2024 Niagara vs RIT - Men's Semifinal

2024 Atlantic Hockey Postseason: Semifinal Preview

2024 Atlantic Hockey Postseason: Semifinal Preview

The semifinals of the 2024 AHA Postseason are this weekend, and the remaining programs have been re-seeded for another round of best-of-three series.

Mar 13, 2024 by Jacob Messing
2024 Atlantic Hockey Postseason: Semifinal Preview

The semifinals of the 2024 Atlantic Hockey Postseason are set for this weekend, and the remaining programs have been re-seeded for another round of best-of-three series.

All four surviving programs swept their opponents in the quarterfinals, with the top two seeds moving on, joined by a pair of teams that see their seasons continue thanks to upsets in the last round.

The semifinals will take place from March 15-17, with the remaining two programs playing for the championship March 23 at the home of the higher seed. Also on the line will be a trip to the 16-team NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship.

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

No. 4 Niagara At No. 1 RIT 

RIT: 15-5-3-3 AHA, 24-10-2 overall (including AHA Postseason)
Niagara: 10-9-4-3 AHA, 18-16-3 overall (including AHA Postseason)
Season Series: 1-1-0-1, Niagara

Niagara began the Atlantic Hockey Postseason as the seventh seed, moved up to the sixth seed in the quarterfinals and now will be in the No. 4 slot for the semifinals – but the Purple Eagles hold the season’s series advantage over RIT, where a shootout win gives them the edge.

Niagara bested Army, 4-1, to open the playoffs, then upset a strong No. 3 Sacred Heart in a sweep that saw 6-3 and 5-1 wins. The Purple Eagles are playing solid defensive hockey and letting the offense do its job.

The Eagles’ leading scorers are doing just that, as five players have four points in the team’s three playoff games. Forward Jack Richard is pacing the group with three goals, while defenseman Noah Carlin leads from the backend with three assists.

Graduate transfer Jarret Fiske is showing his knowledge of Atlantic Hockey after four years with AIC. He has stopped 110 of 115 shots in the postseason for a .956 save percentage and a 1.67 goals-against average.

His biggest challenge awaits, however, as RIT sits sixth in the NCAA with 3.9 goals per game and is the true No. 1 seed.

The Tigers have won five straight and eight of their past 10 games. They made quick work of Robert Morris in the quarterfinals with 7-0 and 5-1 wins.

Their balanced attack saw 23 skaters register a point in their 15-goal barrage against Robert Morris. The feat included eight goal scorers and 15 skaters tallying at least one assist.

But the series MVP undoubtedly was freshman Tyler Fukakusa.

With three goals and six points in the series, he’s brought his offensive totals up to eight goals and 26 points in 36 games.

After a seven-game stretch with just one assist, Fukakusa now has 10 points over his past four games, with eight being primary points.

Stellar play from the freshman goes a long way for a program with a large returning cast and consecutive regular season titles.

The goal is clear for RIT: make the national tournament.

In Atlantic Hockey, that path has been the automatic berth of the conference championship for a number of years now, but that’s the parity of college hockey, mixed with some politics.

Three more wins separate the Tigers from that berth, but the odds are in their favor and the depth is, too.

No. 3 AIC At No. 2 Holy Cross

Holy Cross: 13-7-1-5 AHA, 20-12-2 overall (including AHA Postseason)
AIC: 11-9-3-3 AHA, 18-14-4 overall (including AHA Postseason)
Season Series: 2-1-0-1, AIC

Regular-season titles or not, AIC proved that with Eric Lang at the helm, it won’t go away quietly.

The Yellow Jackets’ fifth-place conference finish and .510 overall win percentage were their lowest since 2017-2018, but the room remains full of experience and tenacity that shone through last round.

The Jackets got hot in mid-February and have only experienced a loss via shootout over their past seven games, including three consecutive regulation wins.

AIC has not allowed more than two goals in each of their past six games, and the defense and goaltending are shutting the door.

That starts with freshman Nils Wallstrom in the crease. The Swedish goaltender has gone 4-0-0-1 over his past five games with a 1.33 GAA and .957 SV%.

In three games against Holy Cross this season, Wallstrom has an equally impressive 1.94 GAA and .931 SV% with a 2-0-0-1 record.

When it comes to experience, Holy Cross doesn’t come up short.

While AIC has been the lone conference berth in four of the past five national tournaments, Holy Cross ousted AIC in the quarterfinals in 2023.

The Crusaders were on a streak of their own and came a single win from the program’s first national tournament bid since 2006.

This year, the Crusaders got their revenge with a sweep over Canisius, the same program that ended their 2023 Cinderella run with a lopsided championship game.

A narrow 4-3 opening game saw a double-overtime thriller, with Jack Seymour scoring the 2-1 overtime winner less than three minutes into the fifth frame.

A balanced attack has seen the Crusaders win nine of their past 10 contests.

An electric offense led by Liam McLinskey – who is on a 12-game point streak consisting of eight goals, 13 assists and 21 points – poses a deep challenge as the Crusaders seek another opportunity at the national stage.

Join The Hockey Conversation On FloHockey Social

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