Welcome back! It’s going to be tough to replicate the tight race we witnessed last year, but with almost every AHA team improved over last season, it’s going to be entertaining for sure.

The Atlantic Hockey season preview will be published Monday, but things already get underway this weekend with Niagara and Bowling Green playing the first official game of the 2012-13 season (they’ll have a three hour jump on the other two NCAA games). I’m picking the Purple Eagles to win the league this season (read more on Monday) so I’m looking for them to start the season on the right foot with a home win over the Falcons. Niagara 3, Bowling Green 1

Niagara plays again on Tuesday at Colgate, and I’m looking for the Purple Eagles to open 2-0 with a road win. Niagara 2, Colgate 1.

In exhibition play against Canadian opponents this weekend, Holy Cross (Saturday) and Sacred Heart (Sunday)  host St. Thomas,  Wilfred Laurier is at Mercyhurst (Saturday) and Robert Morris (Sunday), Rochester Institute of Technology (Saturday) and Canisius (Sunday) host Ottawa, York University is at UConn on Saturday and Air Force will host British Columbia on Monday.

Most teams play for real beginning next weekend, including the first conference game which has Niagara (yep) hosting Mercyhurst on Oct. 13