2023 Mercyhurst vs RIT - Men's

Eight-Team Atlantic Hockey Postseason Set To Begin

Eight-Team Atlantic Hockey Postseason Set To Begin

The seeds are set, and the dates are lined up for the 20th annual Atlantic Hockey Tournament. The first round will take place March 3-5.

Mar 2, 2023 by Jacob Messing
Eight-Team Atlantic Hockey Postseason Set To Begin

The seeds are set, and the dates are lined up for the 20th annual Atlantic Hockey Tournament.

This year, eight programs enter the postseason, where a best-of-three opening round will take place March 3-5, leaving Bentley and Air Force on the outside of Atlantic Hockey’s reformatted playoffs.

Don’t miss a second of the action – FloHockey will stream every tournament game live – until only the champion remains.

The quarterfinals will take place March 10-12, with the teams being re-seeded, and the higher seeds hosting another round of best-of-three series.

The single-game championship will take place March 18, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the 16-team national tournament.

No. 1 RIT Vs. No. 8 Mercyhurst

Top-seeded RIT will host Mercyhurst and will be looking to recover from a sluggish February.

The Tigers swept Air Force to close out the regular season, finishing 18-7-1 (22-11-1 overall).

The Tigers finished 10 points ahead of second place, skating to the first inaugural DeGregorio Trophy, but they aren’t finished. They’re still after a berth at the national event.

Claiming two of the next three games is the minimum of expectations for RIT entering the first round, where a they will look to expand their 1-0-1 mark over Mercyhurst.

The Lakers 2-4-0-2 February record dragged them down from once flirting with home ice to now being the certain underdog against RIT.

Mercyhurst finished the season with a 9-14-3 record (10-21-3 overall) and a mere six points from fourth place.

A hot-and-cold program this season, Mercyhurst will look to be the former and fight for a chance to keep their season going into the second round. Their key will be to minimize shots against and hope the series doesn’t turn into a high-scoring affair.

Prediction: RIT, 2-0

No. 2 AIC Vs. No. 7 Holy Cross

Despite losing their first regular season since 2018, the Yellow Jackets still went 14-8-4 (17-12-7 overall) and shouldn’t be viewed with any more ease.

A 7-4-2 record since Jan. 1 is all the indication their first-round foe needs to see they’re still in contention for their fourth consecutive berth to the national tournament (excluding 2020).

Deep at every position, the Jackets remain a serious threat, even with a 1-1 record against Holy Cross this season, with each program earning a lopsided win.

But the Crusaders (12-12-2, 13-18-3 overall) had their strongest month of the season in February with a 5-3 record. The run included two shutouts and two overtime wins.

They’ve shown resilience, and it’s a quality that will be needed against an experienced AIC program.

Their confidence could be higher after ending the season by being swept by Canisius, but the Golden Griffins showed nobody was a match for them in February.

Prediction: AIC, 2-1

No. 3 Sacred Heart Vs. No. 6 Niagara

Two points out of second place after an impressive season highlighted by the brand new Martire Family Arena, the Pioneers still get to bring a playoff atmosphere to the professional-level facility, just two months after its opening night.

A 14-9-3 record (16-15-3 overall) has the Pioneers back to the level of their historic 2019-2020 season that was cut short by COVID.

The roster has changed, but the anticipation and excitement have only grown, as the Pioneers search for their first visit to the national tournament and the pieces to bring an upset or two.

But Niagara still stands in the way first, and falling just seven points short (10-13-3, 16-15-3 overall) means a fun series can be expected.

The Purple Eagles snapped a three-game losing streak to close out the season and split the season series 1-1, dating all the way back to late October.

A lot has changed on both sides, if not on the roster, certainly on the ice.

On paper, the series is anyone’s, but having to walk into the atmosphere that’s certain to exist at Sacred Heart, the intangibles will be the difference-maker for the series winner.

Prediction: Sacred Heart, 2-0

No. 4 Canisius Vs. No. 5 Army West Point

As mentioned, the Griffins weren’t going to let any team stand in their way in February, going 7-2-0-1 in a packed month to finish in fourth-place and with more than half of their conference wins in the final month.

The Griffins late push lifted them to a 13-10-3 record (15-16-3 overall) this season.

They’re a different, more confident team after their season struggles, but Army West Point still holds the season series at 2-0-1-1. The series may be the most exciting of the opening round.

Army, 12-12-2 (13-17-4 overall), also saw its best hockey arrive late in the season.

The Black Knights went 5-2-1-1 in February and fell two points shy of hosting Canisius in the opening round.

The Knights boast the favorite for AHA Rookie of the Year in Max Itagaki, whose offensive stats have landed him among first-round NHL draft picks and in contention for the Tim Taylor Award as the Division I Rookie of the Year.

Now, fans and alumni will get to see what he brings in what will be must-win, must-watch hockey.

Prediction: An exciting series; but Canisius, 2-1.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.