American International Breaking Away As Atlantic Hockey Seeding Shapes Up

The American International Yellow Jackets are riding a nine-game win streak, which has propelled them to six-point lead atop Atlantic Hockey as the conference tournament nears. 

The Yellow Jackets were just shy of a national ranking in Monday’s USCHO Poll and are currently 30th in the Pairwise Rankings, one spot ahead of Sacred Heart, whom AIC has leapfrogged in recent weeks.

Holding an 18-5-1 conference record (18-11-1 overall), the Yellow Jackets’ run has them on the verge of a second consecutive AH regular-season title, meaning the top seed for the conference tournament.

It places them in prime position for a potential second-consecutive NCAA tournament berth, where they ousted top-seeded St. Cloud State last spring, adding to Atlantic Hockey’s trend of NCAA tournament upsets.

AIC’s current streak has been far more than wins as the Yellow Jackets have averaged 4.22 goals per game in that span while allowing just 2.0 goals against per game.

Their tremendous play has pulled them up to the 13th-best in goals per game (3.23) in the NCAA and the 10th-best goals against per game (2.23) in the NCAA.

AIC has also come to life with the man advantage, sitting at 18th nationally with a 22.1 percent conversion rate. During their current streak, they have gone 12-for-44 (27.3 percent) and failed to score a power-play goal in just two of their past nine games.

Things have gone even more smoothly on the other side of the ice, where the Yellow Jackets have the fourth-best penalty kill in the NCAA with an 87.5-percent kill rate.

AIC leads the field of five teams that earn a bye through the first round of the conference tournament, followed by Sacred Heart, Army, RIT, and Robert Morris. The six remaining teams will be seeded for the first round.

(6) Bentley vs (11) Mercyhurst

Bentley: 35 pts.

Mercyhurst: 10 pts.

As several games remain for AH programs, only Mercyhurst’s current 11th-place standing is a lock for Round 1. Bentley went 3-1 against Mercyhurst this season and could be in for an easy trip to Round 2 if the chips remain in place down the stretch. 

Bentley is on a three-game losing streak and has two games remaining: a home-and-home with Holy Cross on Feb. 28-29. Mercyhurst has gone 1-18-1 over their past 20 games with a nine-game losing streak.

(t-7) Air Force vs (10) Canisius

Air Force: 33 pts.

Canisius: 29 pts.

Air Force currently holds the tiebreaker over Niagara and is currently matched up against Canisius for Round 1. Air Force has gone 0-6-1 in their past seven and has four conference games remaining.

Canisius also has four games remaining and has gone 2-5-1 in their past seven contests, currently three points out of ninth place.

(t-7) Niagara vs (9) Holy Cross

Niagara: 33 pts.

Holy Cross: 32 pts.

Niagara has gone 5-3 in their past eight games, including three combined wins over conference powers Army and Sacred Heart. Niagara has four games left to improve their standing ahead of the tournament.

Holy Cross has gone 4-3 in their past seven games and has a tough matchup with AIC coming up this weekend as two of their four remaining games. 

Don’t miss any Atlantic Hockey action down the stretch, stream all conference games live, right here on FloHockey.

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

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