The final weekend of the men’s hockey regular season is here, with the Tigers and Air Force essentially playing a two-game playoff for the Atlantic Hockey Regular Season Championship at a packed Ritter Arena on Friday and Saturday. Both teams are tied with identical 19-5-2 marks in AHA play, good for 40 points.
The last time these two teams met, on Dec. 5-6 at Air Force, RIT was reeling a bit, coming in with a 5-8-1 record, while Air Force was No. 10 in the nation, rolling along with a 13-1-0 mark. RIT dropped the first game of the weekend series, 2-0, despite playing a tremendous road game to drop to 5-9-1, while Air Force moved to 14-1-0. I remember that even though RIT lost, the coaching staff was fairly upbeat, knowing that the Falcons were not unbeatable. The next night, RIT led early, Air Force came back to take a 2-1 lead in the third period and had a full two-minutes of a 5-on-3 power-play. RIT held off the Falcons power-play attack and scored to tie the game with two minutes left in regulation. That set the stage for Andrew Favot’s game-winning goal in the final minute of overtime, and a jubilant trip back to Rochester.
Since Dec. 5, the Tigers have been on a nearly three-month high, going 15-1-1 over their last 17 games to roar into a tie with the Falcons for first place in the AHA standings. Air Force went into a mini-tailspin not too long after, going 1-5-1 in their next seven games. The Falcons have righted the ship as of late, however, going 7-2-1 over their last 10 games. They boast the top goal scorer in the nation, Jacques Lamoureux.
Both teams not only have identical conference records, but have each scored 119 goals in 32 games. In addition, the two power-plays are nearly identical, with RIT converting 20.9 percent and Air Force at 20.5 percent. The all-time series between the two teams is even at 9-9-2. This will be the 16th and 17th match-ups between the two schools in the last four seasons. Perhaps an 18th meeting between the two teams is in the cards as well, a little less than a month away, in downtown Rochester. Air Force is 7-6-2 over that stretch. Expect two very close games.
The tiebreaking scenarios are in place, but mean nothing until the end of play on Saturday night. If either team takes three or four of the possible four points. they win the regular season title. If the two teams split, then the tiebreakers come into play.
Get your tickets now, because I have a feeling, despite students on break, that both games will sell-out quickly.
In addition, RIT will host the 2009 NYSCTC Indoor Track and Field Championships at Gordon Field House on Friday and Saturday. RIT has several excellent athletes on both the men’s and women’s sides. If you get to the rink early, take a walk next store and check out the track meet.
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