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2009 Atlantic Hockey Tournament

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The 2009 Atlantic Hockey Tournament took place between March 7 and March 21, 2009.

The regular season co-champions were the Air Force Falcons and the RIT Tigers. The teams split a two-game series at RIT on the last weekend of the regular season to finish with identical 20-6-2 conference records.

Air Force was named the top tournament seed based on the second tie-breaker, head-to-head goal differential. The Falcons extended their AHA records for consecutive appearances in the championship game (3), tournament titles (3), and consecutive tournament titles (3). In three seasons in the AHA, Air Force has lost only one postseason game (cumulative record 12-1-0), winning the championship each year.

The seeds for the tournament were:

  1. Air Force Falcons
  2. RIT Tigers
  3. Mercyhurst Lakers
  4. Bentley Falcons
  5. Canisius Golden Griffins
  6. Army Black Knights
  7. Holy Cross Crusaders
  8. Sacred Heart Pioneers
  9. Connecticut Huskies
  10. American International Yellow Jackets

Play-in RoundEdit

The play-in round was used to reduce the field of 10 to a standard bracket of 8 teams. The #7 and #8 teams hosted the #10 and #9 teams on Saturday, March 7.

American International at Holy CrossEdit

Only two penalties were called the entire game, both on AIC.

7 March 2009
Hart Center – Worcester, MA
   
1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
 #7 Holy Cross 0 0 0 1 1
 #10 American Int'l 0 0 0 0 0


Holy Cross will travel to Rochester to play a quarterfinal series at RIT for the second year in a row.

Connecticut at Sacred HeartEdit

UConn plays at Sacred Heart for the second year in a row, although in 2008 it was a three-game series that Sacred Heart won two games to one.

7 March 2009
Milford Ice Pavilion – Milford, CT
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #8 Sacred Heart 1 1 2 4
 #9 Connecticut 0 1 1 2


Sacred Heart will make the trip to Colorado to face Air Force.

QuarterfinalsEdit

The teams would have been reseeded for this round, if necessary.

The quarterfinals were a best-of-three round played at the home rinks of the top four seeds. The games took place on March 13 and 14, with the third game on March 15 where necessary.

In a reversal from 2008, when 4 of 5 quarterfinal series ended in two games, this year only Mercyhurst was able to muster a sweep. Nonetheless, the top seed prevailed in all four series, just like last year.

Sacred Heart at Air ForceEdit

Air Force broke a 3-3 tie late in the third to win a close game on home ice.

13 March 2009
Cadet Ice Arena – Colorado Springs, CO
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #1 Air Force 0 3 1 4
 #8 Sacred Heart 1 0 2 3


The second game was just bizarre. Air Force lost despite out-shooting the Pioneers 43-13 for the game. Andrew Volkening made only nine saves for the Falcons, while Stefan Drew made 42 for the visiting Pioneers. Air Force went 0-for-12 on the power play.

Even more bizarre, Sacred Heart was held without a shot on goal for the entire second period, yet they still scored in that period. Sacred Heart's Eric Giosa lost a faceoff deep in the Air Force zone, and Air Force's Greg Flynn misplayed the pass, backhanding the puck through Volkening's five-hole for the rare own-goal. Giosa was credited with a shot and the goal despite losing the faceoff.

14 March 2009
Cadet Ice Arena – Colorado Springs, CO
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #1 Air Force 0 1 0 1
 #8 Sacred Heart 2 1 1 4


Air Force shook off the previous night's everything-went-wrong loss, coming out with a huge chip on their collective shoulder to thoroughly demolish the Pioneers in the third game.

15 March 2009
Cadet Ice Arena – Colorado Springs, CO
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #1 Air Force 3 4 1 8
 #8 Sacred Heart 0 1 0 1


Air Force moves on and will face Bentley in the first semifinal.

Holy Cross at RITEdit

This was the second year in a row these two teams met in the quarterfinals. In 2008, RIT won two 5-4 overtime decisions, on the strength of consecutive hat tricks by senior Matt Smith.

