2024 Robert Morris vs RIT - Men's QF

2024 Atlantic Hockey Postseason: Quarterfinal Preview

2024 Atlantic Hockey Postseason: Quarterfinal Preview

The quarterfinals of the 2024 Atlantic Hockey Postseason are set for this weekend, and the remaining eight teams are seeded for their best-of-three series.

Mar 5, 2024 by Jacob Messing
2024 Atlantic Hockey Postseason: Quarterfinal Preview

The quarterfinals of the 2024 Atlantic Hockey Postseason are set for this weekend, and the remaining eight teams are seeded for their best-of-three series.

No. 1 RIT earned its second consecutive regular-season title and is getting back to action after a bye in the single-game opening round.

Also gearing up for their respective runs from bye weeks are No. 2 Holy Cross and No. 3 Sacred Heart.

With technical byes, No. 4 Air Force will host No. 5 AIC to open their postseasons.

After staving off elimination, No. 11 Robert Morris is reseeded to No. 8, No. 8 Canisius is reseeded to No. 7 and No. 7 Niagara is reseeded to No. 6.

The quarterfinals are set to take place from March 8-10 at the home rink of the higher seed, should any series require the full three games.

The semifinals will take place from March 15-17, with the remaining two programs playing March 23 for the championship and a trip to the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship.

Don’t miss a second of the action. Livestream every Atlantic Hockey game – and much more – right here on FloHockey, all season long.

No. 8 Robert Morris At No. 1 RIT

RIT: 15-5-3-3 AHA, 22-10-2 overall
Robert Morris: 7-16-1-2 AHA, 11-23-3 overall (including AHA Postseason)
Season Series: 4-0, RIT

No. 11-seeded Robert Morris took the role of underdog in stride in the opening round, defeating Bentley in a 4-3 overtime thriller.

The Colonials returned to the NCAA and Atlantic Hockey after a two-year hiatus with a team largely built on freshmen and transfers. The mix of experience and youth saw ups and downs, and while a third-period fallout was in the works, who else but Cameron Garvey could play the hero.

Garvey now has six goals and eight points in his past nine games, and he scored the game-winner with 10 seconds remaining in the extra frame.

The Colonials ended a four-game skid and will look to build on their win against regular-season champion RIT.

The Tigers bring a wealth of experience with a large returning cast that ran away with the 2022-2023 regular-season title and claimed it again this year with an eight-point margin.

Add in a 4-0 season series with a pair of sweeps of the Colonials, and RIT will have no shortage of confidence this week.

The Tigers outscored the Colonials 21-7 in their four outings, including two six-goal wins and a seven-goal win. Yet, the Tigers’ postseason ended abruptly last year, losing in the second round to underdog Holy Cross.

Wayne Wilson’s team is built for the national tournament as the No. 19-ranked program in the NCAA, and the three-game format is in their favor.

No. 7 Canisius At No. 2 Holy Cross

Holy Cross: 13-7-1-5 AHA, 18-12-2 overall
Canisius: 8-11-2-5 AHA, 12-19-4 overall (including AHA Postseason)
Season Series: 1-0-1, Canisius

Canisius coach Trevor Large celebrated his 100th win with the Golden Griffins in their 5-2 victory over Mercyhurst in Round 1.

The Griffins claimed four of the six possible points over the Crusaders this season with a 5-3 win and 3-3 shootout loss in their opening of conference play in October.

Both teams have come a long way since the fall, and Canisius certainly will be expecting a tougher team that finished second in the conference.

The Griffins’ opening-round win over Mercyhurst snapped a two-game skid, where they were swept by an equally tough opponent in RIT by a combined 12-4 score.

A strong start and 4-0 lead helped them outlast the Lakers’ two-goal, third period and gave them insight to the kind of pressure they’ll face form a Holy Cross team that performs best in the final frame.

The Crusaders showed their underdog run in 2023 was no fluke and that coach Bill Riga is building something special at Holy Cross. Riga took over a last-place program three seasons ago and has turned it into a second-place finish this year.

Last year’s playoff run ended at the hands of Canisius, leaving Holy Cross a win shy of the national tournament.

Now better, deeper and experienced, the Crusaders may be looking at this series as a bit of revenge, but Canisius’ roster changes shape up more toward just another team in the way. Regardless of the series result, fans can expect more from Holy Cross in the near future.

No. 6 Niagara At No. 3 Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart: 12-8-3-3 AHA, 14-17-3 overall
Niagara: 10-9-4-3 AHA, 16-16-3 overall (including AHA Postseason)
Season Series: 1-0-0-1, Sacred Heart

Niagara spent much of its opening-round game against Army on the defense, allowing 43 shots against and five powerplays. It’s a credit to the strength and determination Army brings every game, but the 4-1 box score doesn’t always offer enough credit to a game.

The Purple Eagles’ middle-of-the-road penalty kill matches well with Sacred Heart’s equally middling powerplay, but momentum can be a killer, and spending too much time short-handed will not be the recipe against a strong Sacred Heart team finding its groove on home ice.

The Pioneers haven’t come out on top in their last four games, but they are too good to continue their slide. With three of those four games on the road, a home series – where they have gone 5-2-2 since Feb. 1 – could be exactly what they need.

A deep offense has been the Eagles’ weakness, and Sacred Heart brings just that, as Niagara ranked 22nd in shots per game and 14th in the NCAA in shots against.

The Pioneers three leading scorers have combined for just a single assist over the past four games, and they’ll look to set the tone this weekend.

No. 5 AIC At No. 4 Air Force

Air Force: 12-10-4 AHA, 18-17-1 overall
AIC: 11-9-3-3 AHA, 16-14-4 overall
Season Series: 1-1

The series has been set since the conclusion of the regular season, giving both teams more than enough time to prepare for each other.

Now, with the second round incoming, the 1-1 season series leaves the net open for either team book a trip to the semifinals.

AIC’s four-year run as regular-season champs is two years removed now, but an Eric Lang-coached program never can be counted out.

The Yellow Jackets may have finished in fifth place, but the four-point gap from second place is small. The Jackets have gone four straight games without a regulation loss and are showing their ability when the clock winds down.

Freshman netminder Nils Wallstrom put together strong season, and his stability in big games will be something to watch for the 2024 Mike Richter Watch List nominee.

But on the other end, Air Force is a program built on recruiting, four-year commitments and future military personnel – intimidation and “can’t” don’t go over well.

Frank Serratore is about to see the puck drop on his 26th conference tournament, and he has come out on top for seven championships.

The Falcons have won three straight and four of their past five, showing they can dig deep when points matter most. A deep offense and stingy puck-moving defense will be key to overcoming AIC.

Don’t miss a moment of the quarterfinals. Livestream every Atlantic Hockey game – and much more – right here on FloHockey, all season long.

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