Army – The 2013-2014 season could not be going much worse for the Army Black Knights who are currently sporting a 3-20 record. Unfortunately for Williamsville, NY native Parker Gahagen, avoiding the Black Nights poor play is easier said than done. Gahagen, a 6’3″ 195 lb goaltender with loads of talent brought his game to West Point beginning this season and has made 6 appearances while starting two games but has yet to find his first win. He is 0-3 with a 4.67 GAA & .883 SVG %. Gahagen was an a standout in net for the Buffalo Junior Sabres Jr A squad last season and his numbers this year are more indicative of the poor season his team is having than of his own play. He will see more time in the future and there is little doubt his numbers will get better as he stabilizes the Black Knights goaltending situation, and hopefully the teams fortunes as well.
Bentley – The Bentley Falcons may be one of the biggest surprises of not only the Atlantic Hockey season but all of NCAA Division I Hockey thus far. Success is quite new for Bentley as they have been one of the weaker teams in both Atlantic & NCAA Hockey for much of the last ten years. That is no longer the case. The Falcons currently sit 13-9-4 overall with an AHA record of 11-4-4, good enough for second place in the conference. More importantly, the Falcons received 7 votes in the January 27th USCHO Division 1 Men’s Poll, 4 votes ahead of Air Force and a full 5 votes in front of AHA leading Mercyhurst. Senior goaltender and Williamsville, NY native Branden Komm leads the way for the Falcons starting 26 of 26 games while playing all but 22 min and 52 seconds of the Falcons season thus far. Komm currently holds a 13-8-4 record with a 2.36 GAA & .927 SVG %. Look for Bentley to be a serious contender when the AHA Conference Tournament takes place this March at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY.
Canisius – The Golden Griffins had quite the run last season, winning the AHA Conference Tournament and earning a berth as one of only 16 teams in the NCAA Division 1 Hockey Tournament. Although Canisius lost to NCAA Runner Up Quinnipiac in the first round, they held on for much of the first two periods proving yet again that AHA teams can do much more than just “compete” with the best teams in country. Canisius has been struggling a bit this season with a 10-14-2 record overall and an AHA record of 9-8-2. Senior Patrick Sullivan of Derby, NY is currently 4th on the team with 8G & 7A for 15 points in 26 games for the Griffs. Canisius offense will likely be aided next season by two incoming freshman recruits from East Amhert, NY. Ryan Schmelzer & Nolan Sheran of the Buffalo Junior Sabres Jr. A program will bring leadership & character along with their impressive offensive play to Canisius next season.
Niagara – The Niagara Purple Eagles lost in the AHA Conference Finals to Canisius last season. Fortunately for Niagara, the loss did not prevent them from a berth in the NCAA Division 1 Hockey Tournament, as they managed to secure one of just 11 at large bids, becoming the first team in AHA history to make it to the postseason without winning the league title. The 2013-2014 season has not gone as well for Niagara as they sit currently with a 8-15-3 overall record. With just an 8-8-3 mark in conference play, the Purple Eagles find themselves 7th overall in the conference. One of the few bright spots for the team has been the outstanding play of hometown standout Vince Muto. The Freshman defenseman is a Niagara Falls, NY native who played 54 games last season for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. With 3G & 10A for 13 points in 23 games, Muto is currently 5th on the team in overall scoring and first among Niagara defensemen.
R.I.T - The 2103-2014 season has also seen the Tigers take a step back. With a 8-14-4 overall record and just a 7-10-2 mark in AHA play, R.I.T. finds themselves in unfamiliar waters. Since joining NCAA Division 1 play full time in 2007-2008, coach Wayne Wilson led his team to three straight AHA finals from ’09-’10 to ’11-’12. During the ’09-’10 season, the Tigers not only captured the AHA Conference title, but proceeded to upset two nationally ranked teams in Denver & New Hampshire on the way to the Frozen Four before falling to perennial powerhouse Wisconsin. The Tigers wildly successful season led to Coach Wayne Wilson winning the Spencer Penrose Award, an honor given out annually by the American Hockey Coaches Association to the top coach in NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey. Despite the Tigers recent struggles there are a few bright spots on the team. Local products Dan Schuler, Mike Rotolo and Garrett McMullen give R.I.T. fans a reason to look forward to the future. Schuler, a sophomore forward from Webster, NY is currently 4th on the team in scoring with 10G & 7A for 17 points in 23 games. Freshman forward, and Churchville, NY native Garrett McMullen has made the best of his icetime in his first year tallying 3G & 2A for 5 points in limited time over 13 games. The most impressive player thus far for R.I.T. may actually be freshman goaltender Mike Rotolo, a native of Greece, NY. Rotolo has played exceptionally well thus far in the ’13-’14 season and has almost certainly solidified himself as the Tigers goaltender of the future while making a strong case for being the goaltender of the present. Rotolo has outplayed junior netminder Jordan Ruby for much of the season despite playing 4 fewer games.
Robert Morris – Currently sitting at 10-13-3 overall, The Robert Morris University Colonials have enjoyed a fair amount of success so far in the ’13-’14 AHA season posting a 10-6-3 record in conference play. Helped in large part by the efforts of sophomore goaltender, and Penfield, NY native Terry Shafer, Robert Morris finds themselves tied for 4th overall in the AHA. With the season quickly drawing to a close, Shafer and his Colonials are in good position for the AHA Tournament in March should the keep up their current play. Shafer is the only goaltender to register a win for the Colonials and has played nearly 95% of the teams minutes in net.