Atlantic Hockey Picks: Dec. 31 – Jan. 4

At A Glance:

Last week’s record: 3-1-1
Overall Record: 29-16-1
Over-.500 weeks: 4/6 (.667)

This Week’s Picks*:
*All games are subject to change.

Thursday, December 31
Robert Morris at Niagara
Fun story: Bentley played Air Force on New Year’s Eve, 2010. I invited my girlfriend at the time to the 5 p.m. puck drop but omitted any details about the JAR. She was a recent Bentley alum and loved hockey, so I planned a New Year’s date night around a college game for her alma mater, which she was unaware played Division I. Don Juan over here watched her mildly gross out over the old smell of Zamboni exhaust in the JAR, and I subsequently ruined dinner after botching the measurement of stir fry rice (apparently six cups was wrong). We’ve been married six years, and we’re having our first child in April. I don’t know what that means for this game, but anyone planning date nights tonight should only cook two cups of rice. Or don’t. It’s a better story that way. Robert Morris wins.

Saturday, January 2 and Sunday, January 3
Mercyhurst vs. Canisius
Atlantic Hockey’s greatest classic rivalry finally hits the ice with Canisius’ return to hockey. The Golden Griffins split their opening weekend against Robert Morris, but the pause ultimately put this team into a weird position of completely restarting its season. A home-and-home with Mercyhurst always feels good to me, and this year’s Laker team is on a tear. Last year, the Griffs swept the Lakers in their only meeting at the end of the season with an aggregate 9-2 win. I think the Lakers get some revenge this weekend. Mercyhurst sweeps.

Army West Point vs. Sacred Heart
Another classic rivalry between two teams vying for a boost in the standings. Sacred Heart’s .500 three points is a smidge better than Army West Point’s .333, but the six points in this weekend would go a long way to vaulting both teams into the upper echelon especially since AIC is off after its series against Holy Cross was postponed. I like a split in this series with two welcome back games for the ages.

Long Island University vs. Bentley
These are sneaky big games for the Falcons after the “first half” ended with five points but four losses. The lone non-conference games on the schedule, LIU is an opportunity to reboot and tinker over two nights while fighting for wins against a team that’s been on fire to start its program. The long layoff after RIT aside, Sunday’s game is the inaugural home game at the Northwell Health Ice Center. That’s a huge accomplishment for the Sharks, who I hope will debut some gorgeous sweaters for the weekend. I think it’s going to be a watershed moment for the program, and I really want to take a Shark sweep, yet I can’t shake the feeling that Bentley plucks the home game on Saturday. Split.

RIT at Robert Morris
RMU’s game against Bowling Green is its only game after December 5 but before Niagara. Having that game – and the Bowling Green game before it – should remove any rink rust, which is good because RIT tied Colgate and beat Niagara around the holidays. This could be an all-time great series for two teams starting to pick up steam, but everyone knows how high I am on the Colonials. RMU sweeps.

Sunday, January 3 and Monday, January 4
Air Force at Niagara
I hate referring to teams as desperate, but there’s a distinct chance both teams enter this series still looking for their respective first win in league play. In a percentage-based points format, a big weekend can turn things around on a dime, but neither team can really afford to lose points on the back end. That’s going to make for an exciting series. Last year, Air Force swept past Niagara at home with a pair of one-goal wins, but the Purple Eagles won five of six points at home earlier in the season. Both of those games went to overtime with one 5-on-5 regulation overtime and a 3-on-3 extra point tie overtime coming on the next night. Based on the layoff, I’m picking Niagara, but don’t be surprised if Air Force grabs a game or more. Niagara sweeps.