Air Force (18-13-5, 13-11-4 AHC) has a bye in the Atlantic Hockey first round. The Falcons tied for third in Atlantic Hockey and are the fifth seed in the tournament.
The Falcons will travel to fourth-seeded Army (14-13-6, 12-10-6 AHC), Friday-Sunday, March 9-11, at Tate Rink in West Point, N.Y. The teams will play a best-of-three series at 7:05 pm Friday-Saturday, and Sunday, if necessary.
The Playoff Picture
Mercyhurst won the regular season title with 36 points. Canisius was second (34) while Holy Cross, Army and Air Force all had 30 and tied for third. Holy Cross wins the three-way tiebreaker, going 1-0-1 against both Air Force and Army. Army finishes fourth based on sweeping Air Force this season, Nov. 3-4, at Air Force.
In the first round, best-of-three series, No. 6 RIT hosts No. 11 Sacred Heart; No. 7 Robert Morris hosts No. 10 Bentley; No. 8 AIC hosts No. 9 Niagara. The top three seeds will host the winners of the first-round games in the quarterfinals, while Army will host Air Force.
The four winners of the quarterfinals advance to the Atlantic Hockey Final Four at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y., March 16-17.
Scouting the Black Knights
Army is the No. 4 seed in the tournament, 14-13-6 overall and 12-10-6 in the league. Army swept Sacred Heart at home last weekend to move into the tie for third place. Army has won four of its last five games and is 7-3-4 in the second half of the season. Sophomore Michael Wilson leads the team with 17 goals and 29 points. Sophomore Dominic Franco has 17 assists and 28 points. Senior Cole Bruns has played the majority of the minutes in goal and has a 2.39 GAA and a .921 saves percentage.
Familiar Foe in Playoffs
Air Force and Army will meet for the fourth time in the playoffs and the Falcons are 4-0 in those games. This is the first time they will meet in a playoff series at Army. Air Force defeated Army in the 2007 Atlantic Hockey semifinals, Air Force’s first league title. In 2010, the Falcons swept the Black Knights in a quarterfinal series at Cadet Ice Arena (3-0 and 4-2). The Falcons then lost to Sacred Heart in the AHC semifinals. Last season, Air Force defeated Army, 1-0, in the AHC semifinals in Rochester. Air Force went on to win the 2017 AHC Championship.
Air Force and Army met back in November at Cadet Ice Arena and Army swept an injury-struck Falcon team, 3-2 and 2-0.
On Feb. 1, Air Force was in ninth place with 18 points... The Falcons collected 12 points in February to jump into a tie for third ... Air Force took three of four points from Robert Morris last weekend in Pittsburgh ... The Falcons are 4-1-1 in their last six ... Since Jan. 6, Air Force is 10-3-2 in its last 15 games ... Air Force has killed 10 straight opponent power plays, including all five at Robert Morris and ranks third in the AHC and 14th in the nation at 83.7 percent ... Erik Baskin leads the team in goals and points (14-10-23) ... 18 Falocns have combined to miss 176 games due to injury.
Stingy Service Academies
Air Force and Army are two of the stingiest teams in the both the conference and nation. Air Force ranks first in the AHC and 12th in the nation in goals allowed (2.39) per game. Army ranks second in the AHC and 19th in the nation (2.58). On the penalty kill, Army is first in the AHC and fourth in the nation (87.8) while AF is third in AHC and 14th in nation (83.7)
Series vs. Army
Air Force leads the all-time series vs. Army, 41-23-6. Army swept Air Force earlier this season (3-2 and 2-0) at the Cadet Ice Arena, Nov. 3-4.. Last season, Air Force took three of the four regular season games and then defeated Army, 1-0, in the AHC semifinals. The teams played a two-game series at West Point last season and the teams split the series, In Atlantic Hockey games (since 2006-07), Air Force leads the series, 18-8-4. Since becoming the Falcons’ coach in 1997, Serratore is 30-14-5 (66 percent) vs. the Black Knights. In games played at West Point, Air Force holds a 15-14-3 advantage. Air Force is 5-1-3 vs. Army in the last nine games at Tate Rink.
Note: There has always been a discrepancy in the series records according to Army and Air Force. In 1969, AF’s first season of varsity hockey, the Falcons and Black Knights played twice in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Army won by scores of 12-4 and 8-0. The games are reflected in Army’s series record (23-41-6 vs. AFA), but have not been counted by Air Force (41-23-7 vs. Army). According to Air Force records, the games were considered exhibition games and were not on the team’s original schedule or final results that season.