It never ceases to amaze me how a weekend of hockey can provide thrills, spills, and spine-tingling chills – and prove absolutely nothing.
The two best teams in Atlantic Hockey went toe-to-toe this weekend with Robert Morris and Holy Cross facing off at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. On Friday night, a track meet of a game featuring 64 shots and 11 penalties for 22 minutes produced a 5-4 result in favor of the Colonials.
Tied 3-3 after the second period, Brandon Denham scored to put RMU up 4-3 at the 7:45 mark, his 15th goal of the season. That lasted until Timmy Moore, who had the primary assist on the Denham goal, was called for boarding at 15:16. With three seconds left on the power play, TJ Moore tied the game.
But David Friedmann scored with 39.6 seconds left in the game to lift the Colonials.
That’s a great game. So what did they do for an encore? A 5-2 Holy Cross win featured 77 shots, 15 penalties for 30 minutes, two more power play goals. The Crusaders never trailed, opening up a 2-0 lead in the first period.
But RMU never went away. Holy Cross led 2-0, and Robert Morris made it 2-1. Holy Cross took a 3-1 lead in the second period, and the next goal was on a Colonial stick. Holy Cross finally took a 4-2 lead, and it took an empty net goal to salt the game away with about 1:45 left on the clock.
The top two teams in Atlantic Hockey played each other this weekend. Robert Morris entered the weekend with a two point lead. They exited the weekend with a two point lead. A weekend split solved absolutely nothing. But boy did it entertain.
We entered the weekend with one team (RIT) in third place, three teams (Air Force, Sacred Heart, and Mercyhurst) tied for fourth one point behind them, and two teams (Bentley and Canisius) tied for seventh two points behind that group. We exit the weekend with a little bit of breathing room and a little bit clearer of a picture into next week.
Air Force used a three-point weekend at Army West Point to take sole possession of fourth after Sacred Heart and Mercyhurst split their series. And Canisius moved in front of Bentley by three points after the Golden Griffins edged rival Niagara with a win and tie of their own.
RIT’s sweep of Bentley allowed the Tigers to pull into the rearview mirror of the Crusaders and Colonials by virtue of the split at Holy Cross. Meanwhile, the Falcons fell into eighth place after coming up empty at home.
It never ceases to amaze me in this league how one point on one weekend can and will make a difference down the stretch.
Lost In The Shuffle? I don’t think so.
This weekend was a perfect storm of storylines.
Robert Morris-Holy Cross? Best two teams in the league.
Air Force-Army West Point? The only two games between the only two service academies with Division I hockey.
RIT-Bentley? Teams with a relatively even history, especially of late, creating a nice rivalry. Of course if you read us, it’s also a chance to have Chris Lerch and me go head-to-head.
Niagara-Canisius? Battle of the Bridge.
Sacred Heart-Mercyhurst? Two teams tied for fourth place battling a weekend of great hockey down in Connecticut.
This was the perfect weekend for Atlantic Hockey fans, an enjoyable weekend of hard-fought games. People always want to talk about Atlantic Hockey as a mid-major type of league, but that’s not the case at all. This was an ultra-competitive weekend of games, full of emotion. When it was over, in many ways, we had some answers to questions about what’s next. In many other ways, though, we’re just getting warmed up.