Here’s a look back at three things from the weekend that was in Atlantic Hockey:
Approaching the checkered flag
The finish line nears with only one week left in the regular season in Atlantic Hockey, and just three of 11 final positions in the standings has been determined.
Robert Morris wrapped up its first regular season title on Friday, defeating Rochester Institute of Technology 4-3. The Colonials led wire-to-wire. They have clinched a first-round bye and home ice in the quarterfinals. RMU finishes up with a pair of games against Niagara.
Here’s where the other 10 teams stand:
- Canisius: The Golden Griffins swept Mercyhurst to clinch a first-round bye and home ice for the quarterfinals. Canisius can finish anywhere from second to fourth. The Griffs will travel to Air Force to close out their regular season.
- Bentley: The Falcons skated to a pair of ties with Army and those two points were enough to ensure a bye and home ice. They will finish between second and fourth. Bentley finishes with single games at Sacred Heart and home against Holy Cross.
- Mercyhurst: The Lakers got zero points last weekend but can still finish anywhere from second to sixth. Mercyhurst is at RIT this weekend.
- RIT: The Tigers split with Robert Morris to hold onto fifth place. RIT can end up anywhere from third to seventh and host Mercyhurst to end its regular season.
- Air Force: The Falcons salvaged a single point against Niagara, eliminating their chance for home ice in the quarterfinals. They can still get a bye by finishing fifth, but can also end up in sixth or seventh place. The Falcons host Canisius this weekend.
- Holy Cross: The Crusaders split with Sacred Heart and have just a single game left, at Bentley on Saturday. Holy Cross is still in the running for a first-round bye, and will finish between fifth and seventh.
- Sacred Heart: A split with Holy Cross leaves the Pioneers in eighth place and that’s where they will finish the regular season. They have one game left, hosting Bentley on Thursday.
- Army: The Black Knights will finish in ninth place regardless of the outcome of their final two games against American International.
- AIC: The Yellow Jackets will face Army, the team ahead of them in the standings, but they trail the Black Knights by five points with just four points up for grabs. That means AIC will finish either 10th or 11th.
- Niagara: The Purple Eagles won on Friday for the first time since Nov. 22 and have a chance to move out of the basement on the final weekend of the regular season. Niagara will play a pair of games against Robert Morris, and will finish either 10th or 11th.
The most dangerous lead…
It’s a well-worn axiom that a two goal lead is the “most dangerous lead in hockey” because the team ahead may let up due to the extra margin. Personally, I think a one-goal lead is more dangerous because, you know, one is less than two.
But in each game of this past weekend’s highly entertaining series between RIT and Robert Morris, a team blew a two-goal lead and lost.
On Friday, the Tigers were up 3-1 early in the second period, but the Colonials rallied for a dramatic 4-3 win, capped off by a breakaway, game-winning goal by Cody Wydo with 9.6 seconds left in the contest.
The following night the Tigers turned the tables, erasing a 3-1 second-period deficit on three straight goals by senior Brad McGowan to win 4-3..
The largest margin overcome this past weekend was three goals, erased by Niagara in a 4-4 tie with Air Force. The Purple Eagles had won the night before to end an 18-game winless streak.
Three points against the Falcons made for Niagara’s second-best weekend of the season so far and serves notice that there won’t be any easy outs in the playoffs.