Atlantic Hockey Picks, March 13-15

Last week:

Dan: 5-3
Chris: 5-2

On the season:

Dan: 126-76-27 (.609)
Chris: 130-71-27 (.629)


This Week’s Picks

Atlantic Hockey Playoffs – Quarterfinals
Best of Three Series
Friday, March 13 – Sunday, March 15

No. 11 Niagara at No. 1 Robert Morris
Dan: Niagara might be the most dangerous seed to the Colonials’ run. The coaches know each other like a book, and it just feels like one of those series where the higher seed should be on upset alert. I think Niagara’s going to be incredibly tough to play against, especially if Jackson Teichroeb does what he did last weekend. Like I said during last week’s picks, if he heats up, watch out. But I really think RMU is coming in well aware of the thought that anyone can beat anyone, and they’ll be ready for it. RMU sweeps.
Chris:The Niagara team we thought we’d see all season waited until the middle of February to show up. Before that it was injuries, a lack of confidence, and more injuries. The “clean slate, second season” mentality is clearly there, demonstrated by the Purple Eagles not packing it in after losing that marathon game at Holy Cross last Saturday. That said, RMU is best team in the league and I think they will get things into gear after coasting a little the past couple of weekends. Even if these seedings were No. 1 vs. No. 2 instead of No. 1 vs. No. 11, I still would bank on the Colonials. Robert Morris sweeps.

No. 8 Sacred Heart at No. 2 Canisius
Dan: Canisius was elite in the second half of the year, finishing the year on a 10-3-2 clip. They have good goal scoring and a solid defense. They’re deep. But Sacred Heart is playing with house money, and they are starting to play a style resembling the way Canisius played in the last two postseasons. I’m known for making some bold statements, so hear me out on this one – I’ve seen SHU a couple of times, and I’m a believer. By the time this weekend is over, you’ll believe too. Sacred Heart in three.
Chris: The teams have had similar offensive success (both around 2.6 goals scored per game), but Canisius has the top defense in the conference, better by more than a half a goal a game compared to SHU. Sacred Heart’s more open offensive style will have to find a way to generate chances against the Golden Griffs, who like to trap. The trap (pun intended) that Canisius will need to avoid is the comfort of playing at home. The last two quarterfinal series wins for the Griffs came on the road, at Air Force in 2013 and at Bentley last season. Can they find that magic in the new HarborCenter? I think they can. Canisius sweeps.

No. 7 Air Force at No. 3 Rochester Institute of Technology
Dan: RIT’s top line might be the best in the league, but is it enough to a) score the Tigers’ first playoff goal against Air Force before it b) leads the team back to the promised land? This is an interesting series because of what both teams mean to the playoffs, but I’ll throw this out there – Air Force went 4-11-3 on the season away from Cadet Ice Arena. RIT in three.
Chris:Despite RIT coach Wayne Wilson continuing to remind me that past results don’t matter in predicting the future, I’m a believer in history. The Tigers have never beaten Air Force in the postseason. The Tigers have never scored a goal against Air Force in the postseason. RIT is 0-3 against the Falcons in their most important meetings: 5-0 loss in the 2008 semis and 1-0 and 4-0 losses in the 2011 and 2012 championship games, respectively. Only the seniors on each squad were a part of that 2012 contest, which is also the last time either team won a quarterfinal series. This is a time to either exorcise the past or add another brick to the wall. I’m going with the latter. Air Force in three.

No. 5 Mercyhurst at No. 4 Bentley
Dan: I had this series as a semifinal single game series; that it happens here is going to be interesting. Bentley went undefeated during the regular season, but every game was tight. Mercyhurst received a bye for extra rest, but they’re traveling. Both teams struggled down the stretch, but Bentley is likely to get some healthy bodies back after the week off. Underlying storyline – the series is during Bentley’s spring break, meaning the attendance could be a little weird for the first couple of games. Since this series is a total toss up, I’ll say this – Mercyhurst was my pick to win the league before the year, and I said they’d beat Bentley in the playoffs to do it. I can’t really back out, no matter what my heart wants to pick. Mercyhurst in three.
Chris: Neither team was playing very well over the final two weekends of the regular season, so this will come down to which one made the best use of the bye week to get back on track. Mercyhurst has made it through to Rochester each of the past three seasons, while the Falcons have come up short. As I said, I’m a believer in history, so I’m picking Mercyhurst in three, with at least two going to overtime (that’s for you, Dan).



Saturday, March 14, 2015:
NCAA Women’s First Round
No. 8 RIT at No. 1 Minnesota

Dan: Ali Binnington spearheaded a goaltending trio for RIT that allowed just about two goals per game. The top-ranked Gophers outscored opponents 171-44 on the season. But the win by Bemidji proved someone could beat this team. So I’ll throw down on this one – if RIT beats Minnesota, I will don Tiger colors and post a short video doing some Corner Crew chants on Twitter. But since RIT is in position to pull off the first ever “double” between the CHA and AHC (win both the men’s and women’s title), I’ll do the same if the men win a league championship. Sorry, guys, but this is strictly business. Minnesota wins.
It’s hard to pick against a team that is absolute money in the postseason (the RIT seniors are 15-1 in the playoffs including 10-1 at the D-I level). But it is Minnesota after all. That said, all the ladies have to do is look at the trophy case in the Polisseni Center lobby to see the Frozen Four trophy the men took home after knocking out two highly ranked teams in Albany in 2010. It can happen. I’m not sure what I will do if the Tigers win this one other than buy a t-shirt, but why the heck not? RIT shocks the women’s college hockey world. And no, this pick doesn’t count against our overall record, where my 10 game lead has been whittled down to 4.5 games.