Earlier this week, I joined Hockey on Campus‘ Bernie Corbett to discuss the playoff race in Atlantic Hockey, and it got me thinking …
Parity is something most college hockey conferences love to brag about, but until recently, it never really existed. The front-runners were almost always the front-runners and the also-rans were almost always the also-rans, with a few extraordinary years strewn about throughout history.
That trend has changed the last four seasons. UMass Lowell and Providence have become definite powers in Hockey East while Maine and New Hampshire have slid backwards; even Merrimack had a run to the Hockey East title game in 2011. The ECAC’s rise to power has been clearly evident, with back-to-back national champions and a few other programs – most notably Quinnipiac – without a title but still one of the nation’s best teams.
Penn State has quickly become a player in the Big 10 and Minnesota State, Michigan Tech and Bowling Green are plowing through the rest of the WCHA.
When talking with Bernie this week – you can hear that interview on this weekend’s show – we talked about the parity in Atlantic Hockey, and when you look back through just the past decade, it’s really apparent. In fact, until recently, it might be the only league to really have parity the last decade.
Robert Morris is the team leading the pack this season, with a 20-5-5 overall record. They’re going to finish in first place in the league, and when they do, will become the eighth different program to finish in first place in the last 11 seasons. The only programs to win multiple regular-season titles in Atlantic Hockey since 2005 are RIT and Air Force; you can see the list below.
Just two seasons ago, Niagara was a 20-win team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team – the first time AHA has received an at-large bid. This season Niagara has three wins in 28 games (3-22-3). That same season, Bentley finished with just 12 wins and now two years later, the Falcons are in second place behind Robert Morris with 15.
ATLANTIC HOCKEY CHAMPIONS
2014-15 – Robert Morris 20-5-5
2013-14 – Mercyhurst 21-13-7
2012-13 – Niagara 20-5-2
2011-12 – Air Force 21-11-7
2010-11 – RIT 19-10-8
2009-10 – RIT 28-12-1
2008-09 – Air Force 28-11-2
2007-08 – Army 19-14-4
2006-07 – RIT 21-11-2
2005-06 – Holy Cross 27-10-2
2004-05 – Quinnipiac 21-13-3
You want to see what parity looks like? That’s it right there. Outside of a run by RIT, there has been a different champion crowned in the regular season almost every season.