Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, Jan. 31

Posted by: Melissa Burgess

As we head into the final month of regular-season action in Atlantic Hockey, the race for the top is heating up. The Golden Griffins remain in first place with 26 points and a 13-7 record, but the Crusaders are on their heels, matching their point total but with a 10-6-6 conference record.

Mercyhurst’s Lakers are just two points behind, with Robert Morris, Niagara and AIC all eclipsing the 20-point mark as well.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings, as of January 31:

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

Niagara Drops Two

The Purple Eagles lost both of their games against Air Force this past weekend, with a 4-2 decision Friday followed up by a 5-3 loss Saturday. With these losses, Niagara fell two spots in conference standings.

On Friday, after a scoreless first period, the Falcons tallied twice in the middle frame, with goals from Evan Giesler and Brady Tomlak.

Niagara got on the board near the midway point of the third period on a goal by Sean King, and the teams would trade goals for the last nine minutes of the game. Walker Sommer made it 3-1 on the power play, just 40 seconds before Noah Delmas made it 3-2, also on the power play. Kyle Haak scored the insurance goal with 1:32 to play. Niagara went 1-for-8 on the man advantage.

Saturday, the Purple Eagles got an early edge thanks to Stanislay Dzakhov, but Air Force rallied back for two goals before Niagara tied it, all in the first period.

Air Force then scored two straight in the second, including a power-play goal by Matt Serratore. Niagara added a shorthanded goal by Derian Plouffe in the third, but Air Force scored once more and captured another win.

Sacred Heart Gets the Week Off

Sacred Heart hasn’t played since January 19, when they beat Air Force 2-1. The second game of that series was postponed due to the government shutdown, and then they had this past weekend off.

The Pioneers will certainly be glad to return to action this coming weekend, when they host Robert Morris for a pair of games. Friday’s game is scheduled for 10:35 a.m., while Saturday’s meeting is at 2:05 p.m.

The Battle for First

Arguably *the* matchup to watch this weekend sees the top two teams in Atlantic Hockey face off, as Holy Cross visits Canisius for a pair of games.

As the season heads toward its end, every game, every point, matters even more, and this could be a crucial matchup heading into playoffs. Both teams are coming off split weekends, and it’ll be an especially interesting set of games. Canisius’ Dylan McLaughlin (14-24) and Holy Cross’ Scott Pooley (18-13) are two of the top scorers in Atlantic Hockey, behind only RMU’s Brady Ferguson (14-26), so look out for those two this weekend.

In addition, the final non-conference game of the season plays out on February 6 as AIC visits UMass Lowell.

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