Atlantic Hockey Picks, January 2-5

Last week:

Dan: 1-1
Chris: 0-2

On the season:

Dan: 69-41-9 (.618)
Chris: 77-33-9 (.685)


This Week’s Picks:

Saturday, January 2 and Sunday, January 3
Robert Morris at Dartmouth
Robert Morris vs. Union/Merrimack
Dan: This is one of those weekends where RMU can’t necessarily gain space in the Pairwise, but they can definitely lose it if they’re not careful. I think they know what’s at stake, and that means they’re going into this weekend with a ball of fire. I recommend tuning into this weekend of games; I had the privilege of going to the Ledyard Bank Classic last year, and I regretted not bringing skis. It’s a great place to watch a game, as well. RMU beats Dartmouth, then beats either Union or Merrimack.
Chris: On paper, this tournament (Ledyard Bank Classic, hosted by Dartmouth) doesn’t have as strong a field as the Three Rivers Classic, which the Colonials won last weekend, defeating Penn State and Mass-Lowell. But just like last weekend, these are huge conference games for the Colonials, who jumped from 29th in the PairWise Rankings to 19th. I’m going to correct my past mistakes of picking against RMU, and going for a pair of wins, first against Dartmouth and then against either Union or Merrimack.

Bentley at Air Force
Dan: This is Bentley’s first trip to Air Force since November 29th and 30th, 2013. Believe it or not, though, you have to go back even further to find the last time Air Force defeated the Falcons – Pearl Harbor Day back in 2012. And if that doesn’t make your jaw hit the floor, consider this: Air Force hasn’t beaten Bentley at home since November 7, 2009. That’s not to say Air Force hasn’t beaten Bentley (they have, three times, in Watertown), but it creates more drama when you consider the cadets haven’t beaten a conference team at home for 2,247 days. I can’t pick a tie, so I’m going with history here. There’s something in that Colorado Springs water for Bentley, and the eastern Falcons will come home with more points. Bentley sweeps.
Chris: Can either set of Falcons come away with four points? I think Bentley has the best chance of doing so, but I also think Air Force will get a win on home ice. Air Force wins Saturday, Bentley on Sunday.

Canisius at American International
Dan: In my predictions for the second half, I talked about how one team is going to break open the second half of the season and make a hot run into the playoffs. These are two prime candidates. AIC wins on Saturday, Canisius wins on Sunday.
Chris: The Golden Griffins are coming off a nice home win over Robert Morris before Christmas, and the Yellow Jackets did one better, sweeping Army at home in their final games of 2015. I’m going with a a split here. AIC wins Saturday, Canisius on Sunday.

Niagara at Sacred Heart
Dan: For a team with a 3-11-2 record, Niagara has been fairly good at earning points in close hockey games; they’re 3-5 in one or two goal games, and they’re 3-2-1 when they’re leading or tied after two. That’s puts an emphasis on getting a hot start for Sacred Heart, a team that’s -16 in the second and third periods and is 0-5-1 when trailing after two. I think the break will do the Pioneers good, which is why I’m picking them to sweep at home. Pencil this one as your proverbial series of the weekend, though. Sacred Heart sweeps.
Chris: Niagara showed signs of life before the holiday break, splitting with Bentley and RIT. Sacred Heart is slumping, going 0-7-1 in its last eight games before the Holidays and hasn’t played since Dec. 5. But Niagara is winless on the road so far this season (and beginning a stretch where it will play seven of its next eight away from Dwyer Arena) and I think SHU will come out refocused and get at least three points. I’m going with a Sacred Heart sweep.

Mercyhurst vs. Rochester Institute of Technology
Dan: Seeing as I had no idea how to pick this series, I wanted to flip a coin. Since I have no change in my house (it must be all on the floor of my car), I went to the next best thing – my wife. She takes RIT this weekend, so all of the Laker fans can direct their anger at her for picking against them. RIT sweeps.
Chris: RIT hosts Saturday afternoon and then the action moves to Erie, Pa. on Sunday. Both teams have been tough to pin down this season, but I have more confidence in the Lakers right now, who lead the Tigers by a single point in the standings (Mercyhurst is tied for third; RIT tied for fifth). I’m going with a Mercyhurst sweep.

Saturday, January 2
Massachusetts at Army West Point
Dan: Absolutely nothing says Happy New Year like a home game on the Hudson River in West Point, New York. UMass hasn’t won since November 7th, and their 4-0-1 and 6-2-1 start seems like a lifetime ago. Their 0-7-3 run since beating Connecticut doesn’t end at Tate Rink. Army West Point wins.
Chris:Like Robert Morris, Army is coming off a win against a ranked team, knocking off No. 20 Merrimack last Tuesday. I’m picking the Black Knights to keep it going on home ice. Army West Point wins.

Princeton at Holy Cross
Dan: I had the chance to see Princeton play earlier this year when they were at Brown; they’re a team that’s incredibly streaky but still better than advertised. That said, when I saw them, they have a tendency defensively to rely solely on Colton Phinney. I think that’s a good challenge for Holy Cross, a team that hasn’t lost since November 13th. In a defensive battle, I like the Crusader team defense more than the Tigers standout goalie. Holy Cross wins.
Chris: Holy Cross has been the surprise of the season so far in the AHC, and the Crusaders have played a tough non-conference schedule so far. The home ice advantage puts them over the top against a struggling Princeton team. Holy Cross wins.

Tuesday, January 5
Holy Cross at American International
Dan: If AIC has a good weekend against Canisius, this game will become a fantastic case study among the eastern teams. Holy Cross wins.
Chris: While an AIC win wouldn’t be shocking, I’m looking for the Crusaders to pick up a pair of road points here. Holy Cross wins.