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Conference Season Preview

College Hockey:
2009-10 Atlantic Hockey Season Preview

Have you caught your breath yet? Ready for more? It’s certainly going to be difficult to top the 2008-09 college hockey season, which included the most intense, exciting postseason in history. Atlantic Hockey contributed to the madness, with Air Force claiming its third consecutive league title and then knocking off Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament before falling in double overtime to Vermont in bizarre fashion.

Can the Falcons make it 4-for-4? The coaches think so, picking the Falcons to repeat as regular season champions.

“Air Force is the benchmark that we’d all like to follow,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “They’ve changed the mind-set of our league and the rest of college hockey with their performance in the NCAA tournament.

“We’ve been both good and lucky,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “To win three times, you have to be.

“We’re very proud not only to be the champions of Atlantic Hockey but as members of Atlantic Hockey. The depth of the league has gotten better each year from top to bottom.”

Last season was supposed to be the Year of the Goalie in Atlantic Hockey, with so many talented netminders in the league. And while there were plenty of standout performances in net, several teams put up impressive offensive numbers last season. RIT, Mercyhurst and Air Force sported the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 offenses in Division I, averaging upwards of four goals a game. With plenty of firepower returning, plus some stellar defenses and familiar names in net, expect the usual battle to the wire in Atlantic Hockey, with the winner a force to reckoned with come tournament time.

Click on any team name at the top of a section below to view its individual season preview. Teams are listed in order of predicted finish by USCHO.com

Air Force

2008-09 overall record: 28-11-2
2008-09 AHA record: 20-6-4
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: First (tie)
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): First
Outlook: Lamoureux, Volkening and Fairchild are three reasons why the Falcons are favored to win their fourth straight title.

Mercyhurst

2008-09 overall record: 22-15-3
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey record: 17-8-3
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: Third
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): Second
Outlook: The Lakers have it all: solid goaltending and defense combined with one of the best offenses in the nation.

RIT

2008-09 overall record: 23-13-2
2008-09 AHA record: 20-6-2
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: First (tie)
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): Third
Outlook: The last two seasons, the Tigers have some up short in the playoffs in front of partisan crowds at the Blue Cross Arena. Will they send their fans home happy this year? They have to get there first, and RIT has the tools to return.

Canisius

2008-09 overall record: 15-16-6
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey record: 12-12-4
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: Fifth
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): Fifth
Outlook: Canisius has been building for this season for the past three years. Home ice is is not just a possibility; it’s an expectation.

Holy Cross

2008-09 overall record: 13-20-5
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey record: 10-15-3
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: Seventh
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): Fourth
Outlook: The Crusaders underachieved last season, but return almost intact.

Army

2008-09 overall record: 11-19-6
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey record: 10-12-6
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: Sixth
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): Sixth
Outlook: The Black Knights need to win on the road and get stellar play from Jay Clarke and Owen Meyer if they want to return to the top half of the standings.

Bentley

2008-09 overall record: 19-17-2
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey record: 15-11-2
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: Fourth
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): Seventh
Outlook: The Falcons must overcome the loss of their top line, but return their goaltending and most of their defense.

Sacred Heart

2008-09 overall record: 9-16-3
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey record: 11-23-3
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: Eighth
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches poll): Eighth
Outlook: The Pioneers will have a new coach in a few days and will need to jell quickly.

Connecticut

2008-09 overall record: 9-26-2
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey record: 8-18-2
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: Ninth
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): Ninth
Outlook: This young team took its lumps last season but should improve assuming the Huskies can find a capable replacement for the departed Beau Erickson.

American International

2008-09 overall record: 5-28-2
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey record: 5-22-1
2008-09 Atlantic Hockey finish: 10th
2009-10 predicted finish (coaches’ poll): 10th
Outlook: The Yellow Jackets will be better than last year, but probably not enough to escape the basement.


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