Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
Here is our ballot for Atlantic Hockey’s order of finish this season. The conference is entering its twentieth year of play and we also wanted to give some thoughts on each team. We want all fans of this conference to follow us this year and eagerly await being shown some parts of this ballot that will be wrong at season’s end.
To us our Atlantic Hockey Ballot right now would be as follows. Given that this conference is the most parity driven league, we could see a lot of different things happen.
- AIC-Until someone beats them, they are the hunted team in the middle of a dynasty. Their challenge as it is every year is having their large newcomer group figuring out how to get everyone to mesh. Look for more chances for sophomore defender Alex Tertyshny. The cerebral defender has the upside of becoming a player by graduation of what Brett Callahan does for Eric Lang’s group now.
- Army West Point-Honestly anyone from 2-6 is interchangeable. We will give the edge to Army West Point because of the skill they have coming in and returning. Gavin Abric is set to have another superb season. Anthony Firriolo returns as arguabaly the best two way defender in the conference( him and Brett Callahan will battle for that title.) If plebes like Lucas Kanta and Max Itagaki start strong, the Black Knights can challenge AIC for the title.
- Canisius- The Golden Griffins, like AIC, have a large influx of players coming in. They also have one of the most potent penalty killers returning in Keaton Mastrodonato. Trevor Large has his teams playing an annoying brand of hockey every year “Griff Hockey” it is called. They also have another goaltender who can win a lot of games this year for them. Jacob Barczewski is an all around goaltender that reminds us of what Lake Superior State alum Mareks Mitens brought to the net. Large’s group will be in every game they play this season.
- Air Force- This year, Head Coach Frank Serratore cannot use the “we were picked ninth” mantra any more. The Falcons got the the Atlantic Hockey Championship game with timely scoring and superb systems. This year,every key player on the roster not named Alex Schilling returns for the Falcons, plus they welcome some newcomers as well. If Frank finds a solid number one goalie from his options, either returning or new, then this ranking could be an under estimate of where the Falcons will finish.
- Sacred Heart- The veteran team of CJ Marrotolo also can play a scrappy game. They will get an infusion of scoring help in their recruiting class stocked with transfers and new players. One standout to keep an eye on for this group is Chikara Hanazawa. The NCDC alum , plus the returners that this group has make them not an easy out.
- Niagara-Jason Lammers has a large transfer group coming in headlined by Lucas Bahn, and Casey Carreau. Both players bring elements to this Purple Eagle group that Jason Lammers wanted to add. Bahns smooth skating skill will give some more offense to a defensive unit that’s known for checking and less so for providing scoring. Carreau has the chance to lead the Purple Eagles up front in scoring.
- Mercyhurst -Rick Gotkin has a lot of questions on his team coming into the season. He also has a strong leadership group of veterans and transfers to lead the way. Vermont transfer Tyler Harmon should make things possible if he can lead the way in net. Veterans like Cade Townend on the blue line will also provide a stabilizing presence going forward
- Bentley- This team was on the upswing in the first half of last season then ran into some trouble down the stretch. They have a lot of talent coming into their group that should thrive playing for Ryan Soderquist. When he has big ice time, former Alabama Huntsville and Umass-Lowell transfer Josh Latta plays an offensive game that should translate to this conference.
- RIT-The biggest reason this prediction will be wrong is goaltender Tommy Scarfone. He will have to lead early on to give the large group of freshmen that Wayne Wilson had brought into the fold time to replace program legends like Will Calverly and Dan Willett. Scarfone has the talent to do it, and plays in front of arguably the best student section in Atlantic Hockey. If the Tigers can get hot early anything’s possible.
- Holy Cross-Bill Riga is building a team and a group that can excel. They come into this season as the underdogs in the conference with everything to prove. Quinnipiac transfer Liam McLinskey is the biggest standout of the transfer class and will help grow the culture of the program with Riga, as he did when Riga was an assistant at Quinnipiac.
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