Mercyhurst has been tabbed the top team in the Atlantic Hockey Association Preseason Coaches Poll. This is the third straight year that the Lakers have been chosen the pre-season favorite by the coaches, as last season Mercyhurst shared the top spot with Holy Cross. The Lakers garnered 96 points and seven first place votes.
Sacred Heart University has been chosen second with 88 points, while collecting two first place votes. Last year’s regular season and tournament champions, Holy Cross follows with 83 points and the final first place vote. Connecticut with 55 points was picked fourth, while Air Force and Bentley tied for fifth with 51 points.
The final four teams tabbed by the league’s coaches are Canisius (45 points), Rochester Institute of Technology (36 points), Army (32 points) and American International (13 points). RIT will not be eligible for post-season action as it is in the second year of its transition from Division III.
This season’s tournament champion will garner the automatic bid and will try and better what the Crusaders accomplished last season, earning the conferences first ever victory in NCAA action. Holy Cross defeated top seed, Minnesota, 4-3 in overtime in the First Round of the West Regional in Grand Forks, N.D. The next night the Crusaders fell to North Dakota, 5-2, missing a chance to appear in the Frozen Four for the first time in school history.
The 2007 Tournament will begin on Saturday, March 3 as the eighth and ninth seed will face off in a play-in round. The quarterfinals will take place as the top four seeds host the lower four seeds on Saturday, March 10. The semifinals and finals will be held on Friday-Saturday, March 16-17 at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.
RIT and Air Force begin the regular season with non-conference contests on Friday, October 6. The Tigers will travel to Canton, N.Y. to take on St. Lawrence at 7:00 pm EST, while the Falcons host Colorado College at 9:05 pm EST. The Atlantic Hockey slate will kick-off on Friday, October 13 with American International traveling to West Point, N.Y. and face Army at 7:00 pm EST.
The Atlantic Hockey Association was formed when nine institutions joined together on June 30, 2003, to found a new Division I men’s ice hockey conference. The league is comprised of ten members: Air Force Academy, American International College, Army, Bentley College, Canisius College, the University of Connecticut, the College of the Holy Cross, Mercyhurst College, Rochester Institute of Technology and Sacred Heart University.
2006-07 Atlantic Hockey Association Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Mercyhurst (7) 96
2. Sacred Heart (2) 88
3. Holy Cross (1) 83
4. Connecticut 55
5. (tie) Air Force 51
5. (tie) Bentley 51
7. Canisius 45
8. RIT 36
9. Army 32
10. American International 13
(first place votes in parentheses)