Three things from Atlantic Hockey play in the week at was:
Atlantic Hockey went 3-4-1 in non-conference games this past week, which doesn’t sound all that impressive at first blush. But in light of the league’s 6-47-4 record coming into the week, it’s pretty darn good. Mercyhurst and Rochester Institute of Technology earned splits with Rensselaer and St. Lawrence, respectively, while Air Force went 1-1-1 in games with Colorado College (win) and Denver (tie and loss).
It helped that five of the nine games were played in AHA rinks, a welcome change of pace. Only 12 of the league’s previous 57 OOC games were played on home ice.
Air Force owns three of the league’s non-conference wins, one more than the Falcons had last year. They’ll finish their OOC schedule Dec. 29-30 at Dartmouth in the Ledyard Bank Classic tournament, taking on Northeastern in the first round and either Providence or the host Big Green.
Ups and downs
The roller coaster ride continues for American International. The last unbeaten team in conference play is undefeated no more, falling to Connecticut 8-1 on Saturday.
It was a big win for the Huskies, whom had scored a lone goal in losses to Bentley (3-0) and Boston University (4-1) the weekend before.
Add this one to the wild games AIC has played in already this season, but the Yellow Jackets haven’t cornered the market on entertainment. Sacred Heart erased deficits of 3-0 and 5-3 to defeat Army 6-5 on Friday. Drew George got the game-winner with 2:12 to play.
After the dust settled around the league, we’re left with a seven-way tie for third place, and just six points separating the top and bottom teams in the conference. Other than the Big 10, which hasn’t started conference play yet, every other league has at least an 11-point distribution from first to last. It’s early but expect parity.
It’s certainly not Boston or Minneapolis, but Rochester, N.Y. has produced it fair share of college hockey players. Former Boston College standouts Brian (and Stephen) Gionta and Marty Reasoner hail from Rochester, as do current stars Mark Zengerle (Wisconsin) and Cole Bardeau (Cornell).
Plenty of local talent was on display this past weekend when RIT hosted St. Lawrence. The visiting Saints featured a pair of freshmen from Rha-Cha-Cha: Woody Hudson and Trevor Hills, the son of RIT associate head coach Brian Hills.
Hailing from RochVegas on the RIT side were a trio of players: sophomore Dan Schuler and rookies Garrett McMullen and Mike Rotolo, who both saw their first collegiate action. Rotolo got his first start and earned his first win in net on Saturday.
Where are the turkey tourneys?
It’s been seven years since I moved from national Division III columnist to covering Atlantic Hockey, but at Thanksgiving time I’m stilling thinking about tournaments, a tradition at the small school level. There are no less than seven on tap for the holiday weekend in men’s Division III hockey, and just one, Notre Dame’s Shillelagh Tournament, scheduled for D-I.
You can’t have enough in-season tournaments, in my opinion. There will be eight D-I Tourneys around New Year’s but the more the merrier. Connecticut is the only Atlantic Hockey team that hosts a tournament (the UConn Holiday Classic, also featuring Massachusetts, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart) and that tradition will leave with the Huskies at the end of the season. Here’s hoping another AHA school or two will get into the game.
Correction: Thanks to the many readers for pointing out my omission of the Three Rivers Classic Tournament hosted by Robert Morris at CONSOL Energy Center. Last year’s inaugural tournament was a big success, and this year’s version on Dec. 27 and 28 features the host Colonials along with Penn State, Bowling Green and Boston College.