2021-22 AHA Power Rankings

National Rankings Pile Up AHA Losses

Losses have been the theme for Atlantic Hockey early on, but they’ve come against nationally ranked programs and should be giving AHA teams a taste of what it takes to win.

FloHockey’s bimonthly evaluation on everything Atlantic Hockey. Find out which of AHA’s 10 teams rise, fall, or stay put as weekly series unfolds in Atlantic Hockey.

1. AIC

Record: 0-1 overall

On paper, kicking the season off with a loss is not inspiring, but much like their conference counterparts, the Yellow Jackets loaded up their pre-conference games with ranked programs.

The Jackets dropped a 4-1 exhibition to No. 7 Boston College and a 5-1 non-conference decision to No. 11 Providence. The main concern right now is the lack of offense, which has mustered up just two goals thus far. The team is too stacked for this to carry on too long, but until pucks start finding twine, it’s a concern.

2. RIT

Record: 1-0-1 (1-1-1 overall)

The Tigers sit undefeated in conference play and earn the No. 2 spot because of it. A win and shootout loss to Army showed the Tigers are ready to return to their 2019-20 form after a rough pod season. The strong series came after a 5-2 loss to Colgate to open the season.

Talent and depth remain throughout the lineup and both Will Calverley and Andrew Rinaldi have already netted hat tricks as the scoring leaders. With some bounce back in the crease, the Tigers will skate themselves near the top of the conference come tournament time.

3. Air Force

Record: 2-1 overall

Air Force is getting the ultimate benefit of “overall,” with the addition of an exhibition win putting them at 2-1. The reason? A win is a win and wins build confidence, so as one of the few Atlantic Hockey teams to hold a win after the conference’s collective rough start, this one counts.

With a series split with Michigan State, the Falcons are already among the surprises in the AHA after three total wins in 2020-21. Coach Frank Serratore has his team looking like they are ready to take flight again. 

4. Army West Point

Record: 0-1-1 (0-2-1 overall)

Each game has been better than the last for Army, going from a 7-0 loss to No. 12 Providence, to a 6-5 loss to RIT, to a 2-2 tie with the Tigers. Offense hasn’t been the issue, but the loss of three minute-munching defensemen has the blue line working to get its feet under it.

The Knights have another test this Friday with a series against No. 13 Wisconsin, which has dropped each of its three contests through spotty defense and a quiet offense. A win or two over the struggling Badgers could be the confidence Army needs to get going.

5. Canisius

Record: 1-1 overall

The Golden Griffins built up expectations after last season and cemented those expectations with a 4-1 win over Penn State to open their regular season. The unranked and underrated Nittany Lions returned fire with a 5-2 win the following night, teaching the Griffins a lesson in early non-conference games: bring it every night.

The Griffins have another pair of games against a Rensselaer program coming off a 0-1-1 split with the depleted Bowling Green program. They’ll need to take the pair of games and prep for No. 20-ranked Clarkson on Oct. 19.

6. Mercyhurst

Record: 0-2 overall

Despite the 0-2 start, Mercyhurst comes in at No. 6. The Lakers lost an exhibition game to a strong Vermont team in addition to being swept by No. 4-ranked Minnesota. It’s a big difference than losses to conference rivals or early-season ‘gimmes.’

The offense is showing up with the trio of sophomores in Dante Sheriff, Carson Briere, and Austin Heidemann leading the team in scoring with 10 combined points through two games. Defensive effort remains the question in Erie.

7. Bentley

Record: 1-2 overall

Not every program can earn a national rank and just because Northeastern and Ohio State didn’t currently hold one against Bentley doesn’t mean they weren’t worthy. The Falcons’ 4-0 shutout loss to Northeastern was a bumpy start, but they came out mean against Ohio State the following week. 

It culminated in a stolen win, a strong 2-1 defensive effort that stymied the Buckeyes on the heels of netminder Nicholas Grabko. Grabko will be a staple in the crease if he can continue this play after a large learning curve last season brought on by a lot of variables.

8. Niagara

Record: 0-2 overall

Niagara is another team that faced defeat at the hands of a national powerhouse in No. 8-ranked North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks swept the Purple Eagles by a total score of 10-2 and gave early Rookie of the Year candidate Jake Sibell a taste of premier college hockey.

The Eagles also tied Canisius 2-2 in exhibition play on Oct. 2 and were visibly more in tune against their conference foe. With a coming series against Penn State, the Eagles will need to adapt to the lessons learned against North Dakota and prep themselves for coming conference play.

9. Holy Cross

Record: 0-2 overall

The Crusaders had the honor of hosting the Ice Breaker, where a pair of losses to No. 18-ranked Northeastern and No. 6 Boston College dampened their regular season opening weekend.

The losses came a week after a 6-1 exhibition loss to No. 10 Boston University. The trio of losses to begin the season were against dangerous teams that already have an eye on the National Tournament, but with just two goals, the Crusaders will need to find an offensive spark ahead of conference play.

10. Sacred Heart

Record: 0-2 overall

The Pioneers offense showed out for a pair of modest contests against Connecticut and Merrimack, but ultimately came out on the wrong end. It was promising in the sense that offense was the team’s undoing last season and now they are finding early confidence in the offensive zone.

But defense remains a concern with 10 goals allowed through two games. The offseason change on the blue line can be written off as the problem, but as the defense builds chemistry and settles in, that should include more support for Josh Benson and Justin Robbins in net.