Each week, USCHO.com columnists will pick the winners of the upcoming games in their respective conferences.
RIT at American International
AIC’s win over Sacred Heart on Tuesday pushed the Yellow Jackets into first place for the first time this late in the season. Now they defend their place against RIT, a team riding a three-game unbeaten streak. The Tigers are 32-6-3 all-time against AIC, including the sweep at the Polisseni Center earlier this season. Everyone knows how much I believe in AIC, so I think they come away with points this weekend. I’m going with the Yellow Jackets to sweep the pair of early-afternoon games.
Bentley at Robert Morris
The Falcons’ season ended last year in Pittsburgh after pushing RMU to three hard-fought games. Bentley seems like a team poised to make some noise if everything can come together, and their tie against Dartmouth last week proves they can have mettle. The Colonials, meanwhile, need to right the ship after a pair of losses in the Three Rivers Classic. Can’t really blame them for losing to St. Cloud State, as hard as some might try. I think this is a split.
Niagara at Holy Cross
Yes, Holy Cross is in last place in Atlantic Hockey, and yes, Niagara is in third. But consider this: The Crusaders rallied from down 2-0 last week to take a 4-2 lead in about 20 minutes’ worth of work. Then they won the game in the third period after giving up a two-goal lead of their own. As for Niagara, finding points on the road would go a long way with only one full road series left on the schedule. I’m going with a split again.
Army West Point at Air Force
This series is the best thing about this conference. Records don’t matter, and statistics can be thrown out the window. It’s ironic that it will play out on the backdrop of a government shutdown this year. Air Force swept Army in West Point earlier this year, so I’m predicting more of the same. Expect hard-hitting, tight hockey in spades.
Mercyhurst vs. Canisius
Mercyhurst leads this series, 43-35-10, making it one of Atlantic Hockey’s oldest and most competitive rivalries. The Griffins have a slight edge in goaltending right now, which is what I think will press them forward. Call it a Canisius sweep, but the games will be tough hockey and will set the stage for the teams’ rematch later this year.
Sacred Heart at Yale
I’m taking a tie in this game because the result doesn’t matter given the cause the teams are playing for. Jason Pagni was one of those hockey guys who everyone in Connecticut seemed to know. He created the New England Prep School League and helped develop Nutmeg State kids into college student-athletes. He passed away in a one-car accident in 2014, creating a giant void that is memorialized on the ice when these two teams meet. So for me, the result doesn’t matter as much as the message, which carries on in the Connecticut Hockey Foundation.
— Dan Rubin
Michigan at Ohio State
The Wolverines followed up their 4-2 win over the Fighting Irish in Notre Dame Stadium last Saturday with a 4-2 loss to visiting Merrimack Tuesday night. The Buckeyes return home after a wild weekend in East Lansing, where they watched a three-goal lead evaporate in a 7-7 tie against the Spartans before beating Michigan State soundly, 6-0. Ohio State has a 4-0-3 undefeated streak on the line as Michigan comes to town. The Buckeyes have won their last five in a row against the Wolverines. I think that streak ends this weekend. Michigan wins Friday, Ohio State wins Saturday.
Minnesota at Notre Dame
Minnesota split at home against Penn State last weekend, losing 4-2 Friday followed by Saturday’s 4-1 win. The Irish have played two games in the second half, a 4-0 home win over Boston College New Year’s Eve and last Saturday’s loss to Michigan. The Irish were 3-1-0 against the Golden Gophers last season, including two wins at home. Notre Dame sweeps.
Michigan State at Penn State
The Spartans head to Hockey Valley looking for their first win of 2019, having gone 0-2-2 in the new year, most recently with that tie and loss in the home series against Ohio State. Michigan State gave up 13 goals in that series – but the Spartans scored seven, and that should be encouraging. The Nittany Lions begin a four-game home stretch with this series. Penn State went 2-1-1 against Michigan State last season, but the Nittany Lions are 9-3-0 at home this season while the Spartans are 3-6-1 on the road. Penn State sweeps – or at least gets a win and a tie.
