Atlantic Hockey Picks, Jan. 17-19

Last Week:
Dan: 7-6
Chris: 8-5

On the season:
Dan: 102-49-13 (.662)
Chris: 102-49-13 (.662)

This Week’s Picks

Friday, Jan 17 and Saturday, Jan 18:
Sacred Heart at Air Force
Dan: Air Force tends to go on runs every year that end the year with them finishing ludicrously strong.  Last year they lost only twice after January 5th.  The year before, they lost three after the same weekend in the first-weekend-in-January part of the schedule.  They’re getting stronger, which means sweepsville in Colorado for them.  Air Force sweeps.
Chris: The Pioneers are good for an upset win in Colorado Springs – they’ve done it before. But Air Force is coming off its first sweep of rival Army in 13 years and, pardon the pun, are flying high. Air Force sweeps. 

Connecticut at Mercyhurst
Dan: This is going to be a pick ’em weekend.  UConn is capable of beating anybody, and Mercyhurst is on the verge of running away with the league’s top seed already.  Slight edge this week to Mercyhurst, but I really think UConn is going to take a game somewhere in here.  As much as I hate picking splits, I think this one splits.  Mercyhurst on FridayUConn on Saturday.
Chris: This looks to be a fantastic series between two top teams with high-powered offenses and great goaltending. I think they Lakers have a slight edge between the pipes and that will be the difference. Mercyhurst sweeps.

Holy Cross at Niagara
Niagara has some major issues in net.  Holy Cross has some major issues on offense.  The X factor is the fact that Matt Ginn has been a stalwart, even as his Crusaders are 0-6-2 since upsetting Boston College.  I’m taking Holy Cross to sweep, but I feel zero confidence in that pick.  Think Purple Eagle fans wish Carsen Chubak stayed for his fourth year?
Chris: The Purple Eagles stumbled last weekend with a split against American International, and still need to sort out their goaltending situation. On the other end of the spectrum, Holy Cross netminder Matt Ginn has made 43 consecutive starts and  has been solid so far this but he’s not getting a lot of offensive support.  I’m thinking split. Holy Cross wins Friday; Niagara on Saturday. 

Army at Rochester Institute of Technology
Dan: Despite what the 4-1 score indicated, I thought RIT played Bentley evenly on Saturday last weekend; it was a 2-1 game until a bad penalty and an empty net goal dropped the Tigers to their eventual outcome.  The biggest problem facing RIT this weekend is the goalie matchup; Rob Tadazak is better than his stats would indicate, and the last two weekends gave the Tigers fits and questions in net.  Maybe home cooking is just what they needed, even though I think Army could win one of these games on the smaller Ritter rink.  RIT sweeps.
Chris: Both teams come in on losing streaks: RIT hasn’t won in five games (0-4-1) and the Black Knight have dropped five straight. It’s the first time on home ice in 41 days for the Tigers, who will be home for nine of their next ten contests. There’s no doubt that Army goalie Rob Tadazak can steal a game, but I think the Tigers keep their 13-game unbeaten streak against Army going. RIT sweeps. 

American International at Robert Morris
Dan: Robert Morris has won three of their last four; AIC is playing .500 puck over the last month with wins over Air Force, Niagara, and whatever we want to call what happened when they gave up 60 shots and beat UMass.  I don’t think anyone wants to play these teams right now since they’re both capable of beating anyone, which of course means they play each other.  Slight edge to the Colonials for playing better team defense last week.  RMU sweeps.
Chris: This matchup is an example of how unpredictable the AHA is. I can make a case for a convincing sweep for both teams, each of which has looked like a top-tier team one night and a cellar dweller the next.  I’m going for another split. AIC wins Friday; RMU on Saturday. 

Saturday, Jan. 18 and Sunday, Jan. 19
Bentley at Canisius
Dan: The free-falling Falcons lost in two straight at Canisius last year in the first round of the playoffs and provided the perfect foil to the Griffs, who went onto the NCAA Tournament.  this year, Bentley comes in ranked second in the league in offense, second in the league in defense, first in power play efficient, second in penalty killing efficiency, and best in combined special teams and scoring margin.  Canisius goalies Keegan Asmundson and Tony Capobianco will provide a good challenge with their strong defensive line, but I still think Bentley sweeps.
Chris: I saw Bentley play last weekend and the Falcons looked like a team who could do some damage in the NCAA tournament, if they can avoid the slump that started around this time last season and put away teams like Canisius, who are typically solid defensively on home ice. A split wouldn’t surprise me but I’m going with a Falcons sweep in a pair of close games.