Three things (four, actually, but they’re small) from the weekend that was in Atlantic Hockey:
Is Saturday night all right?
There were only seven games involving Atlantic Hockey teams this past Thanksgiving weekend, including a pair of conference series that both ended in splits.
That’s been the story more often than not so far, as evidenced by the logjam in the standings.
Bentley and Army each took two points from the other, as did Canisius and Air Force. The Golden Griffins are examples of the volatility teams have seen from night to night – they are 4-1-2 so far on Fridays, but just 1-5-2 on Saturdays.
Ditto Rochester Institute of Technology, which is 3-1-2 on Fridays and 1-6 on Saturdays following a 2-0 loss at Yale last weekend. Bentley? 4-2-1 on Fridays; 2-4 on Saturdays.
On the other hand, Mercyhurst is a better team on Saturday this season, going 4-1-1 vs. just 1-3-1 on Fridays. Air Force is also better the second night of the weekend, currently 4-3-1 on Saturdays vs. 1-5-1 on Fridays.
Home cooking makes a difference
Atlantic Hockey teams are still struggling in non-conference play, currently 11-33-2 (.261). That’s a higher winning percentage than last season, however (.215). I think that’s due to AHA rinks hosting more non-conference games this season.
With the Big Ten and Hockey East having only 20 and 22 conference games, respectively, teams from those leagues can’t afford to be choosy when lining up non-conference opponents, including being more open to playing them on the road. Couple that with a tweak to the PWR formula that gives greater weight to road wins, and you have schools more willing to play in AHA barns.
So far this season, Atlantic Hockey teams have hosted 20 of the 43 non-conference games they’ve played. The results are dramatic: the league is 8-11-2 at home and just 3-20 on the road.
Getting the hang of this college hockey thing
Speaking of non-conference games, Holy Cross defeated Brown 5-0 at the Hart Center on Sunday, and freshmen led the way for the Crusaders, scoring all five goals. Rookie Ryan Ferrill had a hat-trick, scoring Holy Cross’ first three goals, and classmate TJ Moore lit the lamp twice. In all, 14 of the Crusaders’ 33 goals this season have been scored by freshmen.
But it was a senior who shined in net for Holy Cross. Matt Ginn recorded his third shutout of the season and seventh of his career, setting a new record for career shutouts in the school’s Division I era.
As the calendar turns to December, is it too soon to look at the PairWise Rankings? Perhaps, but it’s clear at this point, about a third of the way into the season, that if Atlantic Hockey hopes to get two teams into the NCAA tournament, Robert Morris is the only AHA squad with a decent shot at finishing in the top 16 in the PWR.
The Colonials are currently 25th in the very volatile PWR, despite having the third best winning percentage in the nation (.792). That’s mostly due to the Colonials’ strength of schedule so far, which is ranked 58 out of 59 Division I teams. If RMU can do well in some non-conference games coming up (Penn State, Bowling Green and either Western Michigan or Colgate), its numbers will improve.
And the Colonials need to keep winning of course. The same goes for the rest of the league. The rising tide will lift everyone’s PWR boat.