Lakers, Crusaders Co-Faves In Atlantic Hockey

Mercyhurst and Holy Cross have been tabbed the preseason favorites in Atlantic Hockey, according to the preseason coaches’ poll released Wednesday at the league’s annual media day.

The Lakers and the Crusaders received 59 points apiece, with Mercyhurst obtaining four first-place votes to Holy Cross’ three.

Sacred Heart, which led the Atlantic Hockey standings for much of the season a year ago before falling in the final weeks, was chosen third with 49 points and collected the final first-place vote. Rounding out the top five were Canisius (40 points) and Connecticut (29 points).

Bentley (23 points), Army (18 points) and American International (11 points) were picked for positions six through eight, respectively.

Mercyhurst began last year’s playoff as the third seed and won its first-ever Atlantic Hockey tournament crown, having twice captured the title as a member of the MAAC. The Lakers nearly upset top-seeded Boston College in the first round of the NCAA tournament last March, dropping a 5-4 decision.

Holy Cross, the 2004 Atlantic Hockey tournament champion, will host the semifinals and finals of the 2006 tournament at the Hart Center with the semifinals on Friday, March 17 and the finals set for Saturday, March 18. The quarterfinal round will be Saturday, March 11 at the site of the highest seed.

Mercyhurst kicks off the 2005-06 season with a nonconference weekend series against the Michigan Tech Huskies starting on Friday, October 7. The Atlantic Hockey slate will kick off Friday, October 28 with three games on tap. Army will travel to Holy Cross, Canisius will battle Sacred Heart and Connecticut will take on Mercyhurst.