ECAC Hockey picks: Jan. 31 – Feb. 3

Overall: 51-35-8

It’s hard to believe, but we’re down to the last month of regular season play in the ECAC. All games are 7 p.m., with the exception of Monday’s Beanpot opener between Harvard and Northeastern.

Friday, Jan. 31

Colgate at Brown

Brown can ill-afford a repeat of Saturday’s penalty-filled first period against Yale, where the Bulldogs scored three quick power-play goals en route to a 6-0 win. Like Yale, Colgate has the talent to capitalize on those openings.  The Raiders have won a nation-best six games in a row, and are 7-2-3 on the road. It’s hard to go against that streak. Colgate wins

Rensselaer at Clarkson

RPI will be down several key players following the brawl at the conclusion of Saturday’s Mayor’s Cup game. Leading scorer Ryan Haggerty and linemate Mike Zalewski are both suspended, along with defensemen Bo Dolan and Luke Curadi. Head coach Seth Appert was also given a belated one-game suspension by the league. This is a big weekend for the Golden Knights – they appeared to snap out of a skid two weeks ago, but then got swept last weekend. For a team on the edge of the NCAA tournament bubble as well as in the hunt for a first-round bye, these are two points Clarkson can’t let get away, especially at home against a depleted opponent. Clarkson wins

Quinnipiac at Dartmouth 

The Big Green hung with Quinnipiac during a 3-1 loss in Hamden back in November. Dartmouth goalie Charles Grant has been better than his numbers suggest, but I’m not sure if the Big Green will have an answer for the Bobcats’ puck-possession.  Quinnipiac wins     

Princeton at Harvard

It’s the the 100th anniversary of the rivalry between the Tigers and Crimson. Harvard holds a commanding 148-58-11 edge in the series, but the Crimson are just 6-7-1 in games preceding the Beanpot since 2010. This is usually the time of the year that Harvard seems to pick it up – and they’ll face a Tigers team that is coming over nearly a three-week break for exams. Harvard wins

Union at St. Lawrence        

If there was ever a time for the Saints to break their lengthy slump, this was it. The Dutchmen will be without captain Mat Bodie, and forwards Eli Lichtenwald and Daniel Ciampani, as well as head coach Rick Bennett due to discipline stemming from the Mayor’s Cup brawl.  But Union had a rash of injuries earlier in the season, which gave  other players a chance to step in and contribute. The Dutchmen will have to hope that happens again. Union wins

Cornell at Yale      

Travel-partner Colgate has gotten much of the attention, but the Big Red are on a seven-game unbeaten streak that’s tied with the Raiders for the fourth-longest in the country.  Yale’s goaltending and defense have gotten better as the season has progressed, and in this close matchup, I’ll give the edge to the home team. Yale wins          

Saturday, Feb.1

Cornell at Brown   

Both teams play a similar style, but Cornell has been playing better lately, while Brown has alternated wins and losses over its last four games. I realize calling for a Cornell win means the Bears will be swept at home, but both the Raiders and Big Red have been on fire lately. Cornell wins    

Union at Clarkson     

Even minus Bodie and Bennett, I think Union should have enough to get past the Golden Knights. Union wins        

Princeton at Dartmouth

The Big Green had a 3-0 first-period lead the last time these teams met, only to lose 5-4 in overtime.  Dartmouth’s defense has struggled this season, but do  the Tigers have the firepower to take advantage? Dartmouth wins

 Rensselaer at St. Lawrence

Haggerty and Zalewski will be back for this game, and Scott Diebold has played better in goal of late. That should be enough to hold off a Saints team that hasn’t won since the end of November. Rensselaer wins.

Colgate at Yale

The Bulldogs’ veteran defensive corps will have its hands full with the Raiders. Will they have enough to slow down the league’s hottest team? I’m tempted to call a tie, but that’s taking the easy way out. I don’t have any reason to pick against the Raiders. Colgate wins

Monday, Feb. 3

Harvard vs. Northeastern, 5 p.m.  (Beanpot first round)

Due to the rotating schedule of the Beanpot, one of these teams will have a chance to break a lengthy title drought in the tournament.  Harvard hasn’t won since 1993, while it’s been since 1988 for Northeastern. That aside, the matchup I’ll be watching is Huskies forward Kevin Roy against Crimson goalie Raphael Girard, and the Harvard offense against NU goalie Clay Witt. Both Girard and Witt have been outstanding this season, while Roy won tournament MVP last season despite being on the losing team.  Harvard looked plenty fast against Yale at MSG earlier in January, but the Crimson weren’t able to turn that speed into goals. Not sure if they can do it here, either. Northeastern wins