Three thinks I learned from the first round of the Atlantic Hockey tournament:
– The higher seeds held serve. It was a struggle in most cases, but Holy Cross, Bentley (in three games), Robert Morris (in three games) and Connecticut all advanced. Robert Morris and UConn needed overtime to win one of their games.
– There were some wild finishes. UConn dodged a bullet on Friday when Canisus missed on a penalty shot attempt in overtime. The Huskies had dislodged the net on a Golden Griffins’ scoring attempt, but Tyler Wiseman, who had scored earlier in the game, was denied by Huskie goaltender Garrett Bartus. Minutes later, Alex Gerke won it for UConn.
Sunday night at Robert Morris, the Colonials were up 3-0 on American International with 15 minutes to play in the third and deciding game before AIC’s Neilsson Arcibal scored three straight goals, including one with 11 seconds left in regulation, to send the game to overtime. But the golden goal went to RMU’s Brandon Blandina just 2:36 into the extra period.
“The range of emotions we went through in the last 16 minutes of the third was just unbelievable,” said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley. “As coaches, we had to pick ourselves up after that third period in order to go in and pick the players up.”
– Things tighten up for the next round. Seven of the eight teams left were within striking distance of the regular season title with two weeks left in the regular season. Just five points separated No. 1 Air Force and No. 7 Robert Morris in the final standings.
Here’s the difference in regular season points between the quarterfinal teams:
No. 8 UConn at No.1 Air Force: 9 points
No. 7 Robert Morris at No. 2 Niagara: 4 points
No. 6 Bentley at No. 3 Rochester Institute of Technology: 1 point
No. 5 Holy Cross at No. 4 Mercyhurst: 0 points
In other words, don’t make any plans for Sunday.
Getting my vote
Here’s my ballot for Monday’s USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll
1. Boston College
3. Ferris State
4. Boston University
13. North Dakota
15. Michigan State
16. Western Michigan
17. Notre Dame
18. Colorado College
19. Northern Michigan
20. Air Force