American International became the first program in Atlantic Hockey history to win four consecutive regular-season championships, clinching the crown and subsequent top seed with Friday’s 5-1 win at Mercyhurst in the first of a split two-game set.
The Yellow Jackets were just 3-10-1 entering the 2022 calendar year, but they had put together a non-conference gauntlet to prepare them for conference play and their goals of making four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
Senior Elijah Barriga’s second career hat trick against the Lakers and the team’s second of the season lifted AIC to the win, its 16th of the season in conference play. Barriga scored three of four unanswered goals to break a 1-1 tie after one period and win the game; Minnesota State transfer Chris Van Os-Shaw had the other.
“I never ever want to take for granted how hard this journey is,” AIC coach Eric Lang said. “We have guys in this locker room that winning trumps everything. That's all they care about. All individuality is on the back burner. It's all about us and we. It's the most precious thing in sports (to) set a goal and go out and accomplish it.”