Back to Full Strength
After a lost weekend in Colorado Springs, where the Army Black Knights lost a pair of games to archrival Air Force and then 10 players to suspension for violating team rules, Brian Riley’s squad suffered a pair of home losses to Bentley on Feb. 6 and 7.
Getting several players back in the lineup, as well as a strong goaltending performance from sophomore Jay Clark, helped the Black Knights rebound last weekend with a 4-1 win and 2-2 tie against Canisius. By this weekend’s games with Sacred Heart, the Black Knights will have all but one player back.
“We’re glad to put it past us,” said Riley. “Sports teaches you life lessons, and this was a good example. The (suspended) players made a mistake. They suffered the consequences. The team suffered the consequences.”
Last weekend Clark stopped 76 of 79 shots to improve his record to 6-6-4 and his save percentage to .913.
“We’ve been going with the hot hand, and that’s ‘Clarkie’ right now,” said Riley.
“Based on who we were playing, we were very happy to come away with three points. Canisius is a very talented team.”
Riley says he’s seen a lot of talent throughout the league.
“I seem to be saying that every week: ‘Boy, this team is good’,” he said. “I’m serious when I say anybody can win this thing. It makes for a very exciting playoffs, and it will be exciting as teams jockey for position heading into the playoffs.”
Starting the Home Stretch
With three weeks left in the regular season, much is left to be decided. But here’s what we do know at this point:
Air Force and RIT will not be playing in the preliminary round, Both have clinched at least a sixth-place finish.
Air Force needs a single point to clinch at least a fourth-place and a home quarterfinal series; RIT needs two.
AIC and Connecticut are still mathematically in the hunt for a first-round bye, but cannot finish in the top four.
The crystal ball will become clearer this weekend with 10 more games in the books.
All Good Things
Both RIT and Holy Cross had streaks stopped last weekend. The Tigers’ 11-game winning streak went poof in a 6-4 loss to Sacred Heart, while the Crusaders had their nine-game unbeaten streak ended in a 4-1 loss at Bentley. Those were the first- and second-longest unbeaten streaks in Division I … until Friday. Boston University now has the longest current streak at eight games. Bentley is up to five games without a loss, the longest such streak for the Falcons since well before any of the current players were born: the 1980-81 season.
Mercyhurst’s much-anticipated nine-game homestand came to an end on Saturday, with the Lakers compiling a 7-1-1 record in those games. That vaulted Mercyhurst from seventh to a tie for third place in the standings. The bad news for the Lakers is they now play five of their final six regular-season games on the road.
Co-Player of the Week for February 9, 2009
Matt Pierce — Mercyhurst
The senior forward had five points, including four goals on Saturday, to lead the Lakers to a 2-0, 6-2 sweep of AIC.
Co-Player of the Week for February 9, 2009
Bear Trapp — Sacred Heart
Trapp had a six-point weekend, including a pair of goals, in a split at RIT. He now holds the Sacred Heart career assist record with 93.
Goaltender of the Week for February 9, 2009:
Jay Clark — Army
Clark stopped 76 of 79 shots last weekend to help the Black Knights to take three points from Canisius. He made 34 saves in a 3-1 win on Friday and then stopped 42 shots in a 2-2 tie on Saturday.
Rookie of the Week for February 9, 2009:
Cameron Burt — RIT
The freshman from Detroit, Mich. had a goal and three assists, all on the power play, to help the Tigers to a home split with Sacred Heart. Burt now has 18 points (8-10-18) on the season.
Air Force sophomore Jacques Lamoureux leads the nation in several categories: goals (23), power-play goals (12), and game-winning goals (seven). Lamoureux is second in Division I with 39 points.
Standing Room Only
Air Force had two more sellouts last weekend, its fifth and sixth in a row, eighth and ninth of the season. Those nine sellouts are a school record for any sport in a single season. Air Force has two home games left in the regular season.
Five AHA players have been nominated to participate in the NCAA Skills Challenge, held annually at the Frozen Four. Matt Lundin (Mercyhurst), Zach McKelve (Army), Jesse Newman (RIT), Matt Pierce (Bentley) and Greg Flynn (Air Force) are in the running. You can go
here to vote for your favorite players.
With just league games left, here’s how Atlantic Hockey fared in nonconference games this season:
Air Force: 5-3 (.625)
Bentley: 2-4 (.333)
Canisius: 2-2-2 (.500)
Holy Cross: 1-3-2 (.250)
Mercyhurst: 2-6 (.250)
Army: 1-5 (.167)
RIT: 1-5 (.167)
Connecticut: 1-7 (.125)
AIC: 0-5-1 (.083)
Sacred Heart: 0-7-1 (.063)
TOTAL: 15-47-6 (.265)
Air Force senior Mike Phillipich has been named one of ten finalists for the Lowe’s senior CLASS award. The award recognizes excellence on the ice, in the classroom, and the community. Phillipich is the lone AHA finalist, joining Andrew Carroll (Minnesota-Duluth), Erik Condra (Notre Dame), Matt Cook (Union), Chris Hahn (Maine), Trevor Hyatt (Alaska-Fairbanks), Mathias Lange (Rensselaer), Jeff Lerg (Michigan State), Jordan Pearce (Notre Dame) and Dean Strong (Vermont).
The winner will be announced at the 2009 Frozen Four.
USCHO covers Atlantic Hockey all week long on the Atlantic Hockey Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.