Photo Credit-Kelsey Lee: Violet Turtle Photography
For AIC, their 6-3 sweep of Mercyhurst again featured quality up and down the lineup. Head Coach Eric Lang was positive about his team and singled out two players. He said of Austen Long “ Long is the heartbeat of our hockey program. I have the utmost belief and respect for him.” Of his linemate, Darwin Lakoduk , and Long again Lang added “ Darwin keeps getting better and better. Quite honestly I could probably play with Austen Long right now. 44 is everything that’s right about our program. Our backcheck continues to be the best part of our program. It’s hard to play against. Longs backcheck late in the 3rd period was inspiring.” The strength of this group is in its depth. Lang doesn’t look to label his fourth line on paper as a “fourth line” and with that tries to deploy players closer .
As for Mercyhurst, Head Coach Rick Gotkin was clear in takeaways from the series.
He said “We like to think we can and are learning to get better every day and this weekend was no different. I guess the big take away is you battle back from 4-1 and get it to 4-3 with 7:30 left in the third period and you are starting to really get going. Then you take a very bad penalty and it seals your fate.
I thought we showed once agin that we are never out of a game, and I really liked our effort and determination.”
For AIC, they now get ready to face a veteran laden Sacred Heart team fighting for a first round bye. The Pioneers do not have as much skill as the Lakers but right now have a more well rounded team. AIC has to keep this play going on their eight game winning streak up to have a chance. This AIC team is one of the deepest that Eric Lang has had, and they will have to be at their best to face a Sacred Heart team with a similar level of experience. That back check has to continue for Lang’s group to have a chance of earning six points against Sacred Heart.
For Mercyhurst, they head home to face an Air Force Group that had AIC on their heels two weeks ago before earning a sweep at home over Niagara. If the Lakers can strike first against a punchy but inexperienced Falcons team and get them out of sorts, then they could work towards six needed conference points at home.