Click here to read the Pre-season Coaches Poll (doc).
HAVERHILL, Mass. — The Atlantic Hockey Association pre-season coaches’ poll is in, and after its first NCAA Tournament appearance representing Atlantic Hockey, Niagara ranks in as the top pick by the coaches. Last season’s regular season champ received three (3) first place votes and totaled 102 points overall.
Air Force (two (2) first place votes) and Mercyhurst (four (4) first place votes) were deadlocked in the No. 2 spot by the coaches tallying 98 points each.
After its first Atlantic Hockey Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance last season, Canisius grabbed three (3) first place votes and finished in fourth place with 92 points.
RIT finished in fifth place with 81 points, while Connecticut follows in sixth with 79 points. Robert Morris came in seventh (66 points), Holy Cross was chosen eighth with 59 points, with Bentley coming in ninth with 53 points. Army (28 points), American International (22 points), and Sacred Heart (16 points) round out the final three spots in the poll.
Niagara kicks off the Atlantic Hockey regular season on Saturday, October 5 as it hosts Clarkson at home. Holy Cross will host Simon Fraser in an exhibition contest on Saturday, while RIT will also play on Saturday as the Tigers host Queen’s in an exhibition match-up.
The 2013 Atlantic Hockey Tournament will feature the same format from last year. The top four teams receive a bye into the Quarterfinals with seeds 5-8 hosting seeds 9-12 in a best two-out-of-three First Round series starting Friday, March 7. 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 14. 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 21. The two semifinal winners will then face-off in the Championship game on Saturday, March 22 with the NCAA automatic berth on the line.
The Atlantic Hockey Association arose when nine institutions joined together on June 30, 2003, to form a new Division-I men’s ice hockey conference. The league currently consists of twelve members: Air Force Academy, American International College, Army, Bentley University, Canisius College, the University of Connecticut, the College of the Holy Cross, Mercyhurst University, Niagara University, Robert Morris University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Sacred Heart University.
2. Mercyhurst (4) 98
Air Force (2) 98
4. Canisius (3) 92
5. RIT 81
6. Connecticut 79
7. Robert Morris 66
8. Holy Cross 59
9. Bentley 53
10. Army 28
11. American International 22
12. Sacred Heart 16
(First Place votes)