Three things from this past week in Atlantic Hockey:
Clichés and comebacks
It’s one of the worst clichés in sports: “A two-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey”.
Call me crazy, but I’ll take a two-goal lead over a one-goal advantage any day. Someone actually went through the trouble of showing how teams are more likely to surrender a one-goal lead then a two-goal margin.
That said, the two goal, or even three-goal lead was not very safe this weekend in Atlantic Hockey play:
- On Friday, American International led Robert Morris 2-0 late in the first period, but had to settle for a 4-4 tie.
- Saturday night at Niagara saw the Purple Eagles lead Holy Cross 2-0 at the end of the first period, but the Crusaders rallied for a 3-2 victory, getting the game-winner with 2:18 to play.
- Also on Saturday, Mercyhurst jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period against Connecticut, but the Huskies scored the game’s final three goals to earn a tie.
- On Saturday, Canisius was up 2-0 on Bentley, but, guess what? Another comeback from a two-goal deficit and another tie, 2-2.
- And in the “almost” department, Army rallied from a 3-0 deficit at Rochester Institute of Technology on Saturday, twice cutting the gap to a single goal, but wound up falling, 4-3.
In case you missed it
Tuesday’s American International at Massachusetts game produced one of the most interesting box scores you’ll see this season. The Yellow Jackets were outshot 59-18, including 27-2 in the second period, but won the game, 3-2.
AIC scored twice in the second period (so yeah, on its only two shots) and held the Minutemen to just one goal over that span.
Hunter Leisner made 57 saves for the win and Alexander MacMillan got the game-winner with 5:20 to play.
That non-conference win by AIC aside, the league isn’t looking good to repeat last season when the AHA sent and unprecedented pair of teams to the NCAA tournament. Niagara was ranked between tenth and twelfth in the PairWise Rankings throughout the second half of last season, and that was good enough for the Purple Eagles to grab an at-large berth. Niagara was bolstered by a great record (23-9-5) and some success by the conference in nonleague games, making for a decent strength of schedule.
This season, with the league struggling to get OOC wins, we’re not not going to see a repeat.
Third-place Air Force, which has the best non-conference record in the league (5-3-1 including wins over Northeastern and Providence) is 28th in the PWR, best in the conference, but a long way from a top-16 spot that would give the Falcons a shot at an at-large bid.
First-place Mercyhurst comes in at 37 with Bentley in a tie for 39th.
So look for the usual postseason scramble where the it’s win-or-go-home for all AHA teams. No second chances.