Dan: 155-90-23 (.621)
Chris: 162-83-23 (.647)
This Week’s Picks:
Friday, October 10 and Saturday, October 11
Mercyhurst at Air Force
Dan: Now THIS is how you start out a season, with two of the strongest teams in the league going head to head over two straight nights. With the limited amount of on-ice practice, I’m siding with the more experienced Lakers for a sweep over the young Air Force roster.
Chris: Is it weird to claim that this series, the first games for both teams, may go a long way in deciding the regular season championship? This is the only meeting between two squads picked to finish at or near the top of the standings. These games are typically close, but I’m giving the edge to the Lakers despite the Falcons’ home ice advantage. Mercyhurst sweeps.
Western Michigan at Canisius
Dan: Canisius could be a capable team of winning a game here, but I’m not sold on them against a good team from the NCHC. That, and the hockey vibes emanating from the First Niagara Center don’t scream the same as TD Garden (just kidding, Sabres fans!) WMU sweeps.
Chris: The Golden Griffins have won their share of non-conference games, especially at home (although this series will be played at First Niagara Center), but I think WMU has the advantage. Western sweeps.
Lake Superior at Robert Morris
Dan: It’ll be a very emotional weekend for the Colonials when they raise their championship banner from last year’s AHA. The tough part will be when they come down off the emotion and have to get back to hockey. The Lakers lost two to Michigan Tech, which makes this a tough draw for both teams. I would love to pick RMU on the second night, but I have the feeling lady momentum is with Lake Superior. Lake Superior sweeps.
Chris: Lake Superior State already has two games in the books but I don’t think the Lakers will spoil RMU’s banner party. Robert Morris sweeps.
Merrimack vs. Holy Cross
Dan: If Holy Cross wants the rebuilding talk under new coach David Berard, at least one win this weekend will help. Last season, the Crusaders beat Boston College, and they joined AIC, Air Force, Bentley, and Sacred Heart as AHA teams beating Hockey East opponents. That said, I don’t think they can pull one out against the Mack to start the year. Merrimack sweeps.
Chris: Holy Cross hosts on Friday, Merrimack on Saturday. I think the Warriors win no matter what the venue. Merrimack sweeps.
Friday, October 10
Clarkson at Niagara
Dan:Niagara regressed last season after earning the AHA’s first ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. That said, they could be a sneaky good team when healthy. THAT said, they’re not healthy to start the season. At least Clarkson is trying to piece their team back together after losing some of their team’s best players. I think this is close, but I’m picking Clarkson to win a tight one.
Chris:Niagara used to be invincible at Dwyer Arena, but Clarkson opened last season at Dwyer and promptly swept the Purple Eagles. I think the Golden Knights win there again. Clarkson wins.
St. Lawrence at RIT
Dan: RIT opens their much-heralded new rink in a watershed moment for all of Atlantic Hockey. The emotion of that moment will combine with the fact that SLU lost four of their five best scorers. Greg Carey, who made the Hobey Hat Trick last year, is gone, as is his brother Matt. Matt Weninger, a guy who played a ton in goal? Also gone. The emotion of the night coupled with the youth, inexperience, and lost pieces for the opponent combines for another watershed moment for the league – RIT wins.
Chris:The Tigers always seem to play well against St. Lawrence, and they’ll have the added incentive of their first official game at the Polisseni Center. I think that will be the difference. RIT wins.
AIC at Union
Dan:Last year, one of the worst teams in AHA the previous season went up to #1-ranked UMass-Lowell and beat the big dog in his own yard. If AIC can pull this off, it would come close to pulling off the emotion of that moment. But Union is the defending national champion, and I don’t see them losing this game. Union wins.
Chris: Like Dan, this one reminds me of Sacred Heart vs. Massachussets-Lowell last season, but I think the result will be different here. Union wins.
Saturday, October 11
St. Lawrence at Niagara
Dan: A night after losing to RIT, St. Lawrence has to go to Niagara in an ECAC travel partner swap. Tough draw with the travel against a hostile crowd and a team that’ll be hungry for its first win. Niagara wins.
Chris:I think SLU is going to struggle this season, and the Purple Eagles will get the victory here. Niagara wins.
Bentley at Quinnipiac
Dan:Former MAAC and AHA foes meet up for what seems like an annual meeting. Last year, Quinnipiac outshot Bentley, 50-13, but only won by one goal, 4-3. I think Bentley’s growing pains with a gelling defense and a new goalie will show against a Q’pac offense that scored 141 goals last season.Quinnipiac wins.
Chris: Bentley certainly has the tools to win this game, but the Bobcats have more depth and will get the win on home ice. Quinnipiac wins.
Clarkson at RIT
Dan: Clarkson is substantially better than St. Lawrence, at least on paper. That prevents RIT from opening the new barn with a sweep of the North Country ECAC compatriots.Clarkson wins.
Chris: Clarkson has done well against RIT in the past (5-0-2 since the Tigers moved to Division I) and I think that trend will continue. Clarkson wins.
Friday, October 10 and Sunday, October 12
Sacred Heart at Army
Dan: Both teams should be vastly improved from last season. I’m excited to see Army’s young guys, but I’m excited to see how Sacred Heart can pick up from last year and continue building. Edge to the team with more returning pieces, but I’m calling for Army to claw back and earn a split the old fashioned way.Sacred Heart wins on Saturday, Army on Sunday.
Chris: Despite where these teams are predicted to finish this season, I think this will be a highly entertaining series. They’ve had some wild games in the past and I think both contests will be decided late, with Sacred Heart winning on Friday and Army winning on Sunday.