Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
As men’s college hockey gets into the heart of its postseason this week and next, we’d like to give you some reasons to pay attention to the postseason of Atlantic Hockey. This is the only conference guaranteed to send only its tournament champion to the postseason. This is also the conference that arguably has had to do more with less than any of the other five. Two of its teams, Army West Point and the Air Force Academy do not get to take advantage of the transfer portal like the other teams do in this sport. Here are a few more reasons to watch the tournament.
This conference, as AIC Head Coach Eric Lang says “ has no bottom feeders.” His team lost to the Bentley group they will be facing next week in overtime, after winning in a five to nothing shutout the night before. That is but one example of the parity in this conference. Every team in Atlantic Hockey has some trait that makes them a tough out, and every team is more than their record. Whoever runs the gauntlet of this postseason will be well-positioned to face one of the legacy programs of this sport, which to this conference should not phase them.
This league and how tough each team is to break down only serves to benefit its postseason champion in the NCAA Tournament.
An insider perspective
AIC’s Broadcaster and Coordinator of Athletic Communications Seth Dussault offered his nuanced perspective on what the postseason of Atlantic Hockey has to offer.
Seth said “ First thing is, it’s playoff hockey. There’s no other sport that elevates the quality of play as much as ice hockey does. That alone makes it worthwhile.
Then for me, I’ve always enjoyed the brand of hockey the AHA plays in terms of aggressiveness. I don’t necessarily mean physically, although it certainly can be, but I mean that the teams really play attacking hockey. It’s fun and free flowing, even among the quote-unquote more structured teams.
Finally, this year especially, you have some great rivalries in the quarterfinals. Sacred Heart against RIT is the least “rivalry” driven series but they always seem to have hard fought games when they meet. Canisius and Mercyhurst are a bit over an hour apart and that one will be intense. Bentley and AIC are longstanding rivals who are finally going to get to meet in the playoffs after it was cancelled each of the last two years by COVID. And of course, there’s the only service academy rivalry in college hockey in the AHA with Air Force visiting Army. It’s going to be intense and incredible and of course, one team will come out of it battle-sharpened for the NCAAs.”
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