Things had to break just right last weekend for Rochester Institute of Technology to clinch the regular season Atlantic Hockey title, and that’s exactly what happened. Niagara and Air Force split a pair of wild games, and Robert Morris had a win but also had to settle for a tie (in a wild comeback), opening the door for the Tigers, who posted a pair of shutouts in a sweep over Canisius.
It’s the fourth regular season title for RIT in just five years in the league. The Tigers shared the crown with Air Force in 2009 and finished second in 2008. RIT won it outright last season, as well as 2007, its first year in the league.
“We’re proud of our consistency,” said associate head coach Brian Hills after RIT completed the sweep of Canisius with a 6-0 win on Sunday. “I think it says a lot about our program. That said, it’s just one of our goals.”
While RIT has reached one of its goals, there are several still in the running for the other three first-round byes. Here’s where we are with two weekends left in the regular season:
RIT – The Tigers have clinched first place and a first-round bye.
Robert Morris – The Colonials control their own destiny for the other West Pod bye. Win out and it’s theirs.
Niagara – The Purple Eagles can claim a bye if they can wind up with one more point than Robert Morris and Air Force (they lose the tiebreaker to both). They trail RMU by two points but have a game in hand and lead AFA by a point with both team having four games left. Win three games and they wrap up a home ice playoff spot.
Holy Cross – The Crusaders can clinch a bye with any combination of a win or tie and a Bentley loss. Holy Cross ends the regular season with a pair of games against Bentley next weekend.
Air Force – The Falcons are still in the running for a bye but need some help. They can clinch at least home ice on the first round by taking three points against Mercyhurst this weekend.
Mercyhurst – The Lakers are not mathematically eliminated from a bye but need to win out and get some help. This weekend’s games against Air Force will go a long way to determine home ice in the playoffs.
Connecticut – A big sweep last weekend has put the Huskies in the driver’s seat for a first round bye. They lead Bentley by two points with four games to play. The teams square off this weekend.
Canisius – The Griffs are five points out of a home ice playoff game with four games to play.
Bentley – The Falcons need to keep winning and need a lot of help for a bye (a sweep of UConn this weekend would be huge), but are in very good shape for home ice. Bentley controls its own destiny in that department, needing four points to lock up a home game.
Army – The Black Knights need three points this weekend against AIC to lock up a home playoff game.
American International and Sacred Heart – Both need help to secure home ice, and could be eliminated from that race with losses this weekend.
Even after the dust settles on this coming weekend, there could still be a lot to be determined. Check this space next week as we break down the last games of the regular season.
USCHO.com AHA Player of the Week:
Brian Haczyk, Niagara – The senior continued his amazing season with four goals, including a hat-trick, in a split with Air Force. His 26 goals lead all of Division I.
Shane Madolora, RIT – Madolora posed back-to-back shutouts, his fourth and fifth of the season, to lead the Tigers to a sweep of Canisius and the AHA regular season crown. Statistically, he is now the top goaltender in Division I, leading in save percentage (.938) and GAA (1.82).
Adam Roy, Holy Cross – The senior allowed one goal on 33 shots to help the Crusaders to their third straight weekend sweep. Roy is 6-0-1 in his last seven starts.
Erik Vos, Holy Cross – Vos had a five point weekend (two goals, three assists) against Army.
Jeffrey Reppucci, Holy Cross – Another Crusader who had a big weekend, the defenseman had a goal and three assists.
Greg Noyes, RIT – The rookie defenseman had a goal and three assists last weekend. He leads all D-Men at RIT with 16 points so far.
Tyler Brenner, RIT – Brenner had three goals and an assist last weekend to help the Tigers to a sweep of Canisius. His 23 goals are fourth in Division I.
Trevor Lewis, Robert Morris – Lewis had three goals last weekend, including two in the final two minutes to play on Saturday to help the Colonials to a comeback tie against Mercyhurst.
Getting My Vote
My USCHO.com Men’s D-I Poll ballot this week:
1. Boston College
2. North Dakota
8. New Hampshire
10. Notre Dame
16. Boston University
17. Western Michigan