Atlantic Hockey Picks, February 23-26

Last week:

Dan: 7-3-0
Chris: 10-0-0
Wow. Chris with the rare perfect week.

On the season:

Dan: 116-68-29 (.613)
Chris: 126-58-29 (.660)

This Week’s Picks:

Thursday, February 23
Mercyhurst at Canisius
Dan: A Canisius win  makes it tougher on Air Force to win the outright AHC championship. A Laker win makes it substantially tougher on both Holy Cross and Bentley. Two huge points on the line in a classic league rivalry. I’m taking the Griffs for the two points, though I don’t necessarily think it clinches them the league regular season title. Canisius wins.
Chris: Canisius is putting a lot on the line here: a 14 game unbeaten streak and the chance at the school’s first ever regular season title. That should be enough to propel the Golden Griffins to victory.

Thursday, February 23 and Saturday, February 25
Army West Point vs. American International
Dan: There are some downstream impacts that may come back to haunt both of these teams in the postseason. Should the Black Knights finish fourth, they could be hosting a team like Mercyhurst or Holy Cross – or even a Bentley team that took three points from them and executed a major comeback in a 5-5 tie. Points for AIC could send the Yellow Jackets out to Rochester or send them more local win or lose. I love this time of year. I think AIC closes out their home schedule with a little bit of a shocker, but Army handles business on Saturday. AIC wins on Thursday, Army West Point wins on Saturday.
Chris: AIC hosts on Thursday, Army West Point on Saturday. This series will have little impact on the standings, as the Black Knights are looking at between third and fourth place and the Yellow Jackets will finish ninth or 10th. I’m going with an Army sweep.

Friday, February 24 and Saturday, February 25
Sacred Heart at Air Force
Dan: Sacred Heart fought for points last week against Bentley, which put a damper on AIC’s ability to jump in front for ninth place. Air Force, meanwhile, is playing for a lot more than just the regular season title. If the Falcons do well enough, they could cement some status for an at-large bid. That’s something I thought was impossible earlier this year. Air Force sweeps and wins the regular season title.
Chris: Air Force needs four points (or maybe less depending on what happens between Canisius and Mercyhurst on Thursday) to win the regular season title. I think that and home ice will result in a Falcons sweep.

Holy Cross at Bentley
Dan: I’m going up on my soapbox to say that it’s a crime that a) they only play twice this year and b) waited this long to get on the ice against one another. If last week’s split with Sacred Heart was any indication, Bentley is putting on the foil to make things interesting on the teams in front of them. This will be the strongest goaltender matchup of the late season when Aidan Pelino, who is getting pistol hot, takes on Paul Berrafato and his defensive system of wizardry. Holy Cross wins on Friday. Bentley wins on Saturday.
Chris: These teams need to play each other four times every season. This is the only meeting between the schools this season, so we’ve saved the best for last, with lots on the line. My gut says the JAR is the difference, so I’m picking Bentley to sweep.

Saturday, February 25
Rochester Institute of Technology at Mercyhurst
Dan: Because Bentley splits with Holy Cross, RIT winds up hosting in eighth place regardless of outcome. Mercyhurst wins this one.
Chris: Mercyhurst may still be in the running for a bye depending on its Thursday game with Canisius, while the Tigers look to lock down at least eighth place and home ice in the first round. The Tigers usually play well in Erie, so I’m going with RIT to win.

Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26
Niagara at Robert Morris
Dan: The playoff seedings have to wait until the end of Sunday because of an outdoor game at Heinz Field. I’m not hopeful for the ice conditions on Sunday; Wednesday and Thursday are both slated for temperatures in the high 60s and Friday is set for 76 degrees before it drops down to 60 and rain on Saturday. Even with the NHL crew taking care of the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins, that’s tough. I’m tempted to take an upset because I’m far enough back from Chris, but I still think RMU plays their way into locking up that home ice bye. Robert Morris sweeps.
Chris: The final standings and playoff matchups will have to wait one more day than originally planned as RMU and Niagara have moved their Friday game to Sunday night at Heinz Field. Saturday’s game remains unchanged. I’m not completely counting out the Purple Eagles but RMU has more to play for here as it looks to lock up a bye and home ice for the quarterfinal round. Robert Morris sweeps.


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