Atlantic Hockey Picks, Dec. 12 – 14

Last week:

Dan: 5-4-1
Chris: 7-2-1

On the season:

Dan: 58-37-13 (.597)
Chris: 63-2-13 (.645)


This Week’s Picks:

Friday, December 12 and Saturday, December 13
Niagara vs. Rochester Institute of Technology
Dan: Chris will tell you about the problems RIT’s has winning in general against Niagara, having never beaten them at either team’s home rink. While I don’t see Wayne Wilson as the kind of guy who would really care about history the same way we do, I also see the trend continuing through this weekend. Niagara is starting to heat up, and that has me thinking they’re starting to get the wheels moving. Niagara sweeps.
Chris:Niagara has owned RIT since the Tigers moved to Division I: 12-1-7 including 9-0-4 at Dwyer Arena, where Saturday’s game will be held. Friday’s contest will be at the new Polisseni Center, and maybe the change of venue will do the Tigers some good – they were 0-3-3 against Niagara at Ritter Arena (the lone RIT win in the series came at Blue Cross Arena in the 2012 semifinals). So I’m going with RIT on Friday and Niagara on Saturday.

Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14
Robert Morris at Mercyhurst
Dan: Virtually everyone should have this series circled on their calendar given the two teams proximity and talent levels. Simply put – this could be the weekend of the year in Atlantic Hockey. That said, I’m going to boil this weekend down to goaltending- Dalton Izyk and Terry Shafer have been solid enough to get RMU into the national rankings, and Mercyhurst’s normally sound netminders haven’t been posting the same type of statistics we’ve grown accustomed to. At present? I’m taking RMU. In the playoffs? We’ll see. RMU sweeps.
Chris:This is another series with a short trip for the visiting team as the Western Pennsylvania rivals clash. These teams were picked No. 1 (Mercyhurst)and No. 2 (RMU) in the preseason standings, and while the 17th-ranked Colonials are off to a great start (8-1-3, good for first place), the Lakers are five points behind in fifth place but have three games in hand. It’s a chance for Robert Morris to put some distance between a close competitor, of for ‘Hurst to pull the Colonials back to the pack. This will be a fantastic series, and I’m going with my gut and a Mercyhurst sweep.

Bentley at American International
Dan: I seem to love harping on goaltending and defense, so indulge me another weekend of focus. Jayson Argue is turning heads with a .947 save percentage and a 1.51 goals against average in his first four games. If he qualified for the national stats by playing in 33% of his team minutes with those stats, he’d be ranked fourth in Division I in save percentage. That said, he gets his first taste of an AIC team that seems to always play the Falcons tough, going 3-3 over the past two seasons against their Northeast-10 Conference rivals. They’ll play twice this year thanks to Atlantic Hockey scheduling, which makes these games even more “high stakes.” That said, edge right now to Bentley. Bentley sweeps.
Chris: AIC always seems to give the Falcons fits but even though I think the talent/depth gap continues to narrow between the two squads, I”m looking for Bentley to put together a four-point road weekend. Goaltending was Bentley’s biggest question coming into this season, and they may have found the answer in Jason Argue. Bentley sweeps.

Sunday, December 14
Sacred Heart at Dartmouth
Dan: Sick of me talking defense yet? Let’s break this down a little bit – James Kruger is playing nearly every minute for Dartmouth this season and rocks a 1.87 GAA and .932 save percentage. Naysayers will point to Sacred Heart’s struggles last week stopping Robert Morris, but I truly believe those are outliers. Whoever plays for the Pioneers will prove me right since anyone watching those games saw a team that wasn’t overmatched at all. That said, Kruger is in another stratosphere right now, including the 12th best save percentage in the land.  Dartmouth wins in a very low-scoring game.
Chris: This is a great opportunity for Sacred Heart to steal a game. The Pioneers gave Robert Morris all they could handle last weekend, and have rarely been out of any game so far.  However, I like Dartmouth as a dark horse in the ECAC this season, and they’ve already knocked off Union, Boston University and tied Harvard. I’m going with Dartmouth in a close one.