As we wind down towards the Christmas break, it’s a good time to look at where each team in Atlantic Hockey stands. What’s been going well (and what hasn’t), as well as who’s making the biggest impact.

Air Force (6-7-2; 4-3-2 AHA)
Plus – The Falcons have a couple of nice wins this season, including a victory over Clarkson in the Denver Cup, the first time Air Force has won a game in that tournament in 14 tries. They also had another of their patented last-second wins against Holy Cross, 7-6 on Dec. 4.

Minus – The Falcons are struggling on the penalty kill, allowing 13 goals in 46 attempts (71.7%).

Team MVP – Defenseman Scott Mathis has five goals this season and 12 total points.

Top Rookie – Jason Fabian has six goals, fourth best in the league.

American International (4-9; 4-8 AHA)
Plus – The Yellow Jackets had only five wins last season; they already have four this season. They’ve beaten Air Force, RIT and Mercyhurst so they’ve shown they can beat the top teams in the league. The AIC power play is second in the AHA (24.4%).

Minus – Those big wins have been followed by big losses. Air Force came back to whip AIC 12-0 the night after the Yellow Jackets had beaten the Falcons. And coming off a convincing 6-2 win over RIT, AIC was hammered 8-1 by Union.

Team MVP – Sophmore Adam Peskach leads the team with 14 points.

Top Rookie – Jon Puskar has some big goals so far, and has fit right in on the first line.

Army (5-9-1; 4-6-1 AHA)
Plus – The Black Knights have managed to take points in all but one weekend so far, including a nice rebound against Niagara, beating the Purple Eagles 4-1 after losing by the same score the night before.

Minus – Army has allowed 23 goals in the third period, almost as many as they have in the first and second periods combined (24).

Team MVP – Senior forward Cody Omilusik has eight goals so far.

Top Rookie – Defenseman Dax Lauwers leads a small rookie class with a goal and an assist.

Bentley (5-8-2; 4-5-1 AHA)
Plus – The Falcons put a nice streak together in late November, going 3-1-1. Goaltender Joe Calvi is back to the form we saw early in his career.

Minus – The Falcons are struggling on offense, scoring 2.33 goals per game, partly due to a power play that’s last in the league (8.7%).

Team MVP – Calvi, who is third in the league in GAA (2.58) and tied for second in save percentage (.922).

Top Rookie – Brett Gensler is tied for the team lead in goals with six.

Canisius (6-6-4; 5-5-4 AHA)
Plus – Canisius has been able to take points every weekend in league play, and has already beaten the teams it trails in the standings (Robert Morris and Niagara). The Griffs will get another shot at both of them.

Minus – Canisius was expected to score a lot of goals, but the offense so far has been average. But the Canisius defense is second in the league, thanks in part to a superb penalty kill (86.1%).

Team MVP – Senior Cory Conacher, the reining player of the year in the AHA, leads the team with 17 points.

Top Rookie – Kyle Gibbons is tied for second on the team with six goals so far.

Connecticut (5-7-3; 5-4-1 AHA)
Plus  - The Huskies have had trouble scoring goals in the past, but the offense is on fire right now, scoring 17 goals in UConn’s last two games. Connecticut is averaging 3.53 goals a game, third best in the league.

Minus – It’s a good thing that the offense has been clicking, because the Huskies have allowed four goals or more five times in their last six games.

Team MVP – Andrew Olsen has provided senior leadership on a young team, and has scored seven goals, tied for tops on the roster.

Top Rookie – Cole Schneider is tied for the team lead in goals (7)  and leads the Huskies in points (16). He’s the top scoring rookie in the AHA right now.

Holy Cross (6-7-2; 5-3-2 AHA)
Plus – The Crusaders are the top team in the AHA’s east scheduling pod, partially thanks to some late-game heroics. Holy Cross is 3-0-2 in overtime.

Minus – Coach Paul Pearl is still waiting for one of his goalies to step up and win the starting spot.  Sophomore Thomas Tysowski and rookie Derek Kump have been hot and cold this season.

Team MVP – Senior Everett Sheen leads the team with 15 points.

Top Rookie – Shayne Stockton is seeing time on the power play and four goals so far, including a game winner.

Mercyhurst (5-9-1; 5-7 AHA)
Plus – The Lakers have shown stretches of inspired play, including wins over Air Force and Robert Morris.

Minus – Mercyhurst is in a funk right now, losing five of its last six since some off-ice problems emerged. The normally potent offense has scored two goals or less in those five losses.

Team MVP – Goaltender Ryan Zapolski is second in the league in save percentage (.922).

Top Rookie – Daniel O’Donoghue current leads the team in scoring with 10 points.

Niagara (10-6-2; 7-4-0 AHA)
Plus – The Purple Eagles had just three wins at this time last year; they’ve got 10 already this season. Seniors Paul Zanette and Bryan Haczyk are having career seasons, with 46 points between them.

Minus – Freshman goalie Carsen Chubak was off to a strong start before suffering a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 23.

Team MVP – Zanette, who leads the nation in goals per game (.89)

Top Rookie – Scott Arnold is second on the team with 12 goals.

Rochester Institute of Technology (8-7-2; 7-3-1 AHA)
Plus – The Tigers have the best league winning percentage in the league (.682) and trail first place Robert Morris by a point with two games in hand.

Minus – RIT is the most penalized team in Division I, averaging 19.9 minutes a game.

Team MVP – Junior Tyler Brenner leads the team with 11 goals.

Top Rookie – Adam Mitchell has seven goals to date.

Robert Morris (10-4-2; 7-4-2 AHA)
Plus – The Colonials are off to their best start in school history and boast two of the top four scorers in the league: seniors Nathan Longpre (23 goals) and Denny Urban (21 points)

Minus – Robert Morris hasn’t faired well in overtime, going 0-3-2 so far.

Team MVP – Urban leads all AHA blueliners in scoring by a wide margin.

Top Rookie – Colin South is the only rookie getting any significant playing time on a veteran roster.

Sacred Heart (2-12-4; 2-7-4 AHA)
Plus – It’s hard to find positives so far for the Pioneers, who are having trouble scoring goals, and allowing them in bunches. But there’ still a lot of hockey to play, and Sacred Heart is only a point out of a home ice playoff spot.

Minus – The worst offense, worst defense and worst power play in the league spells 2-12-4.

Team MVP – Sophomore Eric Delong leads the team with 12 points

Top Rookie – Tye Lewis leads the freshman class with three goals.

USCHO.com AHA Player of the Week:

Shane Madalora, RIT – The sophomore led the Tigers to a sweep at Mercyhurst last weekend, including making 43 saves in a 4-2 win on Saturday, the most saves made by an RIT goalie in a game since 2006.


Andrew Olson, Connecticut – The senior forward had a pair of goals and a pair of assists in a 9-3 win over Sacred Heart.

Ryan Rashid, Niagara – The rookie’s seventh goal of the season was a big one –  an overtime game winner against Colgate.

Getting My Vote

My USCHO.com Men’s D-I Poll ballot this week:
1. Yale
2. North Dakota
3. New Hampshire
4. Duluth
5. BC
6. UNO
7. Maine
8. Michigan
9. Miami
10. Union
11. Denver
12. RPI
13. BU
14. Wisconsin
15. Notre Dame
16. Alaska
17. Minnesota
18. Merrimack
19. Robert Morris
20. Colorado College

Check back for picks on Friday.