Atlantic Hockey: Three Things Jan. 28

You can’t make this stuff up

We’ve enjoyed the story line of the #rileybowl for four seasons now. On 13 occasions so far, Jack Riley, a redshirt senior forward for Mercyhurst, has faced off against Army West Point, coached by his dad, Brian Riley. Sophomore Brendan Riley also players for the Lakers.

This past weekend’s series marked the final regular season games for Jack against his father’s team. The games were at Tate rink, the place the Riley brothers grew up watching and learning hockey.

On Friday, Jack had a goal and an assist in a 2-2 tie between the Lakers and Black Knights. Saturday was more of the same. Much more. Jack recorded his first career hat-trick and chipped in an assist in a 6-1 Mercyhurst win. Brendan also had a goal (of course), opening the scoring less than a minute into the contest.

In all, the younger Rileys factored in seven of the eight Mercyhurst goals against their dad’s team.

“As a dad, it’s obviously a proud moment to see them out on the ice,” said Brian Riley after Saturday’s game. “We knew coming into the weekend that it was going to be a battle. (Mercyhurst has) been on a roll and you gotta give them a lot of credit.”

“(It was) definitely a special moment,” said Jack Riley. “Like I said yesterday, anytime I can come here and play on the rink that I learned how to skate in, it’s a pretty amazing experience. To have help from my teammates and look over and see my dad smiling, means a lot. We’re just doing the right things right now and we gotta keep it up.”

“It was a pretty special experience to be able to come back here, play, get a goal on my first shift and Jack to get a hat trick<” said Brendan Riley. “I don’t think we could’ve scripted it any better.”

No, you couldn’t.

Reversal of fortune

Back in early December, Niagara swept Air Force in Colorado Springs, 6-3 and 5-2. At the time, the Purple Eagles were near the top of the standings; the Falcons near the bottom.

But after that series, it’s been Air Force that has performed well, going 6-3 in the nine games since then. Niagara on the other hand, is just 2-10-1 since that road sweep.

Those records include this past weekend’s rematch. Just like the last time, the road team came out on top in both games, with the Falcons sweeping the Purple Eagles, 4-2 and 5-3. Both games went down to the wire, with Air Force getting an empty-net goal in each to seal the wins.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore after Saturday’s game. “This was a good win. If you aspire to be a champion, you have to be able to come from behind and you have to be able to win on the road and we did both tonight.”

Air Force was the only team among the ten in action this weekend to earn the maximum four points. As a result, the Falcons are in ninth place, but just four points out of fourth in the closely-packed AHC standings.

Nothing’s changed

Holy Cross and Canisius went into the weekend tied for first place, and that’s how they remained when the dust settled. Both had to settle for splits after winning their games on Friday.

Canisius opened with a 3-2 win at Bentley, but then lost to the Falcons by an identical score on Saturday. In Friday’s contest, Cameron Heath’s fifth goal of the season early in the third period turned out to be the game winner.

On Saturday, Bentley build a 3-0 lead and then held off Canisius for the 3-2 victory. Kyle Schmidt’s 50th career goal was the difference.

Holy Cross had a relatively easy time with RIT on Friday, cruising to a 4-0 win. TJ Moore had a goal and two assists for the Crusaders.

Saturday was a different story as the Tigers opened a 2-0 lead early in the second, period. The Crusaders staged a comeback but RIT’s Jordan Peacock broke the 2-2 tie with just 1:38 left in the contest.

Canisius and Holy cross square of head-to-head this weekend with a pair of contests at HarborCenter.