Atlantic Hockey Picks, Jan. 9-14

Last Week:
Dan: 6-5-1
Chris: 5-6-1

On the season:
Dan: 95-43-13 (.672)
Chris: 94-44-13 (.666)

This Week’s Picks

Thursday, Jan 9 and Friday, Jan 10:
Robert Morris at UConn
Dan: Robert Morris got back on track last week with a pair of wins against Sacred Heart. But that UConn team is firing on all cylinders; they can taste the top two in the league after it looked like Bentley and Mercyhurst were runaways. Even with a Bentley split against RIT, UConn can take second place. That opportunity is going to be huge for a very talented Huskies squad at home. UConn sweeps.
Chris: This is a rematch of a quarterfinal playoff series last season, won by the Huskies. UConn is 4-1-1 against teams from the Western scheduling pod so far, 7-1 at home this season and 5-1 in their last six, overall so I’m going with the homestanding Huskies. UConn sweeps.  

Friday, Jan 10 and Saturday, Jan 11:
Air Force at Army
Dan:  I love it when the service academies play against one another. I have a feeling Saturday will be closer than Friday’s national television game. I think the goaltending situation for Air Force is still a little hairy without Jason Torf, and I keep waiting for Rob Tadazak to steal a game from someone. I think it happens this weekend; Army played to a 3-3 tie last year after losing big on Friday. And everyone knows I love making a couple of bold picks. Air Force wins on Friday. Army wins on Saturday.
Chris: Expect a pair of intense games. as has been the case in most of the 59 previous meetings between the schools (Air Force has the edge 32-22-5). Friday’s game is going to be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network, and Saturday’s contest is already sold out. A split wouldn’t surprise me, but I’m going with the visiting Falcons to sweep a pair of close games.

Rochester Institute of Technology at Bentley
Dan: This is one of my favorite, more recent rivalries in the AHA (mostly because it’s the USCHO Bowl between Chris and me this year), with the two teams’ having an intense respect and desire to beat one another. This gets goaltender matchup of the week awards with Mike Rotolo against Branden Komm. The difference is Bentley’s offense – RIT only scored 12 goals over their last five games, eight of which came against AIC, while Bentley’s notched 19. Still, there’s no way Wayne Wilson lets his team lose four in a row in league play. Bentley wins on Friday. RIT wins on Saturday.
Chris: Both teams are looking to rebound after disappointing weekends. Recent meetings have usually resulted in a split, but I like Bentley to sweep if it can win the battle of special teams, which I think the Falcons will do on home ice. Bentley sweeps.

Mercyhurst at Holy Cross
Mercyhurst might not be able to win non-conference games (going 2-8-1), but they’re 9-1-1 against the AHA. This is a big opportunity to continue separating themselves from the rest of the league. Holy Cross might get a point, but they’re 0-3-2 in their last five league games (0-3 in their last three). Mercyhurst sweeps
Chris: This series is a tossup for me, as both teams have been hot and cold in recent weeks. That means a split. Mercyhurst wins Friday; Holy Cross wins Saturday.

American International at Niagara
Dan: AIC can’t rely on late-game collapses every week, scoring two goals in the last couple of minutes to tie Air Force on Friday, then win in OT. Top to bottom, Niagara isn’t great on an individual level, but they’re big, strong, and when clicking, they’re are a lot better team than their record indicates. Last week’s tie and win at Bentley wasn’t an aberration. Niagara sweeps.
Chris: The Purple Eagles shouldn’t take AIC lightly in their exuberance to play on home ice for the first time since Nov. 16 (they went 1-5-2 since then in eight road contests). I think one game will be close and one won’t, but both to go in Niagara’s favor. Niagara sweeps.  

Saturday, Jan. 11 and Sunday, Jan. 12
Sacred Heart at Canisius
Dan: If the Canisius team that pounded Army, 8-2, and swept Holy Cross last week shows up, the Golden Griffins will take an easy four points. But Sacred Heart is sneaky not bad, and Canisius did lose the second game of that Army weekend after their six-goal win. Don’t be shocked if the Pioneers get points out of this. Canisius sweeps.
Chris: Canisius scored a pair of big wins at Holy Cross last weekend to regain the momentum it had in late November and early December. I think the Golden Griffins will keep it going against the Pioneers. Canisius sweeps.   

Tuesday, January 14
American International at Massachusetts 
Dan:  UMass is not a particularly good Hockey East team, and the AHA has had that league’s number at times for whatever reason. Still, it’s in the middle of a brutal stretch for the Yellow Jackets. If nothing else, this is AIC’s shortest road trip, going 23 miles from West Springfield to Amherst in that mythical land of Western Massachusetts, so the lack of bus lag will keep it closer against a Minutemen team coming off games at Cornell and against the US U-18 team. Very reluctantly, UMass wins
Chris: The Minutemen are finishing up a stretch where they’ve played mostly ranked teams, while AIC has just one win in its last 11 games. That’s a recipe for a UMass win.