Another weekend is done and life in Atlantic Hockey got a little more blurry. Air Force and Mercyhurst, both previously unbeaten in league play, lost over weekend. The weekend also marked the return of Shane Madolora to net for RIT. But the end of the weekend also brought several surprises. Bentley sits in second place behind Air Force in the standings. While it may just be a strong start, these Falcons may be real. While we’re only two weekends into conference play, its easy to see that this is going to be a fun rest of the season.
1. Mercyhurst – The Lakers are on a roll. They have won five of their last six games, including games at Cornell and a weekend sweep of UConn. The only lost during that stretch was on Friday against Robert Morris. But the Lakers responded by downing Air Force the following night. The Lakers, while not leading in any major statistical category, are cruising. And that’s in part thanks to the freshmen. The Lakers have four of the top ten freshmen scorers in the AHA.
2. Air Force – The Falcons seven game unbeaten streak was snapped but they remain in first place. They rank behind only Holy Cross in goals per game and are first in goals against. But unfortunately it didn’t do them any good over the weekend. The loss at Mercyhurst drops them down a spot.
3. Bentley – Bentley may be the surprise of the season. They need only six more wins to reach last year’s total of 10. The Falcons trail only Holy Cross and Air Force in goals per game. While the Falcons may be having success now, there are reason for concern. The Falcons have the most penalty minutes of any AHA team, but their penalty kill is successful 76 percent of the time. The Falcons have a huge weekend ahead of them, traveling to Mercyhurst for a pair of games.
4. Holy Cross – The Crusaders continue to have to best power play in Atlantic Hockey. While the Crusaders got blown out by UMass, they rebounded and down Sacred Heart the following night. The Crusaders have been struggling of late, winning only two of the last five games. They travel to RIT this weekend in another big AHA matchup.
5.UConn – The Huskies have had a slow start to the season after last year’s success raised expectations. The Huskies look to get back on track after going 0-1-1 last weekend at Mercyhurst and at AIC. The Huskies have won back-to-back games just once this season, and that was on Oct. 18 and 19. UConn will try and change that this week when they face Sacred Heart pn Wednesday and then travel to Yale on Saturday.
6. RIT – The Tigers had Shane Madolora back in net and won for the first time since Oct. 15. In fact, the Tigers swept the weekend from Mercyhurst and Air Force, both previously undefeated in conference play. The Tigers might be getting their swagger back after a slow start and five game without Madolora. They have another test this weekend as Holy Cross comes for a two game visit.
7. Canisius – It’s unsure if the Golden Griffins start is for real. The Golden Griffins have 12 freshmen on the roster. But after a winless weekend, the young Golden Griffins faced rival Niagara on the road and came out with a 1-1 tie. While it wasn’t a win, it still stopped their two game losing streak. The young team faces another stiff test when Lake Superior State comes to visit this weekend.
8. Robert Morris – The Colonials handed Mercyhurst it’s first conference loss of the season but couldn’t score against AIC in an up and down weekend. The Colonials have yet to win consecutive games this season. If they can do that against Army this weekend, it could go a long way for this team.
9. Niagara – The Purple Eagles faced rival Canisius at home and had trouble scoring. Niagara scored just once but Cody Campbell bailed out his teammates had managed a tie. The Purple Eagles face a stiff test next Tuesday when they travel to Cornell.
10. AIC – The Yellow Jackets have just two wins on the season and it appears as thought it will be another long year for them. Another winless weekend went by, but the Yellow Jackets did manage a tie against UConn. That could give the Yellow Jackets heading into the weekend, when they host Army and travel to Brown on Tuesday.
11. Army – The Black Knights finally have a win. Their 2-1 victory over Sacred Heart was the first of the season. But any momentum didn’t carry over to Saturday as Black Knights fell to Bentley. The Black Knights are having trouble scoring, averaing 1.44 goals per game. That’s not going to take Army very far.
12. Sacred Heart – The Pioneers are still winless. The Pioneers give up an average of five goals a game and score 1.70 goals a game. They’re not going to win many games like that. Their defense and offense have yet to be on the same page. The Pioneers scored four times against Bentley but gave up six. They scored once against Army but gave up two. It’s going to be another long year for the Pioneers.