With just three weeks left in the regular season, it’s time to start some serious scoreboard watching. I’ll be using this space over the coming weeks to break down each team’s playoff possibilities.
RIT – The Tigers can clinch the regular season title with three wins in their last five games. Two wins will be enough to earn a first-round bye. Still, RIT can finish as low as sixth if the Tigers go 0-5 the rest of the way.
Robert Morris – The Colonials do not control their own destiny in terms of a bye but can lock up home ice in the first round by winning four of their last five games.
Niagara – The Purple Eagles control their own destiny for a bye – but they need to win out to clinch without any help.
Air Force – See Niagara. Same thing for the Falcons. Win out and they get a bye. They play Niagara this weekend so something’s gotta give.
Holy Cross – Four wins in their last six games will lock up a first round bye for the Crusaders.
Mercyhurst – The Lakers need five wins in their final six games to clinch a home playoff game.
Canisius – As the bottom team in the West pod, the Griffs need some help to avoid traveling in the first round of the playoffs. Getting a win or two against RIT this weekend will be a step in the right direction. Anything less than a sweep will mathematically eliminate Canisius from the AHA regular season title.
Army, Bentley, Connecticut – One of these teams will get a bye in the first round. Bentley and UConn control their own destinies in this regard.
American International and Sacred Heart – Both need to win out to assure themselves a home playoff game in the first round.
The cloudy crystal ball will be clearer in a week.
USCHO.com AHA Player of the Week:
Cory Conacher, Canisius (Senior, Forward, Burlington, Ontario) – Conacher had four of his teams’ six goals last weekend, helping them to a split with Robert Morris. He had a hat-trick including the game winner on Thursday. He’s now the all-time leading scorer at Canisius with 135 points and counting.
Kyle Fletcher, Holy Cross – The sophomore had a whopping eight points last weekend to lead the Crusaders to a sweep of AIC. He had five points on Saturday, including a pair of goals.
Ryan Zapolski, Mercyhurst – Zapolski had a fantastic weekend to lead his team to a sweep of Niagara. He stopped 86 shots on the weekend, including 43 in a shutout on Saturday.
Michael Penny, AIC – The junior had a five-point weekend in a losing effort against Holy Cross. He’s second on the team in point with ten goals and 19 points.
Cody Omilusik, Army – Omilusik had a natural hat-trick on Saturday, the first for a Black Knight in over nine years, to help his team to a split with Connecticut.
Scott Pitt, Mercyhurst – The senior scored four goals and added an assist to help the Lakers to a sweep of Niagara. Pitt leads the team with 12 goals and 29 points.
Ben Ketchum, Sacred Heart – Ketchum had three goals and three assists last weekend as the Pioneers earned a split, including their first road win of the season, against Bentley.
Getting My Vote
My USCHO.com Men’s D-I Poll ballot this week:
1. Boston College
5. North Dakota
13. Notre Dame
14. Western Michigan
16. Boston University
17. Colorado College