Atlantic Hockey Previews: AIC Loses Historic Group, Robert Morris Reloads

AIC Hockey

AIC has been crowned Atlantic Hockey regular season champions in each of the past two seasons and endured an incredible run into the second round of the NCAA tournament two years ago. This season, the Yellow Jackets look to replace players that have solidified their name in AIC history books. While there are large skates to fill, the Yellow Jackets return talent and depth from their 20-win season in 2019-20. 

As for Robert Morris, the Colonials return top scorer Nick Prkusic and a handful of other producers from last season. The Colonials look to reload and improve upon their record from last year.

American International College

2019-20 Record: 21-12-1 (21-6-1 AH)

The Yellow Jackets followed their breakout season in 2018-19 with another 20-win year in 2019-20. Over their last two seasons, AIC has totaled 44 wins, placing them as one of the winning most programs in the country during that period. Looking ahead to this year, the Yellow Jackets lose five All-Conference Team members while returning several key players from last season. 

Returning

Leading the group of returning players for AIC is Brennan Kapcheck. Kapcheck has earned Atlantic Hockey First Team nods in his last two seasons, and was one half of the second-most scoring defensive pair in Atlantic Hockey history in 2019-20. Kapcheck totaled 25 points last season and enters this year as the all-time Division I points leader in Yellow Jackets history with 76 career points. 

Supporting Kapcheck in the scoring department are senior forward Tobias Fladeby. Fladeby netted 12 goals and added 11 assists to finish with 23 points last season. He enters this season as the most productive forward among returning players from last year. Rounding out returning scorers are juniors Elijah Barriga and Luka Maver. The pair combined for 36 points last season. AIC returns some experience in the net with senior goaltender Stefano Durante. In 17 games, Durante posted an 11-6-1 record with a .918 save percentage.

Departures

AIC loses five Atlantic Hockey All-Conference Team members from last year. Leading this group is AIC’s first Division I All American Blake Christensen. Christensen became the program's all-time points leader after 28 points last season. With 11 goals and 17 assists, Christensen earned Atlantic Hockey First Team selection. 

Joining Christensen on the First Team was goaltender Zackarias Skog. Skog held a 1.83 goals-against average while saving 92.6% of the shots against him. On the blue line, the Yellow Jackets depart from the other half of their historic defensive pair in 2019-20. Patrik Demel earned Second Team selection totaling 21 points and a team-best +12 last season. Capping off this group are forwards Martin Mellberg and Hugo Reinhardt. The pair combined for 50 points last season and earned Atlantic Hockey Third Team nods. 

Additions

The Yellow Jackets add 11 freshmen and two transfers to their 2020-21 roster. Redshirt sophomore and Minnesota State transfer Zak Galambos looks to make an impact from the blue line in his first eligible season for AIC. Joining him as a transfer is redshirt freshman from Providence, goaltender Jake Kucharski. The freshman class for the Yellow Jackets consists of seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender. 

Robert Morris

2019-20 Record: 12-19-5 (10-12-5 AH)

Robert Morris defeated Holy Cross in the opening round of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament last season. The colonials had an up-and-down season last year and look to improve in 2020-21. The good news is Robert Morris returns some top talent this season, but looks for new consistency in the goal crease. 

Returning

The Colonials return six double-digit scorers this season, none more impressive than senior forward Nick Prkusic in 2019-20. Prkusic led the team with 28 points, scoring 11 goals and adding 17 assists to his stat line. Prkusic was also a monster on the power play, netting four goals on the extra-man unit, making a serious case for an All-Conference Team nod. 

Adding to the scoring are junior forwards Justin Addamo, Grant Hebert, and Aidan Spellacy. Addamo totaled 19 points, accumulating six goals and 13 assists last season. Hebert and Spellacy look for continued production in 2020-21, combining for 24 points during their sophomore campaigns. On the back end, The Colonials welcome back Brendan Michaelian and Nick Jenny. The two played big minutes for Robert Morris and tallied 12 and 11 points respectively. The Colonials return some experience between the pipes in Dylan Lubbesmeyer and Reid Cooper. While each earned starts last season, Lubbesmeyer held stronger numbers, posting a 2.51 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. 

Departures

The leading departure for the Colonials is goaltender Justin Kapelmaster. Kapelmaster exits as the all-time leader in save percentage and goals-against average in Robert Morris history. The Ferris State transfer posted a strong 2.48 goals-against average while saving 93% of shots faced, placing him second conference-wide in save percentage. 

The Colonials also say goodbye to scorers Luke Lynch, Daniel Mantenuto, and Jacob Coleman. Lynch departs with 100 career points, totaling five goals for 17 points last season. Throughout his career, Lynch was a lethal scorer and playmaker for Robert Morris, leaving a major hole this upcoming season. Mantenuto matched Lynch in points last year, despite playing in just 24 games. Lastly, Jacob Coleman was a strong two way forward throughout his career with Colonials, earning a large role on the penalty kill while scoring nine goals for 21 points in 2019-20. 

Additions

Robert Morris adds eight freshmen and one transfer to their roster in 2020-21. The freshmen consist of five forwards, two defensemen, and one forward. A player to watch in this group is forward Randy Hernandez. In the AJHL last season, Hernandez totaled 95 points in just 57 games played. Additionally NAHL products Matthew Guerra and Gavin Gulash look to add scoring combining for 93 points in 2019-20. Goaltender Noah West could also earn time in the net for the Colonials this season. University of Connecticut transfer Jordan Timmons also looks to make an impact this season after skating in 19 games for the Huskies last year.

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