2006-07 Atlantic Hockey Mid-Season Report
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.
WHAT HAPPENED TO ...
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
BEST NEW FACE
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
TOUGHEST ROAD OUT
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.
TOUGHEST ROAD IN
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.
BIGGEST QUESTIONS ANSWERED
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).
BIGGEST QUESTION REMAINING
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.
First Half All-Atlantic Hockey Team
|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
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
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.
owns a plus-nine rating. He has points in eight
of his last nine games and goals in seven of those
||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.