AIC in Atlantic Hockey: At the holiday break second is in the Cards: Read more

Photo credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

AIC hockey is a collection, arguably the biggest collection at the division one level, of players every year who don’t come together because they are high NHL draft picks looking to show their teams one or two years against the best of the best. They are players that come for an opportunity to be a part of a growing dynasty and building a legacy for the overlooked, underappreciated, and underutilized players. Head Coach Eric Lang is a New York Yankees fan, but AIC is one of the best at building rosters from players no one else would have looked at, akin to how the Moneyball Oakland Athletics were built. Unlike those Athletics, Lang’s group has far more to show for those efforts. This year, the switch was not turned on immediately, and the team has dealt with some growing pains. Two of their best players from last year, Jake Stella and Zak Galambos, are big parts of their new teams ( UMASS Lowell and Western Michigan) battling for tournament places. Others like Chris Theodore are putting their legacy stamp on a young program like Union. For AIC they roll into the break in the second position in Atlantic Hockey, needing teams like RIT and Sacred Heart around them to drop points to have a chance at another regular season title.

For Lang’s group, they earned four of six points against Niagara this weekend in large part because of two players. Nick Cardelli had two goals in the series finale and has grown into a leader on this team quickly. It takes strength to go without hockey for as long as he had due to injury and to finish a degree without having hockey at Bemidji State to go back to last year. He was preparing to play at AIC and lead and he has in large measure. Lang said of Nick “ Cards is really coming into his own right now. He was without hockey for awhile so it took some game play to get going. He’s been a huge standout for us and really impacting the game with his skating ability. He could be one of the fastest guys in all of college hockey.”

As for goaltending, Jarrett Fiske has gotten better as the season has worn on. Remember he is in a goalie room with three transfers from across the college hockey landscape. He is the only goalie from last year’s group left on the roster. He has continued to improve reading plays and doing a lot more for Lang’s team. As Lang said of Cheese (Fiske’s nickname) “Cheese has been big for us. He’s solidifying a position that we had some questions about. He’s over 920 for save percentage for the season. He has been a huge calming presence for us.”

Heading into the holiday break, Lang is happy with his group , saying “We are really playing some good hockey smart managing the game. Playing with a competitive combative nature. Our leadership has been fantastic. It will make for a nice Christmas break.”

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