Picking the men’s Division I games: Oct. 25-28

Giesler, Evan (15 - Air Force) (2018 Omar Phillips)
Evan Giesler has posted three points in four games this season for Air Force (photo: Omar Phillips).

Each week, USCHO.com columnists will pick the winners of the upcoming games in their respective conferences.

Atlantic Hockey


Niagara at Air Force: The teams split their four games last year, with the road team each earning a sweep. The difference is that the Purple Eagles were smoking hot in the first half of 2017-2018, and they enter this weekend on the heels of a tough weekend against Penn State. While Air Force isn’t flying high (pardon the pun) with a 1-3 start, last weekend’s split at Canisius will help springboard a home series back in the altitude. Air Force sweeps.


Holy Cross at Bentley: There is never love lost between these two teams. Last year saw the teams post 20 penalties with a 10-penalty third period that included three misconducts in a single game. 19 games have been decided by two goals or less since the turn of the decade, with 10 overtime games. But Holy Cross hasn’t lost to Bentley since 2015. So it’s hard to pick against history if that’s what we’re comparing. Holy Cross wins.


UMass-Lowell at Bentley: There’s something about this game that I just can’t put my finger on. Bentley would enter Saturday with an 0-3-1 record if I’m right about Friday, but I can’t believe the Falcons are playing like a winless team. They could easily be a 3-0 team, which makes them dangerous for the River Hawks, who surrendered two third period goals in a 2-1 loss to Miami last week. I’ve made a habit through the years of picking crazy outcomes and succeeding. Bentley wins.

Friday and Saturday

Quinnipiac vs. AIC: The series begins in Massachusetts on Friday before shifting to the Constitution State on Saturday in a home-and-home series. The undefeated Bobcats broke into the national poll this week at No. 20 after beating Boston College, 1-0, but you could make a case that the Yellow Jackets are ready and primed for this weekend. I have been beating the AIC drum for two years and refuse to stop now. Get ready to see them receiving votes next week. AIC and Quinnipiac split with the home team winning.

Army West Point at Mercyhurst: The Black Knights reracked the train last week (not sure if that’s a real term or not, but it is now!) with three points against Robert Morris. I like them to keep rolling this weekend against the Lakers before Air Force heads to West Point next weekend. Army West Point sweeps.

RIT at Robert Morris: RIT is 2-1 with wins against UMass-Lowell and Colgate, performances that earned the Tigers nine points in the national poll. But I still feel like they’re underrated and under the radar. Maybe that changes this week. RIT sweeps.

— Dan Rubin

Big Ten


Bowling Green vs. Ohio State

This home-and-home series has the Buckeyes hosting Friday and the Falcons hosting Saturday. The last time these teams met (2016), Ohio State swept. This time, I’m calling for each to win at home. Buckeyes Friday, Falcons Saturday.

St. Lawrence at Michigan

The Wolverines are starting slower than they’d like and the Saints have yet to win on the road. Let’s see how well Michigan has learned from its first two weekends of play. Michigan sweep.

Michigan State at Cornell

The Spartans split with Northern Michigan at home two weeks ago and are well rested for this trip, while Cornell has played exhibition games on consecutive weekends and outscored opponents 13-1. Big Red home sweep.

Michigan Tech at Wisconsin

The Huskies dropped two at home to Minnesota-Duluth two weeks ago and played better the first night. The Badgers split a pair of road games in upstate New York last weekend, winning the second night. That’s my rationale for this split. Michigan Tech Friday, Wisconsin Saturday.

Minnesota-Duluth at Notre Dame

Last weekend, the Bulldogs swept Maine and outscored the Black Bears 11-4. On the road last weekend, the Fighting Irish swept Omaha and outscored the Mavericks 12-3. I’m calling for much lower-scoring games and for a split, with the Irish taking Friday’s rematch of the 2018 NCAA championship game. Notre Dame Friday, Minnesota-Duluth Saturday.


Princeton at Penn State

It’s Princeton’s first game of the season. The Nittany Lions outscored Niagara 12-3 in their sweep last weekend. Penn State wins.


Minnesota vs. North Dakota, Hall of Fame Game (at Las Vegas)

The Gophers opened their season with a tie with and win over the defending national champions. I’ll take them over the Fighting Hawks, too. Minnesota wins.

— Paula C. Weston

ECAC Hockey


Union vs. RPI

The two rivals open conference play with a home-and-home series. The Dutchmen have been solid while RPI has been competitive in their two games. I believe Union will sweep the weekend.

Michigan State vs. Cornell

This should be a solid series for Cornell to open the regular season. With the majority of the roster back, I believe Cornell sweeps.

St. Lawrence vs. Michigan

Another stiff test for the Saints. Michigan is skilled and has more depth than the Saints. There’s still a puncher’s chance to win a game as Michigan was upset by Vermont earlier this season. Still, I think Michigan sweeps.

AIC vs. Quinnipiac

Another home-and-home series and I think it’s a series where Quinnipiac can build off its strong start, but AIC’s offense has been strong so far this season. I believe the Bobcats sweep.

Colgate vs. Miami

The Raiders visit Oxford to face a strong RedHawks team. Colgate will have to score two or more goals to have a chance. Miami sweeps.


Yale vs. Brown

Both teams want to get off to a good start. I expect this one to be close, but Yale wins.

Princeton vs. Penn State

I expect this to be a 6-5 or a 5-4 game as both teams have strong offenses. Penn State wins as the Nittany Lions have regular-season games under their belt.


Harvard vs. Dartmouth

The travel partners open the season. This may be a closer game than people are expecting. Harvard may have individual star power, but Dartmouth is a solid team. Dartmouth wins.

Canisius vs. Clarkson.

