ECAC Hockey picks – Dec. 29-Jan. 3

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays so far and there’s no better way to ring in the new year with college hockey action. There’s tournament games and some intriguing nonconference games.

Last time: 1-1

Overall: 35-23-3

Friday, Dec. 29

Tournament Games

Ledyard Bank Classic

At Dartmouth College

Yale vs. Minnesota Duluth, 4 p.m.

This is an intriguing game between the battle of the Bulldogs. On paper, the advantage is with Minnesota Duluth, but the team on paper won’t be the team taking the ice in Hanover as five players will be on ice at New Era Field in Buffalo representing Team USA at the World Junior Championship. I think Yale takes advantage as UMD plays with a different lineup than they are used to. Yale takes it 3-1.

New Hampshire at Dartmouth, 7 p.m.

The first day of the Ledyard Classic is capped off with the Granite State rivalry. Both teams are excited to get the second half of the season underway. Dartmouth looks to build off that victory over Denver to end the first half. While New Hampshire ended the first half of the season on a sour note with losses against Army and Merrimack. This game is close, but the Wildcats come away with a 4-3 win.

Catamount Cup

At University of Vermont

St. Lawrence vs. UMass Lowell, 4 p.m.

The Saints looks to start the “new year” off a better start than how the end of 2017 ended. Hopefully the break allowed the players to hit the refresh button with the amount of turmoil that hit program off the ice. They will face a hungry RiverHawks squad that has had an up-and-down first half the season. UMass Lowell rolls on to win 5-2.

Harvard at Vermont, 7:05 p.m.

The Crimson looks to build off that final weekend of the first half with wins over Quinnipiac and Princeton. They will be without their No. 1 defenseman Adam Fox who’s with Team USA at the World Juniors. While that’s a blow to the defensive core, they should have the depth to overcome it as Reilly Walsh has had a solid freshman campaign. It has been a struggle for Vermont this season as they are 4-10-3 this season. Harvard wins 5-3.

Non-Tournament Games

Maine at Rensselaer, 4 p.m.

The Engineers will be looking for some redemption as the two teams has already faced each other this season in the consolation game at the Friendship Four in Belfast Ireland. The Black Bears came away with a 4-2. One key for RPI this time around, they won’t have to face Jeremy Swayman as he’s representing the Americans at the WJC. Swayman made 18 saves in that game. The Black Bears have been streaky this season, so if the Engineers can jump on them early, they have a shot. I think Maine wins 3-2.

St. Cloud State at Princeton, 7 p.m.

The No. 1 team in the land visit the Tigers for a weekend series. Just like their fellow NCHC team, Minnesota-Duluth, the Huskies have been hit hard because of the WJCs. Head coach will be coaching the Americans and Ryan Poehling, a Montreal Canadiens first round pick has joined him. Backup goaltender Dávid Hrenák is suiting up for Slovakia. Still the Huskies will be formidable. St. Cloud wins 6-3.

Union at Omaha, 8:07 p.m.

This will be a battle of two teams that have success at the National level recruiting older players and going against bluebloods. The Dutchmen have a rough end to the first half of the season losing two of their past three games. UNO is coming off a split with Duluth. I think Union squeaks one out 3-2.

Saturday, Dec. 30

Tournament Games

Ledyard Bank Classic

At Dartmouth College

Yale vs. New Hampshire, 4 p.m.

This is another rematch from earlier this season as the Bulldogs dispatched the Wildcats 4-0 the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I think this game is closer this time around as I think Yale caught UNH on an off night. I think the Wildcats makes the two hour trip home with a pair of victories. UNH wins 3-2.

Minnesota Duluth at Dartmouth, 7 p.m.

Can the Big Green take down another NCHC opponent? I think they have more than a punchers chance against a depleted Bulldogs squad, but just like the game against Denver, Devin Buffalo will have to steal the game. At the end of the day, I think UMD grinds this out out. Bulldogs win 2-1.

Catamount Cup

At University of Vermont

Harvard vs. UMass Lowell, 4 p.m.

Before the season started this game looked liked one of the marquee games on the schedule as both teams were expected to be in the top ten at this point. At any rate no team has the clear advantage as both teams had their struggles. I think Harvard has more skill, Crimson wins 4-3.

St. Lawrence vs. Vermont, 7:05 p.m.

Someone has to win right? Both teams are at the bottom of the standings of their respective conferences. I think the Saints continue to struggle to score goals. The Catamounts salvage a victory in their own tournament. Vermont wins 5-1.

Non-Tournament games

Maine at RPI 4 p.m.

With the games being played in Troy, I expect the Engineers to get a victory this weekend. They have played teams like Ohio State and Notre Dame in the first half. Maine isn’t that caliber of teams, so RPI should be battle tested. The Engineers win 5-4.

St. Cloud State at Princeton, 7 p.m.

Without their head coach and Montreal’s first round pick, the Huskies are looking for a sweep at Hobey Baker. I think this game will be a track meet as I think Princeton’s top line can compete with St. Cloud State’s. At the end of the day, the Huskies depth prevails. St. Cloud wins 6-4.

Canisius at Cornell, 7:05 p.m.

A battle of two top 20 teams at the Golden Griffins just sneak in at 20. The Big Red knows how tough Atlantic Hockey teams are as they had to battle Niagara earlier this season. Cornell won’t be overlooking Canisius, the Big Red comes on top 4-1.

Union at Omaha, 8:07 p.m.

The Mavericks look to turn their luck around as they are 5-7 in their past 12 games. I expect another close game between these two middle of the pack teams in their respective conferences. Union wins 4-3.

Tuesday, Jan. 2

Canisius at Clarkson, 7 p.m.

The hottest team in the first half of the season in the ECAC, the Clarkson Golden Knights get 2018 started with a tough midweek test against Canisius. Should be interested to see how the Golden Knights come out after the break. The Golden Griffins have advantage of having a game under their belt to start 2018. I think Clarkson keeps it going. Golden Knights win 3-2.

Quinnipiac at Connecticut, 7 p.m.

Another game where both teams are trying to find their footing this season. A win over an instate rival could propel both teams for the second half. This should be an evenly matched contest, but will take the Bobcats. Quinnipiac wins 3-0.

Wednesday, Jan. 3

Brown at Providence, 7 p.m.

Another rivalry contest on the schedule as Brown and Providence battle for the Mayor’s Cup. Not only Brown is at a disadvantage in terms of depth, but the Friars will be coming off two games this weekend at the Three Rivers Classic as the Bears are playing their first game of the second half. Providence has been streaky this year. This will be a close one, but the Friars win 3-1.