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Inter-pod play is now over for the season in Atlantic Hockey, as the East and West scheduling “Pods” will play only in-region games for the rest of the regular season.

The West held a 41-18-13 advantage over the East, so it’s not a surprise that the top six teams in the standings are all from the Western pod. On Thursday, we’ll break down what that means with the new AHA playoff system. It’s turning out the way the AHA coaches it would based on the preseason poll, and it’s imbalance is the worst-case scenario for the league.

But for now, looking ahead, all six East pods teams will play two games each weekend for the next five weeks to wrap up the season, as will Niagara, Air Force and Canisius. Robert Morris will get one night off and Rochester Institute of Technology  two as the rest of the teams use their games in hand in an attempt to catch the first-place Tigers.

Besides RIT, Niagara controls it own destiny. Win out and the Purple Eagles are regular season champs. They trail RIT by four points with two games in hand and play the Tigers twice to close out the regular season.

Quote of the Week

“I can look into the mirror and think I see Tom Cruise. But it’s just Frank looking back and Frank needs some work.”

-Air Force coach Frank Serratore to the Colorado Springs Gazette on his team’s complacency after a loss to Army.

USCHO.com AHA Player of the Week:

Paul Zanette, Niagara – The Paul Zanette/Bryan Haczyk show continues as a member of this line wins POTW for the fifth time this season. Zanette had three goals and three assists to help the Purple Eagles to a sweep of Sacred Heart.

Honorables:

Ryan Leets, Army – The sophomore goaltender made a career-best 43 saves to lead the Black Knights to a 3-1 win over Robert Morris. He stopped 30 of 32 shots the next night in a 2-2 tie.

Shane Madolora, RIT – Another sophomore goalie, Madolora stopped 59 of 62 shots to help the Tigers to a 4-0, 3-3 weekend at Holy Cross. Madolora improved to 11-0-4 on the season.

Mike Hull, Army – Hull had his second consecutive four point weekend, tallying two goals and two assists against Robert Morris.

Ben Lynch, RIT – Lynch was the highest scoring rookie in the league last weekend, scoring two goals and adding two assist as the Tigers took three points from Holy Cross.

Cory Conacher, Canisius – The senior had four goals in a sweep of Canisius over American International. He now has 53 goals in his career, best all-time in the Divsiion I era at Canisius.

Bryan Haczyk, Niagara – Haczyk had “only” three goals last weekend, a drop-off in production for the senior, who was averaging two goals a game over his last five contests.

Man Up

Niagara recently celebrated the life of fan Meghan Redenbach, who died from a rare form of ovarian cancer on Dec. 24. The Purple Eagles have been inspired by Meghan thoughout the season and honored her by retiring the Number Six last Friday night.

The Buffalo News did a nice story on what Meghan meant to the team, and you can also see a video produced by NU here.

Getting My Vote

My USCHO.com Men’s D-I Poll ballot this week:
1. Yale
2. Boston College
3. North Dakota
4. Denver
5. Duluth
6. Michigan
7. Notre Dame
8. Wisconsin
9. New Hampshire
10. RPI
11. Miami
12. Maine
13. Union
14. Merrimack
15. UNO
16. BU
17. Western Michigan
18. Dartmouth
19. Colorado College
20. Niagara