"Until we can’t play any more games,
I think we have a shot," said coach Paul Pearl.
Holy Cross has dropped to fifth place and
finds itself in the unusual position of playing a road game
in the quarterfinals, a matchup with fourth-seeded Air Force
"It’s a new feel," Pearl said.
It is Holy Cross’ first road playoff
contest since a March 2000 game at Mercyhurst — the
Crusaders are 3-2 in neutral-site games since then.
Despite the loss of defenseman Jon Landry
to a broken ankle four weeks ago, the Crusaders have cause
for optimism. Holy Cross tied both meetings with Air Force
this season, and owns a 7-1 record in the Atlantic Hockey
playoffs the past three seasons.
"We have a large amount of kids that
have a lot of playoff success, and not just last year,"
Pearl said. “Our seniors have won two league championships
and went to the semifinals the other year. Our guys have
certainly played in this situation, and we are looking forward
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Wrapping up a title: Rochester
Institute of Technology would have preferred winning the
Atlantic Hockey title on its home sheet, but the Tigers
needed one extra weekend to clinch the crown. Jocelyn Guimond
pitched his second shutout of the season, and Tristan Fairbarn,
Stephen Burns and Anthon Kharin provided the tallies as
RIT downed Bentley, 3-0, last Friday night.
“It's great," sophomore Steve Pinizzotto
told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “It's
good for our program."
“We made steady progress all year long,"
RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “I'm very proud of our
Bentley showed a lot of class by allowing
the Tigers to celebrate freely in their home rink.
Air Force winger Andrew Ramsey and Sacred Heart goalie Jason
Smith have been selected to play for the East Team in the
Frozen Four Skills Challenge on April 6 as part of the weekend
Ramsey has 20 goals and 24 assists, ranking
second on the Falcons in scoring. With Eric Ehn (60 points),
the Falcon duo is the first to each top 40 points since
1993-94, and the 100 combined points is the most since Mark
Manney (53) and Tom Richards (48) had 101 in 1981-82.
Smith, a New Jersey Devils draft pick, is
15-8-3 with a 2.82 goals against and .906 save percentage.
For his career, Smith is 37-28-4 with a 2.75 GAA and .912
The competitions will be a puck control relay,
the hardest shot, rapid fire shooting, accuracy shooting,
the fastest skater and penalty shot.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
No. 9 American
International at No. 8 Canisius
AIC: 7-20-1 (7-24-1 overall) Canisius: 9-16-3 (9-22-3 overall) Season series: Tied, 1-1 Yellow Jacket fact: AIC has picked
up momentum in the second half, posting a 5-8-1 mark
since Jan. 12. The Jackets own just one playoff win,
that coming three years ago Golden Griffins fact: Of Canisius's
nine wins this season, six of them have come at home. How AIC wins: The Yellow Jackets
tend to play better in the playoffs, and have proven
they can win in Buffalo. AIC has to play disciplined
defense and excel in the special teams. Putting pressure
on Canisius freshman netminder Andrew Loewen is a
must. How Canisius wins: The Griffs’
blue line needs to continue to get involved in the
offense. Canisius must stay out of the penalty box.
The Griffs sport one of the youngest lineups in the
league, but that may work to their favor since they
don’t carry the baggage of consecutive losses
in playoff openers.
Hail to the Tigers. Rochester
Institute of Technology won the Atlantic
Hockey title in its inaugural season. Even more impressive
was RIT’s improvement from 6-22-2 in its first
season of Division I play to 21-11-2 in its sophomore
needs to shift its championship weekend to a Saturday-Sunday
format — more fans would be able to
attend weekend action, and maybe ESPN would consider
airing the final on one of its networks. Selection
committees in every sport are accustomed to making
last-minute changes based on Sunday games, and the
NCAA hockey selection show could certainly be moved
to late afternoon
• Saving the best for last: Since RIT
wrapped up the league title Friday, coach Wayne Wilson turned
to freshman netminder Jared DeMichiel in Saturday’s
finale. DeMichiel gave up four goals over the first two
periods but was in a position to win when RIT opened the
third period with three goals for a 5-4 lead. Undaunted,
Bentley produced three goals from Paul Scalici, Pat Percella
and Dain Prewitt in the last half of the period for a 7-5
lead. Brad Harris scored with 66 seconds left but that’s
as close as RIT would get as Bentley prevailed, 7-6, to
escape the play-in game.
