Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, October 18

Posted by: Melissa Burgess

The Atlantic Hockey season is well underway, with each team having hit the ice at least once in game action. While several teams are still waiting on their first conference action, there are already a few standouts in the standings and statistics just a few short weeks in.

It’s obviously still early, but Army sits atop the Atlantic Hockey standings after winning a pair over AIC. Air Force, the 2017 conference champions, are awaiting their first conference game.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings:

  1. Army
  2. Niagara
  3. Canisius
  4. Holy Cross
  5. Mercyhurst
  6. Robert Morris
  7. Bentley
  8. AIC
  9. Air Force
  10. RIT

(After the jump: who’s hot — and who’s… not)

Air Force finding its wings

Air Force entered this season coming off last year’s conference championship, and so far, things are looking pretty good for the team. Through four games, they haven’t lost, going 3-0-1. They haven’t faced any conference action yet, but won twice over Arizona State and beat Alaska Fairbanks once, tying them in their other matchup.

Junior Matt Koch is averaging a point-per-game so far, with two goals and two assists in four games. Evan Giesler, also a junior, has four assists in as many games as well.  Air Force has four freshmen this season, with a lot of returning players – including eight seniors.

Air Force returns its top two leading scorers from last season, as senior Jordan Himley Jordan Himley returns for his fourth season with the team; last season, he led Air Force with 37 points (22-15) in 41 games. Junior Kyle Haak is also back after potting 33 points (14-19) last season.

Junior goaltender Billy Christopoulos returns for his third season with the team, and has played in all four games so far this season with a 1.96 GAA and .934 save percentage in the small sample size.

American International struggling to succeed

Through five games, including three conference matchups, AIC has yet to find the win column. The Yellow Jackets are 0-4-1 overall, and 0-2-1 in Atlantic Hockey conference action. The AIC team this year includes nine freshmen, but the team also returned many of its leading scorers and top goaltender from last season.

The team opened their season with two losses to Army, 5-1 and 2-1, respectively. They then tied Bentley 3-3 before falling to Connecticut 6-4 and UMass 3-1. AIC will continue its busy schedule with a pair of games at Penn State on Thursday, October 19 and Friday, October 20. Their next conference action comes on Tuesday, October 24 against Bentley.

New head coaches notch first victories

Both Canisius and Niagara have new bench bosses this season, as Trevor Large and Jason Lammers take over, respectively. The Griffs and Purple Eagles are both 1-1 overall on the season, with each team winning one conference game.

Niagara opened their season a 5-1 loss to Colgate, but found victory in their first conference game, a 4-3 win over Robert Morris on October 6. Canisius narrowly fell to that same Colonials team 4-3 in their opening game but defeated Robert Morris in the second game of the back-to-back, 4-1. That win marked Large’s first NCAA victory as a head coach.

Both teams return to action this weekend, with Niagara host RPI Friday and Union Saturday, and Canisius hosting Colgate Saturday.

Stay tuned to College Hockey News for an upcoming feature on these two new head coaches in Atlantic Hockey, coming soon.

 

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