On the season:
Dan: 63-44-17 (.577)
Chris: 68-39-17 (.617)
This Week’s Picks:
Thursday, December 29 and Friday, December 30
Ferris State then Boston College/Quinnipiac vs. Robert Morris
Dan: Boston College refers to this time of year as “trophy season,” which is typically known as the act of piling up hardware from winning tournaments. While the Beanpot, Hockey East, Regionals, and Frozen Fours come later, it can start in Pittsburgh. RMU is a valiant host, but I don’t see them pulling off the upset. RMU beats Ferris but loses to BC/Quinnipiac.
Chris: This is the strongest field of the six holiday tournaments taking place this week. That’s a credit to RMU, the defending champs. But I think No. 6 Boston College will come out on top this year. So I have the Colonials beating Ferris State and then losing to BC or Quinnipiac.
Friday, December 30
Rochester Institute of Technology at Bowling Green
Dan: Some hard-hitting analysis for everyone: all streaks and records were made to be broken. RIT wins.
Chris: The Tigers have never beaten the Falcons (0-4-1). It’s a homecoming for head coach Wayne Wilson, who captained BGSU’s 1984 national championship team, and associate coach Brian Hills, who is Bowling Green’s second all-time leading scorer. Nostalgia aside, I’m going with a Bowling Green win.
Friday, December 30 and Saturday, December 31
Canisius at Holy Cross
Dan: This is a long road trip for the Griffs, coupled with semester break and New Year’s Eve. I never liked having teams travel on holidays, so I think the Crusaders will pull out at least one win. Since I can’t pick ties, I’ll take the sweep. Holy Cross sweeps.
Chris: Canisius has been off since Dec. 3 while Holy Cross is coming off an exhibition win on Tuesday. That and home ice should be good for at least three points to the Crusaders, so I’ll go with a Holy Cross sweep.
Air Force at Sacred Heart
Dan: What I just said above is going to mean virtually nothing in this series. Statistics and history show Air Force to be a much different team at sea level, and I’ve maintained that Sacred Heart is substantially better than 10th place. The Falcons took three points last year but were swept two years ago. I like Air Force a lot, but I don’t like them to sweep. Air Force wins on Friday. Sacred Heart wins on Saturday.
Chris: The Falcons are 22-8-5 all-time against the Pioneers, but just 6-6-2 in games played away from Colorado Springs. I’m thinking split here, with SHU winning Friday and Air Force on Saturday.
Bentley at Vermont
Dan: After a seven-game unbeaten streak in which they amassed six wins, Vermont limped into semester break with three straight losses, all at home, including a pair to Union. Bentley, meanwhile, started revving the engine with a split against Robert Morris. I think the Falcons win one of these games, but since I can’t figure out which one, I’ll take the home team for the zero confidence sweep. Vermont sweeps.
Chris: Vermont used to host the Catamount Cup tournament at this time of year, but that tradition ended in 2014. Instead, the 13th ranked Catamounts will host Bentley for a pair. These will be the fourth and fifth games against ranked opponents for the Falcons, who are 0-2-1 so far in those games. I don’t think that will improve here. I like Bentley to put up a fight, but Vermont will sweep.
Mercyhurst at Minnesota then vs. Alabama Huntsville/Massachusetts
Dan: Minnesota hasn’t won their hosted tournament in three years, so I’m willing to bet they scheduled these three teams to do just that. What will be more compelling is who draws the “other” game since all three of these teams could use a good win. I usually root for chaos, so imagine what would happen if Mercyhurst beats the Gophers. Mercyhurst loses to Minnesota, then beats UMass or Huntsville regardless of opponent.
Chris: Minnesota expects to walk away with their tournament trophy, as the No. 11 Gophers host a trio of teams with a combined record of 18-32-5. If Minnesota does stumble, I think it will be against Mercyhurst in the first round. That said, I think the Lakers will ultimately some out on the short end against the host team, but I like them to beat Massachusetts or UAH on Saturday. So I’m taking Mercyhurst to lose to Minnesota, and then beat either UMass or Huntsville.
Army West Point at Dartmouth then vs. Mass-Lowell/Colgate
Dan: The Ledyard Bank Classic is a personal favorite, having attended the tournament a couple of years ago. Of all the Atlantic Hockey teams, I really like them to come home with a pair of victories, which would set them up nicely for a trip to Boston next week. One stat to watch is special teams – Army has the fourth best penalty kill in the nation, and it squares off with a Dartmouth team that has just three power play goals and a D1-worst 5% success rate. Army beats Dartmouth, then beats Colgate or loses to UMass-Lowell.
Chris: Like Mercyhurst, Army West point will take on the tournament hosts, as they square off against the Big Green in the Ledyard Bank Classic. Army is having a terrific season so far, but the main blemish has been a 0-2-1 record against nonconference opponents. including a 2-2 tie with Colgate at the beginning of the season. But I think the Black Knights will do well in this tournament, possibly winning it if they can avoid No. 7 Lowell. My picks are Army West Point over Dartmouth, and then either beating Colgate or losing to Mass-Lowell.
Tuesday, January 2
American International at Massachusetts
Dan: I feel like I went all-in on AIC and the hockey gods immediately made them pay for it. The Yellow Jackets haven’t won in a long time, but this is a case where the team they’re playing is on an arguably bigger slide. UMass also has to fly back from Minnesota, head back to Amherst, and immediately play a hockey game the day after New Year’s. Factor in the lack of students, which may make the Mullins Center feel cavernous, and it has all the trappings for an AIC victory. I’m taking the well-rested Jackets because I still believe. AIC wins.
Chris: This is a big game for the Yellow Jackets against their crosstown rivals. AIC limps into the contest with just one victory in their past 12 games (1-6-5). But UMass is also struggling, with just one win in its last 10 (1-8-1). Factoring in a quick turnaround needed by the Minutemen after a weekend in Minnesota, I’m picking AIC to win.