1. Mercyhurst – The Lakers are 6-1-1 in their last eight games and it all starts in net. Senior Max Strang is having a career year in is first year as the starter. Strang has a .930 save percentage on the season and a 2.65 goals against average. Neither number leads the conference but they are good enough to have the Lakers sitting in first place. But during the Lakers eight game run, Strang has been even better. He has 1.87 goals against average during that time. Strang and the Lakers will be put the test this weekend as they travel to Wisconsin.
2. Air Force – The Falcons had the weekend off. The last time the Falcons played, they went winless, losing at RIT and Merycyhurst. The Falcons have the players to stop the losing streak and win this weekend. Kyle De Laurell and Cole Gunner are tied for second in Atlantic Hockey with 12 points. Stephen Caple also leads Atlantic Hockey with a 1.97 goals against average in his first year as the starter.
3. RIT – After a slow start to the season, the Tigers have responded with a five game unbeaten streak. The Tiger swept Holy Cross this past weekend to move into second place in the standings. The return of Shane Madolora has certainly helped the Tigers, who have given up 26 goals on the season, tied for the fewest in Atlantic Hockey with Air Force. Cameron Burt looks to rounding into form as he is riding a three game point streak (1 goal, 4 assists). Michael Colavecchia is also on a roll with a four game point streak (3 goals, 3 assists). He looks primed to outdo his freshmen year performance.
4. Bentley – The Falcons had a disappointing weekend. They went 0-1-1 against Mercyhurst and fell to fourth in the standings. It is the Falcons first winless weekend since the end of October. With this week off, it gives the Falcons extra time to prepare to get back on the winning track. The Falcons three Brett’s (Switzer, Gensler, Hartung) will be key if the Falcons want to continue their early season success. Switzer and Gensler lead the team with 11 points while Hartung leads the Falcons with five goals. The Falcons will also need to continue to get the solid play from Branden Komm in net.
5. UConn -The Huskies, with the top power play in the country, defeated Sacred Heart and then hung tough with Yale before eventually falling to the Bulldogs. The Huskies went 6-for-8 on the power play in the two games. The Huskies power play is clicking at 31 percent and has helped them score the most goals in Atlantic Hockey. The Huskies also have Atlantic Hockey’s top scorer in Brant Harris. Harris leads the league with 13 points and nine goals.
6. Holy Cross – The Crusaders were swept by RIT over the weekend. The Crusaders have lost five of their last seven and have been outscored 32-21. The Crusaders averaging a league best 3.10 goals per game but surrender four goals a game. Only Sacred Heart gives up more goals a game. The Crusaders power play has slipped during their recent slide. After being near the top of the nation a few weeks ago, the power play has dipped to 22 percent.
7. Canisius – The Gold Griffins are on a five game winless streak. They haven’t lost all of those games, they’ve managed to tie twice, including against Lake Superior. The Golden Griffins have scored a league worst 17 goals on the season and are averaging 1.55 goals a game. If that keeps up the rest of the season, the Golden Griffins could be in for some more struggles.
8. AIC – A three game unbeaten streak as the Yellow Jackets feeling pretty good. It’s their first unbeaten streak of the season and it comes against some fairly good opponents. The Yellow Jackets tied UConn and Army before shutting out Brown. The Yellow Jackets will need to carry that momentum if they hope to move up the standings some more. Steve Mele has been a big reason for Yellow Jackets success. He is having a career year, already doubling his previous career high in goals, and is just one point short of the career high he set last year.
9. Niagara – The Purple Eagles haven’t won since they beat Holy Cross on Nov. 4. They’ve scored just four goals in the last three games, but three of those goals came against Holy Cross on Nov. 5. The Purple Eagles need to find that scoring touch from last year. The Purple Eagles average 2.10 goals a game. Sophomores Scott Arnold, Ryan Rashid and Patrick Divjak will need to produce more like they did last year id the Purple Eagles are to have success.
10. Army – The Black Knights produced two ties over the weekend but continue to struggle scoring. Their 17 goals scored on the season is tied with Canisius for last in the league. Only Andy Starczewski has more than five goals on the season, and he has six. It looks to be a long season for the Black Knights.
11. Robert Morris – The nation’s best penalty kill has translated to success this season. The Colonials have yet to win consecutive games. But they are coming off a huge win over Mercyhurst, and having last week off gave the Colonials time to plan and hopefully carry the momentum from that win. With a very senior heavy team (11 seniors) it’ s only a matter of time before the Colonials turn it around.
12. Sacred Heart – The Pioneers won. For the first time in the 2011-2012 season, the Pioneers can put one in the win column. And what a way to get the victory, beating No. 8 Yale. It could be a step in the right direction for the Pioneers. If they carry the momentum into their next games against Niagara, it could be the springboard for a better season.