Atlantic Hockey Picks, Jan. 2- 4

Last week:

Dan: 5-3
Chris: 7-1

On the season:

Dan: 66-42-15 (.598)
Chris: 74-34-15 (.663)


This Week’s Picks:

Friday, January 2 and Saturday, January 3
American International vs. Army
Dan: Army enters this game after really showing some guts against the Russian Red Stars. Down 2-0 after one, Zak Zaremba scored twice to help West Point stake a 3-2 lead. Maksim Nikolaev scored to tie it late, but I think the game will really help Army get back on their legs before the start of the season. AIC is coming off an incredibly long road trip to Clarkson, where they lost the game late, 4-3. This is going to be a fun weekend, and I’m calling for a split with the home team winning each night. Friday’s in West Point, with Saturday in Springfield.Army wins on Friday. AIC wins on Saturday.
Chris: Both teams are coming off good efforts, and I too am thinking split, in the same order. Army wins on Friday; AIC on Saturday.

Air Force at Holy Cross
Dan: Huge weekend matchup as Air Force attempts to put the bad taste of the first half to bed against the league’s second best team. The Falcons’ high powered offense sputtered against Bentley last month, and they cannot have that happen against a Holy Cross defense that’s downright nasty.Holy Cross sweeps.
Chris: Air Force is really struggling and Holy Cross is coming off a penalty-filled loss to Yale. Falcons coach Frank Serratore has told me that the Hart Center is one of the toughest places in the league to play, and I think that will be the case this weekend. Holy Cross sweeps.

Niagara at Sacred Heart
Dan: I’m very high on the Pioneers, but I also think Niagara is much better than their last place record indicates. This series starts six in a row on the road for a Niagara team that has to go to Connecticut, Colorado, and North Dakota in consecutive weekends. They win this weekend, but that’s a lot of travel to be wary of later this month.Niagara sweeps.
Chris: This is a tough series to pick. It’s cliche’ to say that both teams are better than their records, but I think either is capable of taking four points this weekend. I think it will be a split, with Niagara winning on Friday and SHU coming back on Saturday.

Canisius at Maine
Dan: Maine has been less than expected this year, going 4-13-1 and winning only once since the calendar turned to November. A big part of their problem is goaltending, which isn’t good news since Canisius averaged three goals per game over their last four games before the break. Over that time, the Griffs went 2-1-1. I think they go up to Orono and take this weekend.Canisius sweeps.
Chris: I think these games are more important to Maine, who is struggling and will be under a lot of pressure to win at home before returning to conference play. Maine sweeps.

Ohio State at Mercyhurst
Dan: Mercyhurst went into the break on absolute fire, going 6-2-2 after November 1st. Along the way, they beat Colgate and Robert Morris while tying Bentley and Canisius. But it’s hard to judge how they’ll do against Ohio State, a team hovering around .500 but with a decidedly tougher schedule. Both of these games will be played at the Erie Insurance Arena to benefit The Warming Center for the Mental Health Center of Northwest Pennsylvania. Mercyhurst wins on Friday. Buckeyes win on Saturday.
Chris: Hopefully this series will draw well and games at the downtown rink will become an annual event. I too like a split with Mercyhurst winning on Friday and Ohio State on Saturday.

Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Rochester Institute of Technology
Dan: UMass-Lowell enters the Mariucci Classic up in Minnesota at 12-3-3 overall, fourth in the nation in scoring offense. They were ninth in the nation in the last poll. Even if RIT’s defense can hold the River Hawks at bay, I don’t think their 32nd ranked offense can keep pace. UML wins.
Chris: The Tigers return to the scene of one of their program-defining wins, defeating the Gophers in the first round of this tournament in 2007, just RIT’s third year at the D-I level. I don’t think they will fare as well this time around. Lowell wins.

Saturday, January 3

Rochester Institute of Technology vs. Merrimack/Minnesota
Dan: Pick your poison for the Tigers here – either they get the nation’s sixth best offense in Minnesota or they draw the ninth best defense in Merrimack. If it’s Merrimack, look out for the Ruby-Tirronen goalie matchup; it’ll be a great watch. That said, this is a much tougher tournament now than it looked back in September. RIT loses regardless of opponent.
Chris: RIT is the only non-ranked team in the field and I’m going with the odds here. RIT loses to either Minnesota or Merrimack.

Saturday January 3 and Sunday, January 4
Robert Morris vs. Bowling Green
Dan: If you’re not a fan of the outdoor game, look away. I’m pretty excited to see what happens outside in Toledo on Saturday, especially since RMU has an outside chance still at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. They absolutely can’t lose another non-conference game, though. I predicted the computers wouldn’t fall in their favor, though, which means a loss here contributes to the debate. Bowling Green wins on Saturday. RMU wins on Sunday.
Chris: Saturday’s game will be outdoors at Fifth Third Field in downtown Toledo. Sunday the action will shift to RMU’s 84 lumber Arena. I’m going with a split with the home team coming out on top. Bowling Green wins Saturday, Robert Morris on Sunday.