The second of the year, especially in Atlantic Hockey, is typified by a mad dash to the finish line and all the associated chaos that comes with it. Everyone, including Chris Lerch and me, love focusing on the absolute anarchy that comes when teams are jostling for position.
The start of the second half might fly under the radar a little bit, and it really shouldn’t. Sandwiched between the holidays were two key league series, including one that could decide some playoff positioning later this year.
Holy Cross split four points with Canisius, each taking home a victory. On Friday, the Golden Griffins scored three goals on eight shots in the second period, taking home a 3-0 victory in the Hart Center despite being outshot 30-18.
Cameron Heath was a one-man wrecking crew, book-ending the goal tallies around Casey Jerry’s second of the season. The goals were the first two for the defensemen, with the third coming on the power play.
On Saturday, the Crusaders rallied to earn the split, scoring a 3-0 victory of their own. Up 1-0 through two periods that didn’t featured just 30 shots, split evenly at 15-15, Holy Cross slammed the door shut with a 12-3 shot advantage and two goals in the third. Scott Pooley and Mitch Collett scored insurance goals for the power play first period goal from Danny Lopez.
The two points kept Canisius from vaulting over RIT and Robert Morris, while keeping some distance between Holy Cross and Mercyhurst. Had the Griffs achieved the four-point weekend, they would have ended the weekend tied for second with Air Force. Holy Cross, meanwhile, remains four points back of the Lakers, who are tied with the Griffs for fifth and the final bye spot.
Salute The Troops
Air Force picked up four points with a sweep of Sacred Heart this weekend thanks to strong third periods. Tied 0-0 into the third on Friday, the Falcons took a 2-0 lead before holding on for a 3-1 win that included an empty net goal. They then rallied from down 2-1 through two periods on Saturday to win, 3-2.
With the wins, Air Force is now in second place by one point over a tied-up RIT and Robert Morris. But they’re also right on the heels of first place Army, who didn’t play a conference game while in the Ledyard Bank Classic at Dartmouth.
I always find the dynamic in Atlantic Hockey interesting because of Army West Point and Air Force. The duo are the only Division I military academy schools because of the absence of Navy. They split a two-game series at West point earlier this year and have two games coming up at the end of the month in Colorado.
The non-conference weekend gave Atlantic Hockey fans something to at least be satisfied with. In their respective holiday tournaments, AHC teams won at least one game, and Robert Morris won the Three Rivers Classic.
The Black Knights officially scored a tie against Dartmouth in the Ledyard Bank Classic but lost a three-round shootout to determine who went to the championship game. They then beat Colgate, 4-1, to finish third. Mercyhurst, meanwhile, lost to Minnesota, 5-1, in the first game at the Mariucci Classic but rallied for a 3-2 overtime win over a plucky Alabama-Huntsville team.
Separately, Bentley lost two non-conference games to Vermont in Burlington, though these weren’t part of a tournament.
The highlight, though, belonged to RMU. The Colonials shutout Ferris State, 1-0, before pummeling Quinnipiac, 5-2, in the championship round of a tournament they host in Pittsburgh. Playing before 4,000-plus fans, the Bobcats had a 1-0 lead after the first period before watching the hosts roar back for five-unanswered goals. Quinnipiac scored a late power play goal to salvage a three-goal defeat instead of four.