This Week in Atlantic Hockey: Feb. 11, 2010

Sweeps and Splits

With just three weekends left in the Atlantic Hockey regular season, it’s getting crucial. Air Force and Mercyhurst ventured out of conference for the final times this season, while the four AHA series resulted in two sweeps and two splits.

American International recorded its first four-point weekend of the season, and first in two years with a pair of victories over Bentley. In the first game, the Yellow Jackets built a 6-1 lead over the Falcons early in the second period and then held off a Bentley comeback attempt for the 6-5 win. On Saturday afternoon, Mike Little scored with 1:09 to play in overtime to give AIC the sweep.

“With the credit due to AIC, they outworked us and outplayed us all weekend,” said Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist. “That’s why they got four points and we didn’t. Hopefully it was a lesson learned by our guys.”

Canisius recorded the other sweep, taking four points from Connecticut. The Griffs won 3-1 on Friday and 5-2 on Saturday, when the Huskies’ third-period comeback attempt fell short.

“This group definitely doesn’t quit and they give themselves an opportunity [to win],” UConn coach Bruce Marshall said after the game. “But we’ve got to find a way to get it done.”

The splits were between Holy Cross and Army (Crusaders won Friday and the Black Knights on Saturday), and RIT and Sacred Heart. On Friday, the Tigers were just the second road team to earn a victory at the Milford Ice Pavillion this season, winning 5-2 and snapping the Pioneers’ 12-game unbeaten streak. But the Tigers could not get the sweep, falling 5-4 on Saturday.

The two points obtained by each team helped the Pioneers to move into third place in the standings, and reduced the Tigers’ magic number of points to clinch the regular season title to six.

“While we’re disappointed [with the loss on Saturday], we can’t lose sight of getting a win and say that the weekend wasn’t worthwhile,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “[Sacred Heart] is not an easy place to play.

“There is a lot of tough hockey games left. Everyone’s in the same boat. I don’t think there’s anyone that look at their schedule and say, ‘Well, there’s two in the bank.’ Anyone can knock off anyone.”

The Scoop

Crunching the numbers going into weekend No. 20 of a 22-week season:

• RIT can finish no lower than sixth place and clinches the regular season title with a combination of six points in its last six games.

• Air Force can finish no lower than seventh place and needs six points in its last four games to clinch home ice in the quarterfinals. The Falcons need two points to avoid the play-in round.

• Sacred Heart can finish no lower than seventh place and needs 10 points in its last six games to clinch home ice.

• Mercyhurst can finish no lower than eighth place and needs eight points in its last six games to clinch home ice.

• Canisius can finish no lower than eighth place and needs 10 points in its last six games to clinch home ice.

• Army can finish no lower than ninth place and cannot finish higher than fifth without some help.

• Bentley cannot finish any higher than second place and any lower than ninth. The Falcons need help to finish higher than seventh.

• Holy Cross can finish as high as third and as low as 10th. The Crusaders need help to finish any higher than seventh.

• AIC can finish as high as sixth and as low as 10th. The Yellow Jackets need help to finish higher than ninth.

• Connecticut will finish between eighth and 10th and needs help to finish out of the basement.

We’ll run the numbers again next week.

Weekly Awards

Player of the Week for Feb. 8, 2010:
Andrew Favot — RIT

Favot chalked up a five-point weekend for the third time this season. The junior had three goals and two assists to help the Tigers to a split at Sacred Heart. Favot has a team-leading 30 points in 27 games to date.

Goalie of the Week for Feb. 8, 2010:
Andrew Loewen — Canisius

Loewen made 52 saves on 55 shots to post a pair of victories last weekend over Connecticut.

Rookie of the Week for Feb. 8, 2010:
Adam Pleskach — AIC

Pleskach had a goal and two assists to lead the Yellow Jackets to a sweep of Bentley. One of his assists was on the winning goal in overtime on Saturday.

Rocky Mountain Low

Air Force and Mercyhurst played travel partners last weekend, with the Lakers traveling west to join the Falcons in taking on No. 2 Denver and No. 10 Colorado College.

Each team came away 0-2, including a 2-1 Air Force loss to Denver in overtime at Cadet Ice Arena.

“Our guys played really well tonight,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said after the game. “The difference in the game was [Denver goalie] Marc Cheverie. We had some terrific shots and he was great.

“The bad part about it is that at this point in season there are no moral victories. They are the No. 2 team in country and they found a way to get the job done. But I wouldn’t switch teams based on what I saw tonight. I really feel bad for our kids because they really gave it everything tonight. We have to bottle this recipe, rest up and hit those last four games on the sprint.”

The Falcons lost 2-0 at Colorado College, the first time Air Force had been shut out in 106 games.

Mercyhurst fared no better, with a 4-1 loss to Denver and a 5-3 loss at Colorado College. The Lakers finished the regular season 0-6 in non-conference games, but are 12-8-2 in league play, good four fourth place in the AHA.

Busy Weeks

Canisius’ Jason Weeks scored his 50th career goal on Saturday, making him the top goal-scorer in the school’s Division I era. Weeks passed David Deeves, who lit the lamp 49 times from 1998 to 2002.

“Those numbers represent a four-year commitment,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith. “He just keeps chipping away and it’s been fun to watch him get those numbers.”

Hobey Watch (and Listen)

Episode 3 of the Hobey Watch Podcast focuses on potential Hobey Baker candidates from Atlantic Hockey and features an interview with Canisius coach Dave Smith. Click here to listen.

Contributing: Erik Abell, Nate Owen


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