Atlantic Hockey Picks, Jan. 23-25

Last Week:
Dan: 8-0-4
Chris: 7-1-4

On the season:
Dan: 110-49-17 (.673)
Chris: 109-50-17 (.668)

This Week’s Picks

Thursday, Jan. 23 and Saturday, Jan. 25:
Mercyhurst vs. Canisius

Dan: This is one of those series where you throw records out the window. Mercyhurst is 11-1-3 in league play but is coming off two ties against Connecticut. Canisius lost and tied Bentley in games where they had leads they couldn’t hold. Both have very high ceilings – Canisius beat Mercyhurst last year to advance to the NCAA Tournament. But I can’t help but think Mercyhurst is going to bounce back this weekend and be all kinds of geared up for Canisius. I think they take three points, but since I can’t pick ties, I’ll go with a Laker sweep.
Chris: The teams meet for the 76th and 77th time in this rivalry that dates back to 1987. Canisius won the biggest game in the series history: 7-2 in the AHA title game last season. The Golden Griffins are also the only team that has beaten the Lakers in league play this season. Still, I’m going with the Lakers to sweep.

Friday, Jan. 24 and Saturday, Jan. 25
Connecticut vs American International
Dan: As I mentioned in this week’s column, I have no idea what to make of AIC anymore. They’re averaging 40 shots allowed per game, yet they’re in a very good position as they get set for a stretch run against eastern teams. I’ve never felt good about picking against them, but the stats against them are way too glaring at times. UConn sweeps
Chris: AIC has showed it’s capable of knocking off anyone in the conference, but I think the Huskies are playing the kind of hockey right now that avoids upsets. UConn sweeps. 

Rochester Institute of Technology vs. Niagara
Contrary to past years when RIT had one stalwart goalie they could rely on, they’re running into a case of riding the hot hand in net this year. Jordan Ruby is heating up, so I think they can ride him clear to their first victory ever at Niagara. They return home on Saturday, where they won’t leave until the playoffs are in the process of being decided. RIT sweeps.
Chris: Past performance isn’t an indicator of future results and all that. Except when it is. It stops being a coincidence when eight of the last 11 games between these two teams has gone to overtime. RIT has only been on the winning end of one of those contests, and has never won against Niagara at Dwyer Arena, which is where Friday’s nationally televised game on CBS Sports Network, will take place. Saturday the action shifts to Ritter Arena, where RIT will play its next seven games. Since I can’t pick ties, I’m going with the home team in each game. Niagara wins Friday; RIT wins Saturday. 

Air Force at Robert Morris
Dan: Air Force hasn’t lost since their third period/overtime collapse against AIC. But then again, their five games were their return match with AIC, two against Army, and two against Sacred Heart and goalie Chris Truehl hasn’t been fully tested by a top-to-bottom offense. RMU is also pistol hot, but with the exception of their UConn split, it’s come at the expense of AIC and Sacred Heart as well. Translation: this can go either way. Air Force wins on Friday; Robert Morris on Saturday
Chris: Both teams come into this series playing well: Air Force has won five in a row, and RMU is 4-1-1 in its last six. In November, the Falcons built a 4-1 lead and then held on for a 4-3 win on home ice. This time the home advantage is with the Colonials, but I think Air Force wins a pair of close games. Air Force sweeps.

Saturday, Jan. 25
Bentley at Holy Cross
Dan: Bentley clinched its first series win since 2009 when they beat Holy Cross at Fenway Park. In the dog days of the season, the Falcons are finding ways to not lose points, while Holy Cross cured its major offensive issues with a sweep of Niagara last week. In both games this year, Bentley came from behind to beat the ‘Saders. Make no mistake – this is a rivalry. Bentley wins a close, tough, emotional game.
Chris: This was supposed to be a home-and-home weekend series, but Friday’s game was moved up for Frozen Fenway and played on Dec. 28.  This is the final regular season meeting between the schools with the Falcons winning the two previous games by identical 3-2 scores. I like Bentley to stay hot and win another close game. Bentley wins.