Atlantic Hockey Picks, March 14-16 (Playoffs: Quarterfinals)

Last Week:
Dan: 6-5 (Talk about your late season slides. -Dan)
Chris: 9-2

On the season:
Dan: 150-83-23 (.631)
Chris: 156-77-23 (.654)

This Week’s Picks

Friday, March 14 – Sunday, March 16 (Best of three series):

No. 8 Holy Cross at No. 1 Mercyhurst
Dan: There are three things that are certain in life – death, taxes, and Mercyhurst-Holy Cross with a chance to go to Rochester. Holy Cross has a chance in this series in that Matt Ginn can steal a couple of games, but the Lakers are one of those programs that seem destined for something great. In the end, the one Achilles’ heel facing Mercyhurst – their defense – plays right into the weakness of Holy Cross – their offense. Jimmy Sarjeant can bail out this team with the best of them, and there’s no reason why the Lakers don’t advance. Mercyhurst in a sweep.
Chris: This is the third consecutive season the teams have met in the quarterfinals and the Lakers have advanced both times. I think they make it three in a row. Holy Cross has solid, experienced goaltending and some offensive talent , but the Lakers have so many weapons and the best goalie in the league. The Lakers will lose if they beat themselves, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.  Mercyhrust in two.

No. 7 Canisius at No. 2 Bentley
Dan: This is an ultra intriguing matchup. Bentley has the chance to exorcise the demons from last year’s collapse when they got swept in the first round in Buffalo. Canisius has a championship pedigree, winning their last 10 AHA playoff games (sweep Bentley, sweep Air Force, beat Niagara, beat Mercyhurst, sweep Sacred Heart). While much of the attention is on Bentley’s high octane offense against Canisius’ lock down defense (which didn’t allow a single goal against Sacred Heart last week), the X factor is Bentley’s defense against Canisius’ offense. This could be Branden Komm’s time to shine. Bentley in three.
Chris: This is going to be a fun series between two teams with experienced goaltenders and guys that can score. The pressure is on Bentley, as it was on Air Force last season when the Griffs (also the seven seed then) shocked them in Colorado Springs. But Bentley is on a mission and after a few missteps down the stretch should be ready to go. Last season, some Canisius players had fun on Twitter pointing out that I picked against them in each of the seven times they won down the stretch to capture the title, so here you go, guys.  Bentley in two.

No.  6 Niagara at No. 3 Air Force
Dan: Air Force was uncharacteristic down the stretch, going 3-3. But if you look further, that extrapolates to 6-3 with a sweep over Mercyhurst in there. Niagara is good, but they’re not great. Smart money’s on Air Force not missing Rochester after a one year absence. Air Force in two.
Chris: Niagara isn’t the powerhouse it was last season, but if rookie goaltender Jackson Reichroeb has another great weekend, this will go three. And I think it will, but the Falcons, determined not to lose on home ice in the quarterfinals again, will pull this out. Air Force in three. 

No. 5 Robert Morris at No. 4 Connecticut
Dan: Ordinarily, I’d look at this series, pick Robert Morris, and immediately wince if they lost because it’s been my running joke all year. But this pick became more serious when Terry Shafer went down against Army and the Colonials found themselves needing to win a third game. UConn is the league’s best defense, and defenses win championships. I love Coach Schooley, and RMU is probably my favorite team not called Bentley or RIT. But my gut is telling me to go with the Huskies in this one in an AHA farewell to Freitas Forum. UConn in three.
Chris: We don’t know the status of regular RMU goaltender Terry Shafer, who was injured in the Colonials’ first-round series with Army. Coach Derek Schooley has said that it will be a game time decision, which is what a coach would say no matter what in a playoff situation. If he’s healthy I’d be inclined to say this will go three games with a possible RMU upset. But my gut tells me this UConn team, because of its senior class which is leading by example on the stat sheet, will find a way to get back to Rochester. UConn in three.