Atlantic Hockey Playoff Picture Update: Feb. 18, 2017

All it took was one night to throw the Atlantic Hockey playoff picture on its head – again. Going into Friday, the playoff matchups looked a little something like this:

First Round Matchups:
11) Niagara at 6) Mercyhurst
10) AIC at 7) RIT
9) Sacred Heart at 8) Bentley

Quarterfinals Byes:
TBD at 1) Canisius
TBD at 2) Air Force
TBD at 3) Army
5) Holy Cross at 4) Robert Morris

After last night’s results, the playoffs have changed considerably. Mercyhurst and Holy Cross remain tied for fifth place. Though they split the season series with a 1-1-2 record, the Lakers would win the secondary tiebreaker scenario, which is based on conference wins. Currently, the Lakers have 11 wins to the Crusaders’ 10.

First Round Matchups:
11) Niagara at 6) Holy Cross
10) AIC at 7) Bentley
9) Sacred Heart at 8) RIT

Quarterfinals Byes:
TBD at 1) Canisius
TBD at 2) Air Force
TBD at 3) Air Force
5) Mercyhurst at 4) Robert Morris

Now for the stuff everyone’s probably wondering about. No matter what happens tonight, at least two bye slots will be up for grabs next weekend. A third can be up for grabs if Army is unable to vanquish Holy Cross.

Air Force and Canisius:
-The two teams officially have the top two seeds in Atlantic Hockey. Air Force has six points on the table compared to Canisius’ two, since the Falcons have tonight remaining at RIT and next weekend at home against Sacred Heart. Canisius, off tonight, plays on Thursday against Mercyhurst in their season finale. So while the regular season crown can’t be determined tonight, what happens tonight in the Falcons’ game at RIT will determine what could happen on Thursday.

Army West Point:

-The Black Knights can clinch a first round bye tonight, with the road branching off into two different directions from there. If Army West Point beats Holy Cross, they clinch a first round bye and second round home ice advantage. They can also clinch a second round home series with a tie, but it would also need a Robert Morris victory or tie over Mercyhurst combined with a Sacred Heart win or tie over Bentley.

-Army West Point can also clinch a minimum first round bye with several scenarios, though these wouldn’t assure them of home ice advantage in the second round. If they tie the Crusaders, they would need either a Robert Morris tie against Mercyhurst or a Sacred Heart tie against Bentley.

-If RMU beats Mercyhurst, Army is through to the second round in at least fifth place.

Robert Morris, Holy Cross, and Mercyhurst:
-All three of these schools have home ice advantage clinched for at least the first round. They can assure themselves of playoff positioning with several scenarios tonight, but none of those scenarios impact the byes.

Bentley and RIT:
-Bentley didn’t mathematically clinch home ice in the first round of the series last night, but it did give them a six-point lead over Sacred Heart with three games left to play. The Falcons need only a point tonight in order to seal up home ice in the first round.

-If Bentley gains at least one point, that will also give RIT home ice in the first round. The Tigers can also control their own destiny in this regard and can clinch home ice in the first round with at least a point against Air Force.

 

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