Two-game set for Ice Griffs against Sacred Heart could determine playoff seeding
By: Jay Ashdown
Just rack up the points. That’s the mantra the Griffs should have this weekend against Sacred Heart. In what will be arguably the most important regular-season series for the Griffs, they take on the third-place team in the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) with a two-point lead on the Pioneers in the standings race.
This season has been an unusual one in terms of the standings for the conference. Leading the way — as they have for the last several years — is AIC, who has the conference one seed virtually locked up. It would take a monumental, historical, absurd collapse for AIC to not take home the one seed as well as the AHA regular season title. With four games remaining, the Yellow Jackets would have to lose their next four games in regulation, while Canisius would have to win their four remaining games in regulation as well. It just isn’t going to happen.
While the Ice Griffs won’t lock up the No. 1 seed, they still have a great shot at locking up the No. 2 seed. The Griffs have 37 points in 22 games, while Sacred Heart has 35 in as many games. Every team has played 22 games, so every team has four games remaining. Behind Sacred Heart is Army in 4th with 34 points. There’s a two-way tie for fifth between RIT and Niagara, and seventh place is currently being held by Bentley with 31 points. Air Force is in eighth with 30 points, while Canisius’s final series opponent Mercyhurst is in ninth place with 27 points. All the way in dead last is Holy Cross with 24 points.
With all of this in mind, getting points this weekend is crucial for Canisius, because next weekend they can really steal some significant points away from the second-to-last team in the conference. One of the main reasons this season has been so hectic is because of how many splits there have been between teams not named AIC. In their 11 series so far this season, Canisius only has one complete six-point sweep, coming all the way back in November against RIT. Canisius has not been completely swept once this season, as they have earned at least one point in every single one of their series this season.
The reason this weekend is so crucial is because Canisius is three points, or one full regulation win, ahead of Army at this point. The Black Knights will play their weekend series against last-place Holy Cross, and a complete sweep from Army would put them three points ahead of Canisius as we stand currently. If Canisius can pull off a split, the two teams would be tied for second place at 40 points each. And with that, Canisius would have a chance to pull ahead because they’d be taking on ninth-place Mercyhurst, while Army would have to take on a strong Sacred Heart team.
If the Griffs can just manage to split with Sacred Heart, they could find a way to lock up the No. 2 seed in the conference. This team has found a way to get points in every series so far this season, and they’ll need to do it again, because the stakes have never been higher.