RIT was the only home team in the quarterfinals to drop the first game of their series. RIT jumped out to an early lead, despite being outshot by the visiting Crusaders in the first period. The second period reversed the fortunes, as the Tigers poured on the shots but Holy Cross tied the score at 2. In the third, Holy Cross pulled away with two more goals. RIT pulled within one midway through the third, but Holy Cross got the empty-net goal in the final minute to ice the game. Holy Cross finished 3-for-6 on the power play; this was significant because of their previously weak record with the man advantage and RIT's strong record on the penalty kill.

This was the first win for Holy Cross against RIT since November 4, 1983 in the then-annual RIT Tournament. That was RIT's first year as a Division III program, after the NCAA discontinued Division II play. RIT had been 14-0-0 against the Crusaders in that span, including 10-0-0 since moving to Division I.

13 March 2009
Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena – Henrietta, NY
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #2 RIT 2 0 1 3
 #7 Holy Cross 0 2 3 5


In the second game, RIT was looking for revenge. RIT scored the only goal in the first period. In a wild second period, though, RIT would score only to be answered almost immediately by Holy Cross. The Crusaders pulled within one goal three times in the second, then once more in the third. Finally, the Tigers made their two-goal lead stick with a power play goal late in the third, pulling the series even at 1. Special teams were again important in this game, as each team had a short-handed goal.

14 March 2009
Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena – Henrietta, NY
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #2 RIT 1 3 2 6
 #7 Holy Cross 0 3 1 4


Both teams came out desperate to win the third game. The game started almost identically to the first game, with RIT jumping to a 2-0 lead after one, despite getting badly outshot by the Crusaders. (Although unlike in the first game, the first of those goals was scored shorthanded.) The second period started out very similar to the second game's second period, with Holy Cross pulling within one goal three times. They first did so in just the second minute of the period. Twice RIT re-established their two-goal lead, and twice Holy Cross scored less than a minute later to pull back within one.

After a violent hit on RIT senior netminder Louis Menard, the Tigers roared back for good, scoring on the ensuing power play, then twice more for a five-goal stanza and a four-goal lead. The eight total goals for that period are an Atlantic Hockey playoff record for scoring in a period.

To start the third, Holy Cross replaced goaltender Ian Dams with Adam Roy. RIT had a brief scare as Holy Cross pulled within 2, but RIT answered less than a minute later to re-establish their 3-goal lead. The Tigers iced the game with an empty-netter with one minute remaining.

The final score, with 14 goals scored between the two teams, is an Atlantic Hockey playoff record. The nine goals for RIT is the most they've ever scored at the Division I level, two more than their previous mark. The last time RIT scored at least nine goals was February 18, 2005, a 12-2 Division III win over the Lebanon Valley Flying Dutchmen.

15 March 2009
Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena – Henrietta, NY
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #2 RIT 2 5 2 9
 #7 Holy Cross 0 3 2 5


RIT advances to play Mercyhurst in the second semifinal.

Army at MercyhurstEdit

In 2008, Mercyhurst beat #1 seed Army during the Lakers' grueling championship weekend, which started with a win against Sacred Heart and finished with a double-overtime loss to Air Force in the championship game. Army was looking for revenge this year, but Mercyhurst was considered the clear favorite. Indeed, the Lakers prevailed in two games, the only team to do so in this round of the tournament.

13 March 2009
Mercyhurst Ice Center – Erie, PA
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #3 Mercyhurst 2 1 3 6
 #6 Army 1 0 1 2


14 March 2009
Mercyhurst Ice Center – Erie, PA
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #3 Mercyhurst 3 1 1 5
 #6 Army 0 0 0 0


Mercyhurst advances to face RIT in the second semifinal.

Canisius at BentleyEdit

13 March 2009
John A. Ryan Skating Arena – Waltham, MA
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #4 Bentley 2 2 2 6
 #5 Canisius 1 1 1 3


14 March 2009
John A. Ryan Skating Arena – Waltham, MA
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #4 Bentley 1 1 1 3
 #5 Canisius 3 2 2 7


In the deciding third game, Bentley scored just 14 seconds into the game. Canisius goaltender Andrew Loewen was chased midway through the second, but the score was already 4-1. Although his replacement Dan Morrison allowed no further goals, and Canisius poured on the shots in the third period, only one evaded Bentley netminder Joe Calvi, and Bentley won the series 2-1.

