it’s cool for the kids to take a twirl on NHL ice in a new venue. These two programs are each fighting to define themselves, as Dartmouth hopes to ditch last year’s injury bug and Princeton wants to make a run at a top-four finish. The Green come in with the more proven lineup, and has the early edge, but Princeton’s new talent has a great opportunity here to prove its value. 3-2 Dartmouth.

St. Cloud State at Colgate 7:30
A Frozen Four member last April, SCSU is 1-0-1 after last weekend’s home deuce with Bemidji State. Colgate is .500 (2-2-1), but is still a bit of an unknown quantity. A win over the Huskies would be a significant one for the Raiders, but I’m not sure they’re up for it yet… the ‘Gate has been a bit rusty in its own end, surrendering seven goals twice (along with two one-goal games and a shutout). 3-2 SCSU.

Cornell at Nebraska-Omaha 8:37
Not sure what to make of Cornell yet, but here’s UNO: Home split with Bentley, road split at Northern Michigan. Cornell is hungry for a bounce-back season, and you know Mike Schafer will have his boys ready from the first face-off. Sorry I can’t be more insightful, but that’s the way these early-season games go. 3-1 Cornell.

Saturday, October 26

Brown vs. Dartmouth 4:00 Liberty Hockey Invitational, Prudential Center; Newark, N.J.
Smart money takes Dartmouth, but I can’t shake the feeling that Brown will leave the Garden State with some points (even though these are non-conference games, so there are technically no points at stake). The Bears just have a way of stealing games at unpredictable times, in very predictable ways: Hard work, gritty hockey, exceptional goaltending. Will Saturday feature some larceny? Look for it… though I’m still picking Dartmouth, 4-2.

Holy Cross at Quinnipiac 4:00
Afternoon games can be brutal… poor attendance, quick turnaround, especially after a drive (even if it’s only a two-hour trip). Expectaction: Sloppy hockey, half-full rink, QU victory. 3-1 Q.
UPDATE: Call me lazy. Call me cynical. Call me sloppy, sarcastic, or snide… but mostly, call me wrong. Quinnipiac’s TD Bank Sports Center ticket office has confirmed that Saturday’s matinee is, in fact, completely sold out. Kudos to the Bobcats – and even more to their fans – for achieving what is often a steep challenge. While my analysis is flawed in part, the score prediction stands.

New Hampshire at Rensselaer 7:00
RPI takes on its third top-flight Hockey East opponent of the year, having dropped a stinker at Boston College, edged BU in Boston, now taking on UNH in Troy. The Wildcats are sub-.500 (1-2-1), but those losses have come at Minnesota and against Michigan. The visitors will not be happy with anything short of a win in the Capital District, which makes the game all that more meaningful for the Engineers. RPI has national aspirations; this is another big early-season litmus test. I’m picking frustrated UNH, however, 4-2.

St. Cloud State at Colgate 7:00
Colgate is still a good step or two behind the Huskies, for the time being. SCSU sweeps in Hamilton, 4-1.

Colorado College at Clarkson 7:00
CC bounces back and splits a competitive weekend pair, 4-3.

Northeastern at St. Lawrence 7:00
Call it a split: Wish I could be in the North Country this weekend, because this series is shaping up to be a doozy. 3-2 NU.

Princeton vs. Yale 7:05 Liberty Hockey Invitational, Prudential Center; Newark, N.J.
Yale will be getting all the picks until they prove they shouldn’t. 5-3 Yale.

Bentley at Harvard 7:30
Don’t count Bentley out too soon; the Falcons downed Nebraska-Omaha on the road to open the season, and played Quinnipiac tight in Hamden on Tuesday. That said, Harvard, 3-2.

Cornell at Nebraska-Omaha 8:07
Split? Or sweep? Tough call… I guess that’s why they pay me the big bucks . Coin flip says… Cornell. Anyone got a Magic 8 Ball? 4-3 Red.

Tuesday, October 29

Harvard at Rensselaer 7:00
RPI claims the first points of the ECAC Hockey regular season, and takes its first official step toward the crown… what, too soon? 4-2 RPI.