Three Things: February 2, 2015

Three observations from this past weekend’s wild slate of Atlantic Hockey Conference action:

Bentley’s Back

The Bentley Falcons traveled west for the third time in four weekends to take on the Mercyhurst Lakers. With a brilliant opportunity to take some huge points, the Falcons opened up a 3-0 lead in the second period on Friday then held on for a 3-2 win when the Lakers came raging back.

On Saturday, Mercyhurst took a commanding three-goal lead in the first period after Chris Bodo scored twice and Matthew Zay scored on a short-handed bid. That chased goalie Jayson Argue from the game in favor of backup Gabe Antoni. The Falcons responded by scoring with less than six seconds left in the frame, cutting the lead to 3-1 in the intermission.

In the second period, Mercyhurst’s Grant Gettinger took an interference penalty in eight seconds before the team took a too many men bench minor 40 seconds later. That gave Bentley an extended 5-on-3 power play, which they capitalized on. With Andrew Gladiuk scoring his second of the game, the Falcons clawed back within one goal in about 90 seconds. They tied the game at the five minute mark when Derek Bacon scored his third of the year.

With the game heading for overtime, Kyle Schmidt decided he wanted to head home sooner, scoring with 16 seconds left. Bentley left Erie, PA with a four point weekend and third place in the standings.

Bentley returns home on Friday to start a home-and-home with Holy Cross. They remain two points back of second place Canisius. Given their earlier loss to the Crusaders before Thanksgiving and knowing the strength and intensity of that rivalry, this weekend’s games will be can’t miss in the east.

Starting To Look Like A Champ

Robert Morris has been riding the high of being a defending champion all season. They haven’t missed a beat, and they’ve been the first place team from the get-go. This weekend, in a huge trip out west to take on Air Force, they had a chance to reassert themselves of that top slot against a team getting on its customary second half run.

Responding with a four point weekend, including an overtime win, the Colonials showed their guts. After opening the year pistol hot, they slid four of seven games in the middle of the year. But they’ve now won six in a row and have an eight point lead over second place Canisius. They’re now within a single game of clinching a first round bye. If they can beat Canisius on Friday, they’ll clinch at least fifth. Sweep or have RIT lose two points at any point, and they’re hosting a second round series.

The only bad news for the Colonials this weekend is that the winter storm bearing down on the east coast forced a cancellation in their flight home, so head coach Derek Schooley and his team were forced to remain in the mountains a little bit longer:

 

 

Let’s Get Weird

Five points separate third place from seventh in the standings. Giving you an idea of what’s up for grabs, that’s two second round home series, a first round bye with a road series, and two first round home series. Two points back of that mess is the last home first round slot with Sacred Heart. With RMU all but sealing up a first round bye at this point, one less spot is open for someone.

Next weekend, third place Bentley plays Holy Cross, one of two teams tied for fourth. Mercyhurst, the other fourth place team, plays American International. Air Force, tied with RIT for sixth, plays eighth place Sacred Heart in a big series for them to try and bounce back during. RIT plays Niagara a weekend after losing to Army – the same Army team that is now only four points back of the last home first round series.

Points are at a premium, as every coach has said. Up to nine teams could end this upcoming weekend in a place in the standings different from where they started it. The only things for sure are that nobody can catch Robert Morris, and even with a sweep, Niagara cannot catch AIC, who they sit five points behind.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Going to be honest this all should be mute because there is only one person who should win the Hobey Baker this season and that is Johnny Gaudreau from Boston College. There has not been a player at any position as dominant as he has been in arguably the best conference. If he does not win the Hobey it will be a worse sticking than Nathan Gerbe got in ’08 and will show the favoritism to the midwestern schools in the selection.

    • Oops. It’s fixed now. Thanks. It’s never a good idea to write anything at airports, but my flight didn’t land until 2 a.m. so I didn’t have much choice.

  2. Well if Micheletto can hold on another couple years, he could replace Gendron at Maine in another 3 years. I hear they are only hiring losers up there. Nice job Creech. Good Grief When Will It End.

  3. Dave, I’m a huge Nate Leaman fan… In fact, when he was hired, I specifically wrote in this blog that he would have PC in the NCAAs within 4-5 years. But I don’t recall anyone, Jim C or yourself included, promoting him as an ultra high-profile coach at the time. The question is will UMass pay for an up-and-coming program builder… Like Leaman or Bazin prior to their current gigs in HEA, or Montgomery (prior to Denver) in NCHC. My guess is that ultra high-profile coach (which these guys are considered now) is not in the budget.

    • I disagree completely. Leaman took a Union program from total obscurity and a perception that it could never win anything big to its first ever regular season title and NCAA tournament berth. He was THE hot coaching commodity that year and, as I recall, was the subject of a pretty intense bidding war.

      • I know all about Union, I live here… But was not privy to the “bidding war” (and would be curious to know who missed on him). I “argued” with several people on this blog to convince them that he was right for that job. Obviously, you weren’t one of them, so I apologize.
        My point is that I’m not convinced they will go for that high profile of a hire… Are you?

  4. What should make people scratch their heads after this weekend is the USCHO poll. There is a disjunct between conference’s favorability for their results or lack thereof this weekend. Both HEA and ECAC had four teams with a bye for their tournaments and were inactive this weekend. Providence, Notre Dame, Yale, Harvard, and St. Lawrence all increased in points in the polls without playing a game. The two at the top, Boston College and Quinnipiac, lost points in the polls during their rest as the top seeds. UMass-Lowell rightfully didn’t lose a single point between weeks. There seems to be a similar trend for the bye week teams.

    However, for the teams that did play there was a discrepancy. Northeastern doubled their points with a sweep of overtime games against Maine, a 7-5 aggregate score. Cornell also doubled their points in the poll with their sweep of Union with a 3-1 aggregate score. Boston University gained 32 points in the polls for their sweep of UMass with a 7-5 aggregate. Rensselaer and Clarkson, however, lost points in the polls for their sweeps of Brown and Princeton, with aggregates of 7-5 and 6-4, respectively. UMass is comparable to Brown and Maine is comparable to Princeton in terms of the PWR, but beating them this weekend mattered more for one conference more than the other.

    So what the pollsters really told us is that if you sat as the 1 seed this weekend, you lost confidence, but if you sat as the 2-4 seeds you gained confidence (or remained unchanged in UML’s case). If you swept in HEA this weekend, you gained confidence, but if you swept in ECAC you lost confidence unless you are already seen up on the board in the poll and in the PWR (in Cornell’s case). I’m glad these polls don’t mean anything because there’s clearly a cognitive dissonance when it comes to either being inactive for being rewarded the bye or being active and sweeping your opponent at home. There is also a slant between the conferences for the teams that swept this weekend.

    • Cognitive dissonance? LOL…nice. The thing is,
      individuals who experience CD need to experience internal strife or dysphoria when confronted with a potential paradigm shift to a previously held belief. I highly doubt one weekend of play (even with the rankings distortion you purport) will cause enough egodystonia for any writer or pollster to experience CD. It’s akin to a first-year piano student becoming upset when he/she realizes French pianist/composer Chopin was actually born in Poland . This is just my opinion…:)

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