15 March 2009
John A. Ryan Skating Arena – Waltham, MA
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #4 Bentley 2 2 0 4
 #5 Canisius 1 0 1 2


Bentley advances to face Air Force in the first semifinal.

Semi-finalsEdit

The teams would have been reseeded for this round, if necessary.

Championship weekend was again held at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York. The semifinal games took place on Friday, March 20, with the winners meeting on Saturday, March 21. There was no consolation game.

Bentley vs. Air ForceEdit

This matchup guaranteed that the Falcons would play in the final—it was just a question of which Falcons.

Bentley played a good game but the Air Force team that went 13-0 to start the season was on full display here, making the previous week's embarrassing loss to Sacred Heart seem all the more like a fluke.

20 March 2009
Blue Cross Arena – Rochester, NY
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #1 Air Force 0 2 1 3
 #4 Bentley 0 0 0 0


Air Force moves on to face Mercyhurst in the final for the second year in a row.

Mercyhurst vs. RITEdit

RIT had earlier swept Mercyhurst at Ritter Arena in December. After that, plus a tie at Canisius and getting swept at Army, Mercyhurst looked to be in bad shape, but they came back to go 12-2-1 to finish the regular season. They then swept Army to prove that the earlier losses to the Black Knights meant nothing. They were out to prove the same thing about the RIT sweep, and then to avenge their loss to Air Force in last year's championship game.

After last year's 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Air Force, RIT was out to prove they can advance past the semifinal round, and then to get revenge against the Falcons. It was not to be, however, as Mercyhurst took advantage of nearly every miscue the Tigers made.

Mercyhurst opened the scoring with a fluky goal just 37 seconds in. An RIT player misplayed the puck behind his own net, and the puck squirted out in front to Laker Neil Graham, who banged it home past an unsuspecting Jared DeMichiel (who was making his first postseason start).

RIT appeared to take control with three unanswered goals extending into the second period (including two power play goals, one of them 5-on-3), but Mercyhurst took advantage of an unusually error-prone RIT penalty kill to even the score with a pair of man-advantage tallies.

In the third, both teams fought hard. Mercyhurst got another power play goal just 31 seconds in to take their first lead of the night. RIT tried for more than eighteen minutes to tie it up to no avail. Finally, just as DeMichiel reached the bench and the extra attacker arrived, freshman Cameron Burt got the equalizer with exactly one minute left to force overtime.

In overtime, DeMichiel made several acrobatic saves to withstand an early Laker flurry, only to be answered by Mercyhurst goalie Ryan Zapolski as RIT couldn't net the winner. Play then swung back into the RIT end and Chris Risi lifted the final goal just past DeMichiel's shoulder.

In seven postseason games since moving to Division I, RIT has never allowed fewer than four goals (although they have a 4-3 record in those games, including 2-1 in overtime). All four wins have come against Holy Cross.

20 March 2009
Blue Cross Arena – Rochester, NY
   
1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
 #2 RIT 1 2 1 0 4
 #3 Mercyhurst 1 2 1 1 5


FinalEdit

Mercyhurst vs. Air ForceEdit

This year's final was a rematch of the previous year's championship game, in which Air Force netted the winner shortly after the start of the second overtime. This year would not be as close; despite Mercyhurst's very high-powered offence, Air Force and Andrew Volkening extended their shutout streak to seven periods.

21 March 2009
Blue Cross Arena – Rochester, NY
 
1st 2nd 3rd Final
 #1 Air Force 1 1 0 2
 #3 Mercyhurst 0 0 0 0


Air Force captures its second straight Atlantic Hockey championship and the conference's autobid to the NCAA tournament.

All-Tournament TeamEdit

Cameron Burt RIT Freshman Forward
Matt Fairchild Air Force Junior Forward
Scott Pitt Mercyhurst Sophomore Forward
Greg Flynn Air Force Senior Defense
Scott Mathis Air Force Freshman Defense
Andrew Volkening Air Force Junior Goaltender

Matt Fairchild is the Tournament MVP.

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