December 17, 2006
2006-07 Atlantic Hockey Mid-Season Report

By Ken McMillan

Mid-Season Report

Mid-Season Reports
College Hockey America
ECAC Hockey League
Hockey East


Welcome to the league, Rochester Institute of Technology. As long as the Tigers aren't eligible for the post-season, the Tigers figure they will leave their mark during the regular season. RIT leads the league in offense (3.93 goals per game), defense (2.60), power-play efficiency (23.5 percent), and penalty killing (88.1 percent). RIT owns the best winning percentage (.773) in league play, and sits in second place, one point behind Sacred Heart.


Sure, Eric Ehn of Air Force was a College Hockey America all-star last season but this junior winger has taken a great liking to Atlantic Hockey. Through 20 games, Ehn has already surpassed last season's point totals (14 goals, 21 assists, 35 points) with 16 goals and 20 assists – he leads the nation in points and points per game (1.80). Ehn has scored in 16 of Air Force's 20 games thus far and has multiple points in eight contests.


Rick Gotkin was surprised as anybody when the league's coaches made his Mercyhurst team the favorites to win the regular-season title. Maybe Gotkin had a keen sense that his team would struggle through the early going. The Lakers are off to a 4-8-2 start in league play, having been swept by league-leaders Sacred Heart and RIT. Gotkin had a boatload of points to replace from his last graduation class, in addition to losing top-tier defenseman Jamie Hunt to the Washington Capitals organization. It's no wonder the Lakers' goals-against average has shot up by almost a full goal, while goal production is down by more than a half-goal. Mercyhurst is finding it harder to break free of opponents, posting three ties, going 1-3 in one-goal decisions and 0-4 in two-goal games.


Josh Heidinger of Canisius has scored seven goals and assisted on 14 more. He ranks fourth in the nation among rookies in points-per-game (1.24) and only two first-year players have posted more points: Islanders' draft pick Kyle Okposo of Minnesota and Flyers' draft choice Andreas Nodl of St. Cloud State each have 23 points.


Atlantic Hockey is not enjoying a strong out-of-conference showing this season so there's not much to pick from here. League-leading Sacred Heart knocked off Rensselaer of the ECAC Hockey League for the second season in a row, prevailing 5-4 in Troy on Nov. 17. The Pioneers' best showing, albeit a loss, might have been a 7-5 setback at Michigan State.


Holy Cross has not gained much traction through a challenging first half, capped by a five-game winless streak. The Crusaders dropped all four points to Sacred Heart and five of eight points to Mercyhurst. Holy Cross is 1-6-2 on the road, including 0-4-2 in conference play.


Sorry, Mercyhurst, but the road does not get easier from this point. The Lakers still have a tournament in Denver and 10 of 14 contests against the top four teams in the league. Mercyhurst has to play at Army, Air Force, and RIT and hosts league leader Sacred Heart.


Bragging rights are at stake as RIT visits Sacred Heart for a weekend set on Jan. 12-13. Atlantic Hockey rookie RIT is ineligible for the postseason but the Tigers can still affect the league standings. Holy Cross plays a home-and-home with Sacred Heart on Feb. 16-17.


Army and Holy Cross headed into the season with practically no experience in the nets, and each found capable replacements. Army's Josh Kassel won the battle with A.J. Drago, and the sophomore ranks in the top 30 nationally in goals against average (2.58, 29th) and save percentage (.907, 29th). Ian Dams has won the job for Holy Cross, posting a 3.11 goals-against average (49th nationally) and .888 save percentage (52nd nationally).


Can Sacred Heart carry over its momentum from a strong first half of the season into the rest of the campaign? All indications are a go with the Pioneers posting points in 11 of 13 contests thus far. Sacred Heart has nine home games remaining (the Pioneers are 4-0-1 at the Milford Ice Pavilion) and has just one weekend road set remaining.

INCH's First Half All-Atlantic Hockey Team
Player Of Note
Louis Menard, RIT Just a freshman, Menard leads the league in goals-against average (2.41), ranks third in save percentage (.920), and is tops in winning percentage (.714, 5-2 record).
Tim Manthey, Army The sophomore has picked up where he left off last season, posting three goals and 12 assists, one marker shy of a point-per-game average. Manthey has a point in 10 of 16 games. Eleven of his assists have come on the power play. Furthermore, Army's defense has improved greatly over last season.
Jon Landry, Holy Cross Landry has benefited from Holy Cross' strong power play, netting
seven goals on the man advantage. The senior has posted eight goals and 11 assists.
Eric Ehn, Air Force The junior has scored 16 goals and set up 20 tallies to become the
nation's top point producer. Consistency is his mark with points in 16 of 20 contests.

Pierre-Luc O'Brien, Sacred Heart

The senior made up for a slow start with 12 goals and 15 assists. He
owns a plus-nine rating. He has points in eight of his last nine games and goals in seven of those contests.
James Sixsmith, Holy Cross The senior is making a name for himself with six goals and 21 assists. He has become the Crusaders' all-time assists leader at the Division I level.