• One, followed by two: Army’s
only chance at securing the top playoff seed was beating
Sacred Heart twice on the final weekend. The Pioneers did
away with that notion, scoring three third-period goals
and handing Army only its second home loss of the season,
5-3, on Friday. Alexandre Parent tallied twice in the rally,
including an empty netter with 32 seconds left. Army gained
a measure of revenge the next night, posting its first win
in Milford since 1999, a 4-2 decision. Goal-leader Luke
Flicek broke the 2-2 tie late in the second period and added
his 14th of the season early in the third. The Black Knights
had lost 10 in a row in Milford before posting a 3-3 tie
on Nov. 21.
• All-out effort: Canisius needed a
victory to escape the play-in game but managed just a 2-2
draw with Mercyhurst in its finale. Kyle Bushee scored the
game-tying goal with 27 seconds remaining after Canisius
pulled goaltender Andrew Loewen. Coach Dave Smith pulled
Loewen again with 40 seconds left in overtime but the Griffs
could not produce the game-winner.
• Flying high: Air Force produced 11
goals in its season-ending sweep of host American International.
Andrew Ramsey, Eric Ehn and Jeff Hajner accounted for eight
points in a 6-2 win on Friday. Ehn scored his 23rd and 24th
goals in Saturday’s 5-1 victory. Air Force is now
12-0 all-time against AIC. The Friday win clinched a home
playoff spot for Air Force, which will host Holy Cross next
weekend. The 16 Division I wins by Air Force is a school
• Seeing double: Army has drawn Bentley
in the quarterfinals again. The same clubs met last year
with Bentley posting a 4-3 victory in double overtime. Dain
Prewitt netted a short-handed goal with 1:22 left in regulation,
and Brett Murphy tallied at 34:30 of extra time. Army claimed
the season series, 3-1, including a home sweep on Feb. 16-17.
• It’s been a while: Mercyhurst
and Connecticut have not met since Oct. 27-28 when the teams
split in Erie. The clubs have met three times in the playoffs,
with Mercyhurst winning the last two meetings in 2002 and
• All tied up in knots: Air Force and
Holy Cross battled to a pair of 2-2 draws on Jan. 12-13
in Worcester. The playoff meeting will be Holy Cross’
first visit to Colorado Springs since Feb. 13-14, 2004,
when the clubs split a pair of non-league games.
• MAAC/AHA playoff history: American
International is 1-3, its lone win a play-in victory over
Army in 2004 … Army is 1-6, its lone win a play-in
victory over AIC in 2005. … Bentley is 4-5. The Falcons
were a finalist last year and have lost twice in the semifinals.
Bentley beat Army last season in their only playoff meeting
… Connecticut is 6-6. The Huskies won the 2000 championship
and reached the semifinals three other times … Canisius
is 4-8. The Golden Griffins were the 1999 finalist and reached
the semifinals two other times. Canisius has lost is last
two playoff openers, and is 1-0 in playoff action with AIC
… Holy Cross is 11-4, and the 2004 and 2006 playoff
champs. The Crusaders have won their playoff opener four
years in a row, and have lost in the semifinals twice …
Mercyhurst is 14-4, having claimed the title in 2001, 2003
and 2005. The Lakers have never lost a playoff opener, and
have bowed in the semifinals three times and in the finals
once … Sacred Heart is 3-7. The Pioneers have lost
their opener five times, including the last two years. Sacred
Heart was a finalist in 2004 and a semifinal loser in 2002.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached