Three things from Atlantic Hockey play this weekend:
Hot hot hot
Which Atlantic Hockey team has the longest unbeaten streak right now, tied for longest in the nation? Did you guess American International? The Yellow Jackets are unbeaten in their last six games after a 4-0, 9-1 sweep of Sacred Heart. AIC is now two points behind Army for tenth place and five points away from a first-round home playoff series with five games to play.
Who else is hot? Air Force is 7-1-2 in its last ten games. Niagara and Rochester Institute of Technology are both 6-3-1 over that span. Teams at the other end: Sacred Heart (0-10), Army (0-6-3) and Canisius (3-7).
Niagara clinched its first AHA regular season title despite a wild 6-5 overtime loss at Robert Morris on Saturday. Holy Cross, the only team that could mathematically catch the Purple Eagles, lost on home ice to Connecticut, 4-1, giving Niagara the title.
“We went from losing in overtime to walking into the dressing room to find out we’d won the title,” said Niagara coach Dave Burkholder after the game on Saturday. “These last four games, we’re playing for PairWise ranking, so there’s still a lot to play for these last two weeks.”
Niagara is currently in a tie for tenth position in the PairWise. If it can hold that position, odds are that the Purple Eagles are in the national tournament no matter what.
The rest of the coveted byes and almost-as-covered first-round home ice playoff series are still very much up for grabs, with two points separating fourth through ninth place.
Holy Cross is the team to watch as the Crusaders, currently in a three-way tie for that fourth and final bye, have two games in hand on everyone near the top of the standings. Those two games are both against winless Sacred Heart.
… “if the season ended today”. Since that day is two weeks from now, it’s time to look at such things.
Most teams have four games remaining. Holy Cross and Sacred Heart have six; AIC and Army have five. So we’ll use winning percentage to seed the teams.
2. Air Force
3. Holy Cross
5. RIT (wins tiebreaker with Connecticut)
7. Robert Morris
8. Bentley (wins tiebreaker with Canisius)
12. Sacred Heart
This looks very, very similar to this reporter’s preseason predictions, especially if you switch Holy Cross and Bentley, my only major mistake if things wind up this way.