January 11, 2012

Atlantic Hockey Journal: Region's teams on an upswing

By Allen Lessels

Holy Cross, Bentley and UConn -- three of the five New England entrants in Atlantic Hockey -- did a little moving and shaking in the league race to kick off the new year last weekend. All three took on teams above them in the standings and had success. 

Holy Cross junior forward Rob Linsmayer (photo: Peter Cooke)

Holy Cross junior forward Rob Linsmayer (photo: Peter Cooke)

UConn swept Niagara and jumped over the Purple Eagles in the standings. Bentley took three points against Robert Morris and closed ground on the Colonials.

Holy Cross perhaps made the most noise of all, collecting three points against Air Force, opening the door for Mercyhurst to move into first place.

“We got what we deserved tonight and this weekend,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore told reporters after a 4-3 loss on Saturday at Holy Cross followed a 3-3 tie on Friday. “We got beat by a harder working, more focused and more determined team tonight. … Unless our attitude changes in a hurry, we’re going nowhere.”

Holy Cross, Bentley and UConn are all tied for fifth place in the league, a point out of fourth, two points out of third and three out of second.

All look to keep moving up this weekend.

Holy Cross and Bentley both again take on teams ahead of them in the standings. The Crusaders are at Robert Morris and Bentley is at Air Force.

UConn will look ahead, too, and will also be keeping an eye out behind. The Huskies are at Canisius, which sits just a point behind the Huskies, Bentley and Holy Cross.

UConn has won three straight league games, its best stretch of the season.

Sophomore Cole Schneider got the weekend off to a fine start with his second career hat trick in a 4-2 win over Niagara on Friday night. Both of those hat tricks have come against Niagara.

“We need Cole if we are going to go anywhere,” said UConn coach Bruce Marshall. “Maybe he was snakebitten at the start of the year, but scoring goals will boost the confidence right away.”

Schneider leads the Huskies with a 9-13-22 scoring line and classmate Brant Harris is right behind at 13-7-20.

Schneider’s first two goals on Friday came on UConn’s potent power play; the third was into an empty net to ice the game.

The Huskies were 2-for-4 with the man advantage on Friday and 1-for-7 in Saturday, and are among the league and national power play leaders at 27.6 percent overall and 30.2 in Atlantic Hockey play.

“The power play is clicking on all cylinders right now,” Schneider said. “We want to get pucks to the net and they’re just finding their way in.”

Games of the Week

Holy Cross at Robert Morris, Friday and Saturday

Holy Cross picked up three points at home against league-leading Air Force last weekend with a 3-3 tie and 4-3 win, and now takes aim at another of the league’s best.

Robert Morris goes into the weekend in third place in Atlantic Hockey behind new leader Mercyhurst and Air Force. After RIT in fourth, Holy Cross sits in a three-way tie for fifth with Bentley and UConn.

Atlantic Hockey power ranking

1. Mercyhurst (12-8-2, 9-2-2 AHA). . . . Lakers test four-game win streak with six straight on road.

2. Air Force (10-6-3, 8-3-2). . . . Kyle De Laurell scored two in a 3-3 tie at Holy Cross.

3. RIT (10-8-2, 7-4-2). . . . Swept at Wisconsin, the Tigers head to Sacred Heart.

4. Robert Morris (9-8-3, 7-3-3). . . . Cody Wydo’s goal with two seconds left salvages a 2-2 tie at Bentley.

5. Holy Cross (9-9-1, 7-4-1). . . . Crusaders got three points against Air Force and are 4-0-1 in their last five league games.

6. UConn (8-10-2, 7-6-1). . . . Garrett Bartus made 38 saves in a 2-0 win Saturday for his third shutout of the season.

7. Bentley (6-9-4, 6-3-3). . . . 2-0-2 in last four league games, Bentley heads to Air Force.

8. Canisius (6-11-3, 6-5-2). . . . Sweep at Army snapped six-game losing streak; six straight at home ahead.

9. Niagara (5-8-7, 4-4-5). . . . After sweep at UConn, Eagles will try to get back on track at home against Army.

10. AIC (3-15-2, 2-9-2). . . . Ben Meisner stopped 34 shots in 3-1 loss to RPI on Tuesday night.

11. Army (2-11-6, 1-9-4). . . . Black Knights went 1-for-1 on power play in 4-2 loss, then 0-for-8 in 2-1 setback, both vs. Canisius.

12. Sacred Heart (1-18-1, 0-12-1). . . . Pioneers have scored one goal in each of last four games.

Allen Lessels can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.