— Paula C. Weston
Arizona State at Cornell
Cornell ends its regular-season nonconference slate with the darlings of college hockey in Arizona State this weekend. It will be two games with Pairwise implications with Arizona State 10th and Cornell 16th. I expect a split, with the Sun Devils winning Friday and Cornell on Saturday.
UMass Lowell at Colgate
Both teams are riding high heading into the weekend with Colgate defeating Quinnipiac and Princeton and UMass Lowell knocking off UMass last weekend. I think both teams can win one so I will take the Raiders Friday and the River Hawks Saturday.
Union at Clarkson
This is the game to watch between two ECAC teams this weekend. Both teams have beaten a top-five team since Christmas. I will go with Clarkson as the Golden Knights have won eight of their past 10 games.
Harvard at Princeton
These two teams put up eight goals in their first matchup of the season, and while that’s not out of the realm of possibilities again, I don’t think it will happen again. Harvard has been better defensively while Princeton is struggling to score beyond its top line. I expect Harvard to win.
Dartmouth at Quinnipiac
One of the Bobcats’ four losses this season was to the Big Green as Dartmouth won 5-1. So expect Dartmouth to play well again in Hamden, although I see Quinnipiac splitting the season series.
Rensselaer at St. Lawrence
In the battle of the bottom two teams in the ECAC standings, RPI had a decent weekend last weekend in defeating Army and lost in OT to Harvard. St. Lawrence, meanwhile, had a tough go of it at the Ice Vegas Invitational, losing both games to Air Force and UConn. RPI wins.
Rensselaer at Clarkson
RPI has only scored three or more goals four times this season. Scoring two or less versus the Golden Knights won’t cut it. Clarkson has had trouble with teams at the bottom of the standings this season, but I believe they won’t let that happen again. Clarkson wins.
Dartmouth at Princeton
Princeton had no trouble with Dartmouth in Hanover earlier this season. I don’t see another blowout at Hobey Baker. I think Princeton squeaks out a victory this time around.
Harvard at Quinnipiac
With skilled players on both teams, it should be a fast and exciting brand of hockey. You can’t go wrong picking either team in this one. I believe Quinnipiac is in the bump in the road in their schedule. Harvard wins.
Union at St. Lawrence
The Dutchmen have had some good games this season as well as some some head scratchers. The game against St. Lawrence will tell a lot about Union for the remainder of the season. I do think they defeat the Saints.
Sacred Heart at Yale
It’s been a tough go for Yale since Christmas and their problems have been defense with Phil Kemp and Jack St. Ivany at the World Juniors. They should be back in the lineup for Sacred Heart and should help solve those issues. Yale wins.
Tuesday, Jan. 15
Providence at Brown
It will be the second time these teams meet this season as they met at Dartmouth’s Ledyard Bank Classic a few weeks ago. The Friars came away with a 3-1 win, but Brown hung with them for most of the game. Brown pulls off the upset.
Wednesday, Jan. 16
Rensselaer at UConn
The Huskies are 4-2 this season against ECAC teams and that includes a 3-1 victory over RPI in Troy, N.Y. I believe they will make it 5-2 against the ECAC with a win over RPI.
— Nathan Fournier
Northeastern at Maine
I liked Maine’s win against Yale on Tuesday, but I think Northeastern is just a step ahead that, even on the road, they can win. Northeastern sweeps.
Vermont at Massachusetts
This one is difficult. I feel like I should give Vermont a win here as they are 4-1-0 in their last five. But I also think UMass is hungry after losing to Lowell. UMass sweeps.
UMass Lowell at Colgate
Consecutive wins have been difficult for this River Hawks team, but I feel like this is one weekend where road wins might be feasible. UMass Lowell sweeps.
Providence at Boston College
This one is simply playing the odds and going with the Friars. But this is Hockey East play and BC might suddenly play more like themselves. Providence wins.
New Hampshire at Boston University
Will BU make a turnaround this season? Might this be the start? Tough to say, but I’ll run with it. BU wins.
Connecticut at Merrimack
UConn has been decent of late, though Merrimack comes off the upset at Michigan. Tough call, but I still like the Huskies. UConn wins.
