Atlantic Hockey Picks, Dec. 27- 30

Last week:

Dan: 3-2-2
Chris: 4-1-2

On the season:

Dan: 61-39-15 (.596)
Chris: 67-33-15 (.648)


This Week’s Picks:

Saturday, December 27
Sacred Heart vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Dan: This will be a game between two very balanced teams. There’s a slight edge here to the River Hawks defensively with a couple of really solid two-way player guys, but if the entire Pioneer unit can rise to the occasion, they’ll pick off a win here. I wouldn’t put a win coming out to the side of red and white, but for now, I’m going to pick UML to win.
Chris:The last times these teams met (Oct. 11, 2013),Lowell was the No. 1 team in the country and SHU was coming off a 2-30-4 season. The Pioneers, of course, won 2-1. Despite Sacred Heart showing steady improvement, I think the River Hawks win this round. Mass-Lowell wins.

Sunday, December 28
Sacred Heart vs. Union/Connecticut
Dan: If it’s Union, I’m taking the Dutchmen, but there’s something about the in-state rivalry that’ll have the Pioneers juiced up. Union/Sacred Heart wins.
Chris:Sacred Heart defeated UConn in this tournament last year, but I think both the Huskies or the Dutchmen will prevail. Union/UConn wins.

Air Force at Vermont
Dan:Air Force entered the break listless, losing three out of four games. After a 22-day layoff, they have to hope their team skates better together in order to compete with a Vermont team that played the best hockey of their season heading into the holidays. The Catamounts haven’t lost since November 21st. Vermont wins.
Chris:Is it time for the Falcons to begin their annual second-half surge? Not yet, I think against the host Catamounts. Vermont wins.

Monday, December 29
Air Force vs. Massachusetts
Dan:I’m with Chris in this one. UMass isn’t a very good hockey team, getting absolutely throttled in their last three games before break. A loss here will ratchet up the heat on head coach John Micheletto’s seat just a little bit. Air Force wins.
Chris:This tournament has a predetermined schedule, which means win or lose Air Force gets the Minutemen in the second game. And I like them to win this one. Air Force wins.

Robert Morris vs. Penn State
Dan:Absolutely nothing beats a game between these two in Pittsburgh. Last year, over 8,500 fans witnessed a third period Penn State comeback for a 3-2 win. The year before, 11,663 watched RMU destroy a team in its first year as a Division I program. Emotions will run high, a rivalry will be renewed, and RMU will win.
Chris:Both teams are ranked and playing very well at the moment. I’m going with the Colonials to pull out a close but high-scoring game. RMU wins.

Tuesday, December 30
American International at Clarkson
Dan:The drive back from Clarkson is so long, AIC might not make it back by 2015 if they hit an infamous WNY snowstorm. The losing streak (currently at 10) will end soon because the Yellow Jackets played well before the break, but it won’t be here. Clarkson wins.
Chris: Potsdam, N.Y. is  a long way to go for a single game, and I don’t think it will be worth the trip for the Yellow Jackets. Clarkson wins at home.

Yale at Holy Cross
Dan:This game could boil down to special teams. Yale might be a top-15 penalty killing unit, but it’s because the refs never actually call any penalties on them (least penalized team in the nation at 6.7 minutes per game). Their power play, on the other hand, is under 10%, one of the worst in the nation. Compare that to Holy Cross, a top five team in penalty killing while ranking in the top 20 in power play scoring. Holy Cross wins.
Chris:I’ve seen both these teams this season and they remind me of each other – tough team defense, a good forecheck and great goaltending. But I think Yale is deeper, so I’m going with the Bulldogs to pull this one out on the road. Yale wins.

Robert Morris vs. Western Michigan/Colgate
Dan:This is going to turn into a must-win game for an RMU team currently ranked 21st in the Pairwise Rankings. They need these victories to drive towards an at-large bid. Any out-of-conference loss all but assures the AHA of one team and one team only in the big dance. That’s a situation calling for RMU’s well-documented compete level. RMU wins regardless of opponent.
Chris:I’m going to split on this one. I think RMU will prevail against Western but would fall to Colgate should they meet. So I’m going with RMU to defeat WMU or RMU to lose to the Raiders.