Atlantic Hockey Picks Nov. 22-26

Last Week:
Dan: 11-2
Chris: 9-4

On the season:
Dan: 56-24-5 (.688)
Chris: 59-21-5 (.724)

This Week’s Picks

Friday, Nov. 22 and Saturday, Nov. 23:
Holy Cross at Robert Morris
Dan: Holy Cross has a team that just doesn’t quit.  So does Robert Morris.  A big weekend by either of this team can create some separation between themselves and the lower part of the league.  We predicted RMU to finish middle-to-high.  We said the same with Holy Cross.  They’ll split.  Holy Cross wins Friday; RMU wins on Saturday.
Chris:The season really begins to take shape when you start seeing the two-game series between east and west scheduling pod teams. This is just the second such series played this season, and it’ll be a good one with two teams in the middle of the pack looking to break out. The teams split in the Crusaders’ last visit in 2012 and I think they’ll do it again. Robert Morris wins Friday; Holy Cross wins Saturday.

Rensselaer at Mercyhurst
Dan: RPI got swept last weekend by Union in a series they should’ve taken at least three points in as the preseason league champion.  Mercyhurst is rolling.  But there will be too much Engineers.  RPI sweeps.
Chris: This is the second non-AHA team to visit the Mercyhurst Ice Center this season, a rarity. RPI has never played there, but that disadvantage is offset by that No. 14 ranking. The Engineers are probably still smarting from last weekend’s sweep at the hands of arch-rival Union. I think they rebound here. RPI sweeps.

St. Lawrence at Rochester Institute of Technology
Dan: RIT is really struggling, and as good as I think they can be, I’m starting to sway against them.  SLU has a dynamic offense that can carry a sometimes-lapse in defense and goaltending.  When I saw them play at Brown earlier this year, their ability to explode out of a zone was pretty amazing.  SLU sweeps.
Chris: The Tigers always seem to give SLU trouble, dating all the way back to RIT’s first season in Division I when they stunned the then 14th ranked Saints at Ritter Arena. Two seasons ago it was an amazing come-from-behind victory for RIT at Blue Cross Arena. The teams played a fairly even series in the North Country last season, splitting the games. But RIT is struggling right now to play a full 60 minutes of hockey, and lapses in almost every game have been costly. SLU dropped out of the Poll this week after a pair of tough losses at home to Colgate and Cornell, but I think are the better team and will rebound here against a desperate Tiger squad. SLU sweeps

Denver vs. Air Force
Dan: Air Force is on fire these days, and I think that might be enough for them to upset the Pioneers at home, as crazy as that might sound.  They’re not winning on Saturday, though.  Air Force on Friday.  Denver on Saturday.
Chris: Denver leads the all-time series 32-3 with the Falcons’ last win coming in 2008. The teams play at The Academy on Friday and then move to Magness Arena on Saturday. Air Force is on a (Rocky Mountain) high after beating cross-town rival Colorado College on Tuesday, but I think will come up short in this series. Denver sweeps.

Sacred Heart vs Army
Dan: Both teams are extremely Jekyll and Hyde.  They’ll play well for swaths of a game, then shoot themselves in the foot.  As an editorial, playing each other for points now is going to come back and haunt both teams if they’re in a playoff race later in the year.  SHU wins on Friday.  Army wins on Saturday.
Chris: These squads are getting their season series over quickly – they just played back on Nov. 11 with the Black Knights coming out on top 6-2. Their second and third (and final) meetings see Army hosting on Friday and he action shifting to Milford on Saturday. I’m picking the Black Knights to sweep this weekend and the season series. Army sweeps.


Friday, Nov. 22:
Niagara at Michigan
Dan: Michigan is ranked #5 in the nation.  With the way the AHA has played in non-conference games this year, it’s not if the Wolverines will win, it’s by how much.  Michigan wins.
Chris: Niagara has played a tough non-conference schedule (Clarkson, Denver, Ohio State) and it doesn’t get any easier with the No. 5 Wolverines. Michigan wins.


Saturday, Nov. 23:
Connecticut at American International
Dan: For the early part of the year, this is the eastern pod’s showcase game of the first half right now.  If AIC wins, they’re going to be a serious contender.  If UConn wins, AIC is still a contender, but the noise will come out of the woodwork if their run is starting to plateau.  Right now, this game is a little bit more important to UConn because of the loss last week.  AIC is in this for the long haul, but I think there’s too much goalie in Storrs for the plucky AIC offense.  UConn wins.
Chris: UConn needs a win to re-establish itself as one of the top teams in the AHA, while the Yellow Jackets can add to their record-setting start in conference play. At the beginning of the season I wouldn’t have called this game a tossup, but it’s a tough one to call with UConn having a slight edge. Connecticut wins.


Tuesday, Nov. 26
Army at American International
Dan: See below.  AIC wins.
Chris:After what I predict to be a loss on Saturday, I expect the Yellow Jackets to rebound here. AIC wins.

Niagara at Cornell
Dan: Going to Cornell is something everyone should do once in their life.  But I mean that as a fan, not as an opponent.  Cornell wins.
Chris: Another game, another ranked opponent for the Purple Eagles, who travel to Ithaca to face the No. 18 Big Red. Unfortunately, I think Niagara’s non-conference schedule concludes with a loss. Cornell wins.