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Championship Saturday: Air Force, Robert Morris vie for Atlantic Hockey title

March 18, 2017 Updated: March 18, 2017 at 11:17 am
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No. 17 Air Force and fourth-seeded Robert Morris battle for the Atlantic Hockey Conference championship and automatic NCAA Tournament berth at 5 p.m. Mountain Saturday at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.

Please check back closer to game time for an updated live blog with lines, a pregame interview along with a FB live preview on the Gazette Sports Facebook page facebook.com/gazsports.

Here are the stakes:

Air Force must win tonight’s game to garner the NCAA automatic qualifier. A loss to the unranked Colonials on neutral ice would drop the Falcons out of the top 14 in the Pairwise rankings with the final available spots going to automatic qualifiers from the WCHA (Bowling Green or Michigan Tech) and Robert Morris.

The College Hockey News probability matrix gives Air Force a 61 percent chance of making the tourney as the league playoffs champ with no chance as an at-large team.

If they win, Air Force could be a No. 3 seed in one of the four regionals (Fargo, Cincinnati, Providence, Manchester, N.H.) next weekend.  If RMU wins, they would be a fourth seed.

The NCAA Selection Show starts at 10 a.m. Mountain on ESPNU.

Here are updated capsules on each team:

No. 2 seed Air Force (25-9-5)

National ranking: No. 17

Leaders: Jordan Himley, Jr., F, 31 points (19 goals); Kyle Haak, So., F, 30 (18 assists); Evan Giesler, So. F., 29 (11 goals); Phil Boje, Jr., D, 28 (20 assists); Evan Feno, So., F, 25 (18 assists); Shane Starrett, So., G, 24-5-4, 1.92 goals against, .927 saves percentage.

Record vs this season.: 1-1.

Ice chips: Fourteen Falcons have 12 or more points this season … Air Force has Division 1’s best penalty kill (89.8 percent). … Air Force is 21-1-3 when scoring three goals or more. … Friday was the fourth postseason meeting between AFA and Army with the Falcons at 4-0, including the 2007 AHC title win that sent AFA (29-10 all-time AHC playoffs) to the NCAAs for the first time.

No. 4 Robert Morris (22-11-4)

National ranking: na

Leaders: Brady Ferguson, Jr., F, 58 points (24 goals); Daniel Leavens, Sr., F, 49 (35 assists); Alex Tonge, So., F, 44 (20 goals); Eric Israel, So., D, 29 (21 assists); Timmy Moore, Jr., F, 25 points (15 goals); Francis Marotte, Fr., G, 17-7-3, 2.08 goals against, .932 saves percentage.

Record vs. this season: 1-1.

Ice chips: Ferguson recorded 51 of his 55 points in AHC play to be the league scoring champion. … Leavens was second in conference play (34 points). … Israel was named to the AHC third team while Marotte made the all-rookie team.

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