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HAVERHILL, Mass. -- The Atlantic Hockey Association coaches have voted who they believe will take the regular season crown for the 2011-12 season. Last year’s regular season and tournament champions, RIT is the top pick in this years preseason poll for the second straight season. The Tigers collected eight (5) first place votes en route to 113 total points. RIT took home the regular season crown for the 2010-11 season, but fell in the Atlantic Hockey Championship contest to Air Force, which is the coaches second place squad with 112 points and five (5) first place votes.
Holy Cross, which made its first trip to the Blue Cross Arena last season, was chosen third by the coaches garnering 103 points and the final two (2) first place votes. Niagara comes in fourth with 89 points and rounding out the top five is Connecticut with 79 points. Rounding out the top half of the standings is Robert Morris in sixth place with 70 points.
The bottom half of the standings looks like this with Mercyhurst in seventh with 59 points, Army in eighth with 51 points, Canisius is ninth with 42 points, Bentley is tenth with 41 points, Sacred Heart was picked 11th with 20 points and rounding out the 2011-12 Pre-season Coaches Poll is American International in 12th with 13 points.
The 2011-12 season opens up on Saturday, October 1 with five exhibition contests. Niagara will host Queens, Robert Morris hosts York, Brock will take on RIT, Ryerson will travel to face Connecticut and Air Force will play Simon Fraser in Wenatchee, Wash. The first regular season contest will see Niagara traveling to Ann Arbor, Mich. on Tuesday, October 4 to take on last season’s National Runner-up, Michigan. Niagara and RIT will face one another on Saturday, October 8 in Rochester, N.Y. to start the Atlantic Hockey conference schedule.
The 2012 Atlantic Hockey Tournament will feature yet another format. This year the top four teams receive a bye into the Quarterfinal round with seeds 5-8 hosting seeds 9-12 in a best two-out-of-three weekend series starting Friday, March 2. The First Round winners will then be re-seeded and travel to the top four seeds for a best-two-out-of-three Quarterfinal series, which will begin on Friday, March 9. The four winners will then travel to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. with the highest remaining seed facing the lowest remaining seed in the first semifinal, with the other two remaining seeds facing off in the second semifinal on Friday, March 16. The two semifinal winners will then face-off in the Championship game on Saturday, March 17 with the NCAA automatic berth on the line.
2011-12 Atlantic Hockey Association Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Rochester Instit. of Technology (5) 113
2. Air Force (5) 112
3. Holy Cross (2) 103
4. Niagara 89
5. Connecticut 79
6. Robert Morris 70
7. Mercyhurst 59
8. Army 51
9. Canisius 42
10. Bentley 41
11. Sacred Heart 20
12. American International 13
(First Place votes)