Atlantic Hockey coaches tab Air Force as top team in coaches’ poll

Air Force has been picked by Atlantic Hockey coaches as the favorite to win the league’s 10th regular season.

The Falcons received eight of 12 first-place votes, edging out Niagara, which received three first-place votes. Robert Morris, picked eighth by the coaches, garnered the remaining top vote.

“I wish winning the league was as easy as winning the coaches’ poll,” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore. “The bottom teams have gotten so much better. There are no ‘gimmes.'”

Serratore noted that in 2009, Air Force and Rochester Institute of Technology tied for the regular-season title with 20 wins each, but Falcons needed just 15 victories to take the league last year.

RIT coach Wayne Wilson picked up on that theme. Last year, third-place RIT finished two points out of first place, but just three points above seventh.

“Every win, every point, is going to make a difference during the year,” said Wilson.

School (First-place votes)Total points
1. Air Force (8)112
2. Niagara (3)101
3. Mercyhurst89
4 (tie). Bentley87
4 (tie). Rochester Institute of Technology87
6. Holy Cross74
7. Connecticut65
8. Robert Morris (1)61
9. Canisius38
10. Army30
11. American International20
12. Sacred Heart19

Atlantic Hockey media day notes

• Atlantic Hockey extended its contract with the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y., to host the league championship games for an additional two years, through the 2014-15 season.

• Two AHA contests will be nationally televised by CBS Sports Network this season: Fri., Jan. 4, Robert Morris at Army; Sat., Jan. 12, Army at Air Force.

“We here at West Point are very excited about having CBS Sports Network televise our game with Robert Morris,” said Army coach Brian Riley in a statement. “It is a wonderful opportunity not only for both teams but it’s also great exposure for our league. I’m sure that it will be a great atmosphere here at Tate Rink, which will help add to what I’m sure will be a excellent college hockey game.”

• Atlantic Hockey retains last year’s playoff format, marking the first time in league history that it has remained the same for two consecutive seasons. The top four teams receive a bye into the quarterfinal round with seeds 5-8 hosting seeds 9-12 in a best of three series. The first round winners will be reseeded and will face the top four teams in the league in the quarterfinals, with the winners advancing to Rochester on March 22, 2013.

• The conference championship game will again be televised regionally by Time Warner Cable Sports.