Well, we have some good news for many of you: even though this has already been a painfully long season for some, by the end of this weekend, the race for the league title will still be completely wide open. No one is on the brink of any mathematical eliminations (yet).
Nate: I’m a little late to the show, although given my abysmal track record the last few weeks, should I have even bothered to show up? Regardless, here we go. I’ll at Ingalls Rink for both games this weekend, so follow @Nate_Owen41 for some timely (or not so timely) updates.
Dartmouth at Cornell
Well the Big Green looked as though they’d figured it out, but then Union happened, eh? Rolling in on a 3-0-1 updraft, the Dutchmen blasted the Green 7-1, then last weekend New Hampshire put a lid on the in-state foes in a 4-1 result. Just like that, a cold snap in Hanover. Meanwhile, Cornell is on a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2), is 4-1-1 at home (with the only loss coming in the season-opener), and the Big Red and goalie Andy Iles have pitched five straight shutouts at Lynah Rink dating all the way back to that October 29 loss to Mercyhurst. Advantage, uh, Red. Yeah, that sounds right. 3-0 Cornell.
Nate: Cornell boasts the nation’s third best winning percentage and is riding a five game unbeaten streak. Both marks could be even better if the Big Red could have closed some games out and taken care of business against some opponents they should have beat. And oh yeah, the home shutout streak. Dartmouth is tough to get a bead on, so give me the consistency of Cornell. Cornell 4, Dartmouth 0
Harvard at Colgate
The Crimson held a 3-1 lead at home on now-No. 2 Boston University with under 12 minutes to go last Saturday, but surrendered two goals by the end of regulation and succumbed to Terriers pressure in OT in a 4-3 loss. On the heels of Friday’s disheartening 2-0 loss to Union at Fenway Park, this weekend at the league’s toughest traveling tandem will be (yet another) major indicator of exactly where Harvard stands developmentally. On that note, though, the Raiders are limping home four losses heavier than they left, with the last one smarting the worst (a 7-1 loss at Quinnipiac). The ‘Gate is a perfect 4-0-0 at Starr against the rest of the league, and I’ll let this weekend play out before I make an official call on the state of the Raiders’ mojo. 3-2 Colgate in this one.
Nate: A win both teams could certainly use after coming up empty last weekend. I always say how hard sweeps are in college hockey, yet the Raiders have been swept in consecutive weekends, while Harvard has a pair of ties over that span. Speaking of ties, the Crimson have had plenty of ’em this year (six overall), but Colgate is 2-0-2 in overtime.The Raiders senior class has scored 37 goals, or 54 percent of the teams total. That figure is boosted by Austin Smith and his nation-leading 22 scores. I think a couple of goals by the explosive senior will be the difference here. Colgate 4, Harvard 2
Rensselaer at Brown
I got news for ya, RPI: beating American International does not exempt you from Brown Rule status. (That said, a win against Brown might, as it would give the Engineers a 2-1-1 record in their last four.) For Bruno backers: Brown looked hot going into the holiday break, but a loss to Princeton seemed to bury that headline. Don’t be fooled though, as the Bears are still on a spiffy little 4-1-2 run since beating Yale on December 3. 3-1 Brown.
Nate: Brown is another tough team to get a read on…although at this point insert any team outside of RPI and Cornell and that statement could apply anyone right now. Brown has been dangerous, winning games against Cornell, Union, and Quinnipiac. But they’ve dropped some stinkers as well, although as Brian points out, they’re in the midst of a nice little run that should continue here. Brown 2, RPI 1
Union at Yale
The Dutchmen are rolling, having not lost a game in the Eastern time zone since November 12… at home to Yale. The Blue have stumbled since then, and while I haven’t seen enough of either side to make assessments on matchups, I don’t believe Union will bring anything short of its A-game to New Haven. Both teams have a lot to play for; I simply think Union is playing better and more consistently than its Saturday hosts. 4-3 Union.
Nate: Union is the only team ranked in the top-ten in both team scoring and defense, so I like there overall consistency against a Yale team that can score, but hasn’t always been solid in its own end. Yale’s special teams have been excellent this year, so that could make a difference, but I still see Union taking this one. Union 4, Yale 2
Dartmouth at Colgate
Two teams looking to turn things around. It’s hard for me to project this one; wish I could wait for Friday’s results. As such, I’ll give the Raiders the nod for track record and home-ice advantage. 4-2 Colgate.
Nate: At the risk of looking like I’m simply copying Brian, I’ve got to take Colgate here as well. To me, the overall body of works wipes out their recent struggles, while again, Dartmouth has been a bit up and down this season. Colgate 3, Dartmouth 2.
Harvard at Cornell
A week ago, I would’ve sustained that the Crimson had a fighting chance. Well, they still do, of course… but it’s not a strong enough chance for me to take a flyer on deflated Harvard. The Big Red and Lynah are like James Howlett and adamantium: super-human. 4-1 Cornell.
Nate: Harvard should snap Cornell’s home shutout streak here, but I don’t see a win happening. Cornell is simply playing too well right now. Cornell 3, Harvard 2
Rensselaer at Yale
Yale’s been all over the map this year, and the Blue are on a chilling 3-6-1 slide in their last 10. Unfortunately for RPI, the Brown Rule still applies for the weekend’s picks. 4-2 Yale.
Nate: Yale should bounce back from a loss against Union with a win against their travel partner. Yale 5, RPI 1
St. Lawrence at Clarkson
These teams split a little more than a month ago, with Clarkson winning at Appleton and the Saints emerging victorious in Lake Placid. Each squad has sputtered of late, with the Golden Knights’ offense no-showing for quite some time now and the defense and goaltending faring no better. SLU has been up and down all year, but the Saints’ peaks and valleys have been a little more sinusoidal, and a little less chaotic. There appears to be a downward trend for the Saints right now, but geez, they can’t both lose. Here’s a little payback for the Saints, who will be hungry to capitalize on a disjointed – if home-standing – Tech. 3-1 SLU.
Nate: This will be the first one I’ll disagree with Brian. I think Paul Karpowich will be the difference in the battle between two teams from the North Country. Clarkson 2, Saint Lawrence 1.
Union at Brown
This league is all about the surprises, but I can’t count on those when making reasonable picks. This is Union’s game to lose. 4-2 Dutchmen.
Nate: As noted before, Union plays a very solid all-around game. Tough to pick against them here. Union 4, Brown 1