Boston University at Providence
Even if BU gets off on the right foot on Friday, Providence is head and shoulders better and should win at home on Saturday. Providence wins.
Boston College at New Hampshire
Why do I have a feeling UNH pulls of this win (upset? Probably not) at home. But I’m picking them. New Hampshire wins.
Tuesday, Jan. 15
Providence at Brown
The battle for the Mayor’s Cup is a big one for these two teams. I think Providence is strong enough to win this one. Providence wins.
Wednesday, Jan. 16
Maine at Boston College
On home Ice, I like the Eagles in this one. BC wins.
Rensselaer at Connecticut
RPI has been strong out of conference at times. But UConn should have the dogs to win this. UConn wins.
— Jim Connelly
Omaha at Denver
Denver may be 4-4 from its first eight league games, but the Pioneers have exceeded many people’s expectations after starting the season with a new coach and without several key pieces from last season’s squad. I don’t think DU will run into too many problems this weekend at home against a UNO team that is 0-4 against top-five teams this season, getting outscored 21-4 in those games. Denver 4-1, 4-2.
St. Cloud State at Minnesota Duluth
The country’s second-best offense will face a big challenge on the road this weekend against UMD, which is tied for fourth nationally. St. Cloud State is eighth in the same category, so these will likely be two low-scoring games. A sweep either way here would be very impressive. Minnesota Duluth 2-1, St. Cloud State 3-2.
Colorado College at North Dakota
Getting swept at Canisius put North Dakota closer to the point that UND might have to win the NCHC playoff title to get into the NCAA tournament. This week, the Fighting Hawks play at home against a Colorado College team that, like UND, hasn’t exactly been pulling up trees. CC hasn’t played at home for a while but going 1-4 in their last five games doesn’t make me feel too hopeful for the Tigers this weekend. North Dakota 3-1, 3-1.
Miami at Western Michigan
With Western Michigan second in the NCHC on 14 points and Miami tied for fourth on 12, this would be a good chance for either team to help break the current three-team logjam in the standings and perhaps start inching toward St. Cloud State (21 points). I like Western’s offense and the Broncos are at home, but I’m not sure a sweep is on the cards here. Western Michigan 4-2, Miami 4-2.
— Matthew Semisch
Minnesota State at Ferris State
The Mavericks come into this one fresh off a sweep of Michigan Tech — a nice pair of victories over the team that had been in first place of the WCHA. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, struggled against Alabama Huntsville, going to overtime twice and getting a split. I think the advantage goes to the Mavericks here, but anything can happen at Ewigleben Arena, so both games will be closer than you’d think.
Alabama Huntsville at Lake Superior State
The resurgent Lakers are back in the USCHO top 20 this week thanks to a stretch of 6 straight victories — including a sweep in Anchorage, which is never an easy thing. UAH got a much-needed OT win over Ferris State last week. I think the Lakers are hot right now, but the only red flag is that they’ve struggled at home — they’re just 2-5-1 in Sault Ste. Marie. I don’t know if that will be enough to get UAH a win, but it will make for entertaining games with a Laker sweep.
Bowling Green at Michigan Tech
A big series for both teams. Tech lost their first-place position after getting swept by Minnesota State on the road. Bowling Green, meanwhile, had the chance to take first from them but split their series with Bemidji State and failed to grasp ahold of the top spot. I think a split seems most likely, though, with both teams losing ground to Minnesota State. BG wins Friday with Tech taking the finale.
Alaska at Bemidji State
The Beavers might be looking past this series to next weekend, when they will host Michigan Tech in an outdoor game for Hockey Day Minnesota. I think that might be enough for the Nanooks to muster a win to snap their losing streak. The Beavers win Friday while the Nannoks take Saturday’s game for a split.
Northern Michigan at Alaska Anchorage
The Seawolves host another UP team this weekend after getting swept by Lake Superior State. The Wildcats have won four straight and are on the second leg of their two-week Alaska trip. I believe they’ll be tired enough to give the Seawolves a chance at a win. Wildcats win Friday and Seawolves take it Saturday.
— Jack Hittinger