In a few hours, the semifinals for the Atlantic Hockey Conference Tournament will commence. AIC takes on Mercyhurst, and Air Force battles RIT in the night game. Here’s some things to watch in each battle today.
AIC vs. Mercyhurst
This game is a battle of top-end speed and hot goaltending brought by the Lakers against veteran leadership and depth brought to you by the Yellow Jackets. For this game, we will see what happens when an unstoppable force ( Mercyhurst) meets an immovable object ( AIC) in the postseason. While AIC has held the upper hand in the regular season that should not be used against the Lakers. Since they defeated AIC at home, Rick Gotkin’s group has gotten superb goaltending from Kyle McClellan and played more consistently in their end. As for AIC, they have embraced Eric Lang’s saying. Their Head Coach often says, “ the strength of the team is the team.” For AIC to play well they need to control things early and get Mercyhurst out of their rhythm. For the Lakers, they need to make AIC chase the game like North Dakota did last March in the NCAA Tournament.
A veteran team with a superb rookie goaltender ( RIT) faces a young team with a sterling senior goaltender ( Air Force). RIT at their best is a team that thrives on depth and grit. Air Force this year has had more skill and thrived in high-pressure moments. The real show in this game is the goaltending battle. For RIT, Tommy Scarfone has taken over the job in the second half and made the net his. The rookie plays a consistent game in net because his sense for shots is so good, and because RIT is a superb shot-blocking side. For Air Force, they have players upfront like Will Gavin and Willie Reim who have only shined brighter as the year has progressed. Both teams play with grit, and both will be tough to score on in the second semifinal.
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