After a solid weekend for the Golden Knights, I expect it to continue against the Golden Griffins. They have most of their roster playing good hockey. Clarkson wins


Vermont vs. Brown

Brown will have a day of rest whereas Vermont will be coming off playing a game Saturday night. It should be another close one for Brown. I think the Bears win in a low-scoring affair.

— Nathan Fournier

Hockey East


St. Cloud State at Boston College: BC’s offensive struggles continue while St. Cloud remains perfect. St. Cloud wins.


Northeastern at UMass Lowell: Both teams are 2-2, but I like the way Northeastern played against Union last week, despite the two losses. Northeastern wins.

Providence at Boston University: By the end of the season, only a couple points should separate these teams in the standings. But right now, the Friars are playing better. Providence wins.


Merrimack vs. Massachusetts: Merrimack has already knocked off Boston University, but I’m a UMass believer. UMass sweeps the home-and-home series.

Maine at UConn: Home ice is the difference in this close match-up. UConn sweeps both home games.


Vermont at New Hampshire: Goaltender Stefanos Lekkas is the difference. Vermont wins.

St. Cloud State at Northeastern: St. Cloud goes to 6-0-0 in this battle of Huskies. St. Cloud wins.

UMass Lowell at Bentley: The River Hawks bounce back from their loss to Northeastern, getting back to .500. Lowell wins.


Vermont at Brown: Vermont traveled awfully well to Michigan to open the season, so I’ll give them this easier road trip. Vermont wins.

— David H. Hendrickson



No. 2 St. Cloud State at Boston College: Boston College has struggled out of the gate, and St. Cloud State is a better team than Wisconsin and Quinnipiac. Give me the Huskies. St. Cloud State 4-2


Omaha at Arizona State: The following paragraph from last Sunday’s Omaha World-Herald last after an 8-2 home loss to Notre Dame feels ominous: “(Mason) Morelli, UNO’s captain, suggested that the team’s first step toward improvement is learning how to want to win. And then, on the ice, he feels the Mavs need to step up when game situations get tougher.” The Mavericks are 0-3-1 to start the season, and they may have issues against a Sun Devil team that has won four of its first six games, only losing to then-No. 1 Ohio State. A split wouldn’t be unwelcome. Omaha 4-2, Arizona State 4-2

Colgate at Miami: Miami is at home, and the RedHawks have given up a total of two goals in their four wins so far this season. Colgate has only played three games so far next to Miami’s six, so there’s a smaller sample size to work with, but the Raiders will be keen to get over a 6-1 loss to RIT last time out. Miami will have other ideas, but I’m not sure there’s a sweep either way. Miami 4-2, Colgate 3-2

No. 3 Minnesota Duluth at No. 1 Notre Dame: We’ve already had three different No. 1 teams at the top of our Division I men’s poll, and UMD will look to at least jump ahead a spot if not two to where the Bulldogs were at the start of the season. Notre Dame has started well, though, with no issues finding the back of the net. That could happen again here, but I’ll take the safe option and go with a split. Notre Dame 5-3, Minnesota Duluth 3-1


No. 2 St. Cloud State at No. 18 Northeastern: I like Northeastern to give SCSU a tougher test than Boston College, but I think St. Cloud pulls this one out, too. St. Cloud State 3-1

No. 5 Minnesota vs No. 17 North Dakota (at Las Vegas): North Dakota hasn’t exactly been overwhelming so far this season, but UND is coming off a win against a good Minnesota State team and the Fighting Hawks will certainly hope that serves as a springboard. Meetings between UND and Minnesota are always tough to predict, and there’s a wrinkle now with this one being a destination game. I’ve got Minnesota in a close one. Minnesota 4-3

— Matthew Semisch


Bemidji State at Northern Michigan: Conference play starts very early in the WCHA thanks in part to the unbalanced schedule. This series should be an interesting one. The Beavers are riding high after a win and a tie against North Dakota, but they’ve had a week off. Northern Michigan, meanwhile, struggled more than expected in their series at St. Cloud State, getting swept while managing just one goal. This series feels ripe for a split with the Wildcats getting back on track with a win Friday. The Beavers rally Saturday for a nice road split.

Alaska Anchorage at Ferris State: Anchorage is back in action after two long weeks off. I think they might be a little rusty, which is going to play into Ferris State’s advantage at home. I think the Bulldogs will win the opener but the Seawolves get one back for a split in the finale.

Alaska at Minnesota State: Alaska is one of three winless WCHA teams. I don’t think they’re going to find their first victory in Mankato. The Mavericks are looking very much like the league leaders right now. I think they sweep the Nanooks at home.

Lake Superior State at Alabama Huntsville: LSSU had a great opening weekend with a sweep at Merrimack and kept that momentum going with a solid exhibition weekend. The Chargers are another team still looking to get in the win column, but I think the Lakers are going to be too much for them here. Lakers sweep the Chargers.

Bowling Green at/vs. Ohio State: Easily one of the highlight nonconference matchups around the country this week, the Falcons have been scoring seemingly at will during their first five games (26, to be exact). Ohio State was ranked No. 1 last week before splitting with UMass in their home opener. The Buckeyes are still great after last year’s Frozen Four run, while the Falcons have been a ton of fun to watch, so I think this should be a great series. I think OSU wins Friday in Columbus and BG wins Saturday in Bowling Green.

Michigan Tech at Wisconsin: Tech had a week off after getting swept by defending national champions Minnesota Duluth at home, but now they hit the toad to face Wisconsin. The Badgers are 3-1 after splitting a trip to upstate New York last week. It’s still early so these series are still hard to predict, but I think the trend of the WCHA struggling in nonconference play is going to continue. Wisconsin sweeps.

— Jack Hittinger