2022 AIC vs Air Force - Men's

AIC, Air Force To Meet In Atlantic Hockey Championship Game

AIC, Air Force To Meet In Atlantic Hockey Championship Game

No. 1 seed AIC and No. 6 seed Air Force will skate for the Jack Riley Memorial Trophy when they meet in the Atlantic Hockey Championship Game on Saturday.

Mar 19, 2022 by Todd Bell
AIC, Air Force To Meet In Atlantic Hockey Championship Game

UTICA, N.Y. – Top-seeded AIC and No. 6 seed Air Force will skate for the Jack Riley Memorial Trophy when the two squads meet in the Atlantic Hockey Championship Game on Saturday at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, N.Y.

The meeting will be the first between the two teams in the AHA title game. Air Force enters Saturday’s contest seeking its eighth AHA Postseason crown while AIC is looking to win its third consecutive title and third overall.

Air Force’s seven titles (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2017, 2018) are the most by an AHA in the conference’s postseason tournament. A third title for AIC on Saturday would tie the Yellow Jackets for second all-time with RIT (2010, 2015 and 2016).

Puck drop for Saturday’s contest is 7:35 p.m. ET.

Semifinal 1: AIC 5, Mercyhurst 4

AIC advanced to Saturday’s final with a hard-fought 5-4 battle with No. 7 seed Mercyhurst on Friday afternoon. The Lakers overturned a 2-1 second period deficit to take a 3-2 lead before AIC rallied to derail the upset effort with three third period goals and held off a late charge for the victory.

The star of the game was AIC junior forward Blake Bennett. With a three-goal evening, Bennett tied the Atlantic Hockey Association postseason record for most hat tricks in a tournament with his second such outing of the 2022 Championship. That ties the mark set by RIT’s Matt Smith in the 2008 Championship.

Junior defenseman Zak Galambos and senior forward Elijiah Barriga had the remaining goals for AIC. Junior forward Brett Callahan had a two-assist outing. In goal, graduate netminder Alec Calvaruso turned aside 17 Laker shots to improve his season record to 9-4-0. The win was AIC’s fourth straight.

For Mercyhurst, junior forward Rylee St. Onge scored two goals, while sophomore forwards Dante Sheriff and Austin Heidemann had one apiece. Sheriff also added an assist on his ledger for the afternoon. Sophomore goaltender Kyle McClellan stopped 44 of 48 shots to keep the Lakers in the hunt.

AIC out-shot the Lakers by a 49-21 count. Mercyhurst was 1-for-2 on the power play, while AIC went 0-for-2. Mercyhurst blocked an impressive 21 shots, including four from senior defenseman Michael Bevilacqua.

Semifinal 2: Air Force 4, RIT 3

In a frantic third period, Air Force defenseman Brandon Koch scored twice, including the game-winner, and the sixth-seeded Falcons held off a furious charge by fourth-seeded RIT in the final moments for a 4-3 win to punch their ticket to Saturday’s championship game.

Behind Koch’s two goals, a host of others made a meaningful difference for the Falcons. Sophomore defenseman Luke Rowe added three assists, while freshman forward Clayton Cosentino added a pair of assists in his championship site debut. Sophomore forward Will Gavin and freshman forward Andrew DeCarlo had a goal apiece. In net, the Falcons’ lone senior in the lineup, Alex Schilling, made 24 saves to reserve a spot in the championship.

Senior defenseman Dan Willett, freshman forward Grady Hobbs, and sophomore defenseman Aiden Hansen-Bukata had goals for the Tigers. Willett wrapped up tonight’s game as the conference’s all-time leader in games played as he hit the ice for the 166th time in his collegiate career. In net, freshman Tommy Scarfone made 22 saves.

The Tigers held a 27-26 edge in shots, and both teams went 1-for-2 on the power play. Both man advantage goals were scored in a 44 second span in Friday’s game.