Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
Mercyhurst Head Coach Rick Gotkin was direct when asked about playing back to back to back Atlantic Hockey Champions AIC.
He said “ This will be a great test for our team. AIC has proven the past three years that they are the best team in our conference and until someone else can win the regular season and or the playoff championship that won’t change. I am excited to see how we match up against them. We will have to play very well for sixty minutes with and without the puck, stay out of the penalty box, and take advantage of our chances.”
For Mercyhurst, the Lakers cannot get in a back and forth game with AIC or go down early on and rely on a late heroics against AIC. That would spell trouble for a very skilled Lakers team that can fly under the radar in the second half of Atlantic Hockey play.
For AIC Head Coach Eric Lang had some praise for the Lakers. “They can score any place anytime. Their transition is as good as any team we have seen this season.This is as good as any team in this league. With more than half the league schedule to go, we don’t judge any team in our league where they are. Atlantic Hockey has no bottom.”
The Yellow Jackets have to force Mercyhurst to take hustle penalties. That is ones taken on long shifts because AIC is holding the puck in their end. Also this team has to get off to the same start they did in their first game against Bentley. If they can match the skill and pace of the Lakers with their depth, that is how they will have good things happen this weekend. AIC is the veteran team this weekend, and they need to play the consistent game they have been rolling for the last six games. Lang does not care about winning streaks, but he does care about effort.
f AIC has any gaps in that effort, the Lakers will exploit them. If Lang gets his consistent games that his group has been playing recently, then AIC is more likely to dictate the path of each game than the visitors. This series will be one where speed and skill of the visitors meets depth, speed, skill, and versatility of the home team.