Three things from Atlantic Hockey play this weekend:
Niagara took three points from Rochester Institute of Technology this weekend, continuing the tradition of odd (as in: strange) numbers when these teams get together. The all-time series between the schools now stands at 8-1-6 in favor of Niagara. The pattern has been consistent: when the Purple Eagles win, it’s usually by a pair of goals or more (case in point: Saturday’s 6-4 win) or else the contest ends in a tie after regulation, which five of the last seven have done. The Tigers’ only win in the series came in overtime in last year’s AHA semifinals.
The trio of points leaves the Purps sitting pretty atop the standings with an (insurmountable?) 9 point lead.
Canisius is still 0-7 in one-goal games after its 4-2 come from behind win over Mercyhurst on Saturday. Preston Shupe just had to score an empty net goal with 34 seconds left to seal the deal and give writers like me another bizarre stat to keep harping on about.
Not so fast
Did I say “insurmountable”? While the smart (OK, sane) money is on Niagara to win the regular season title, there is one team that could possibly catch the Purple Eagles. Air Force, which looked average before Christmas, has found its mojo and has taken 11 of 12 league points since a 4-3 loss at Niagara on Jan. 5.
The Falcons swept Robert Morris this past weekend to win the season series 3-0 and have American International coming up, followed by series with the remaining four Western pod teams. They trail Niagara by nine points with ten games to play. Why does Air Force have a shot and Holy Cross (ten points behind) doesn’t? The Crusaders won’t see Niagara again after splitting their series (and losing the goal differential tiebreaker) while the Falcons will play the Purple Eagles twice at home. In the unlikely event Niagara stumbles and Air Force can close the gap to four points going into that final weekend, it could get interesting.
Gimee some water
With apologies to Eddie Money, that was the cry in Erie, Pa. last week when a water main break shut down Mercyhurst’s campus. That caused Friday’s visit by Canisius to be postponed until this Tuesday. Canisus’ 4-2 win on Saturday has resulted in the teams currently being locked a tie for fourth place and the all-important first-round bye. The season series is tied 1-1 but the Lakers have a game in hand down the stretch.