A Preview of the Atlantic Hockey Association Championship Weekend

AIC, Mercyhurst, RIT, and Air Force will vie for the Atlantic Hockey Association Championship on Friday and Saturday at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, NY.

It’s down to the final four teams for the Atlantic Hockey Association Championship. The winner will skate away with the Jack Riley Trophy as the conference postseason champion and an automatic bid into the NCAA Division I Tournament.

The two semifinals games will take place on Friday, March 18th. At 4:05 pm the number one seed AIC Yellowjackets (20-12-3 overall, 17-7-2 AHA) will take on the number seven seed Mercyhurst Lakers (16-18-4 overall, 10-12-4 AHA). AIC is a powerhouse in the Atlantic Hockey Association, having won the last two conference championships. The top seven scorers are separated by six points and are as follows:

  • Justin Young: 11 goals, 18 assists = 29 points
  • Chris Theodore: 10 goals, 18 assists = 28 points
  • Blake Bennett: 14 goals, 12 assists = 26 points
  • Jake Stella: 11 goals, 15 assists = 26 points
  • Chris Dodero: 11 goals, 14 assists = 25 points
  • Zak Galambos: 3 goals, 21 assists = 24 points
  • Brian Rigall: 12 goals, 11 assists = 23 points

Jake Kucharski is the starter in goal for the Yellowjackets. He has a record of 12-7-3-2 with a GAA of 2.38 and a save percentage of 0.910. He is backed up by Alec Calvaruso, whose record is 8-4-0-1 with a 2.41 GAA and 0.913 save percentage. Ryan McInchak and Jarrett Fiske have also played one game each in the AIC crease. The AIC Yellowjackets are coached by Eric Lang and are located in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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The Mercyhurst Lakers enter Friday’s game against AIC as a big underdog. On offense, their top five scorers are separated by seven points and are as follows:

  • Carson Briere: 13 goals, 14 assists = 27 points
  • Austin Heidemann: 11 goals, 16 assists = 27 points
  • Dante Sheriff: 7 goals, 18 assists = 25 points
  • Rylee St. Onge: 13 goals, 8 assists = 21 points
  • Jonathon Bendorf: 6 goals, 14 assists = 20 points

Kyle McClellan is the Laker’s starting goaltender and has a record of 12-12-2-3 to go with a GAA 2.50 and a 0.895 save percentage. Backing up McClellan is Hank Johnson, whose record this season is 4-6-2-0 with a GAA of 4.37 and 0.872 save percentage. Matt Lenz has also appeared in one game in goal. Mercyhurst is located in Erie, Pennsylvania, and is coached by Rick Gotkin.

The Utica Pioneers by the Numbers as They Head Into the NCAA’s

RIT vs Air Force

After AIC and Mercyhurst play, the fourth-seeded RIT Tigers (18-15-4 overall, 12-10-4 AHA) will take the ice against the sixth-seeded Air Force Falcons (15-16-3 overall, 11-12-3 AHA). On offense, RIT is led by:

  • Carter Wilke: 13 goals, 15 assists = 28 points
  • Will Calverley: 15 goals, 11 assists = 26 points
  • Jake Hamacher: 9 goals, 12 assists = 21 points
  • Kobe Walker: 11 goals, 8 assists = 19 points

Kolby Matthews and Tommy Scarfone have split the goaltending duties for the Tigers this season. Matthews has a record of 10-6-3-0 with a GAA of 3.47 with a 0.888 save percentage. Scarfone is 8-8-1-2 on the season with a 2.28 GAA and 0.922 save percentage. Ian Andriano has also appeared in three games in goal for the Tigers. RIT is located in Rochester, NY, and is coached by Wayne Wilson.

The Air Force Falcons have the furthest distance to travel, as they coming to Utica from the Air Force Academy in Colorado. They are led on offense by:

  • Will Gavin: 15 goals, 12 assists = 27 points
  • Willie Reim: 11 goals, 14 assists = 25 points
  • Brandon Koch: 1 goal, 22 assists = 23 points
  • Nate Horn: 11 goals, 11 assists = 22 points
  • Clayton Cosentino: 7 goals, 15 assists = 22 points

Alex Schilling is the starter in goal for the Falcons. He has a record of 13-15-3-1 with a 3.40 GAA and 0.882 save percentage. The only other goaltender to start a game for Air Force this season is Guy Blessing, whose record is 2-1-0-0 with a 3.11 GAA and 0.888 save percentage. Austin Park and Maiszon Balboa have also made appearances in the Falcons crease this season.

Air Force is coached by Frank Serratore

In this episode, the co-host of the Calder Farmstead an AHL Podcast Sean O’Brien joins the show! The Calder Farmstead is a podcast that covers everything AHL, we’ll chat about the Utica Comets, their strengths and weaknesses, the NHL North, favorites to come out of the Eastern and Western Conferences, Sean’s AHL analytical work, and much more! Subscribe to both Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast and The Calder Farmstead an AHL Podcast on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms!

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