Here they go again.
For the second weekend in a row, matchups between the top four teams in the Atlantic Hockey standings highlight the weekend schedule.
This week’s pairings have No. 1 Mercyhurst at Air Force, which is tied for fourth in the standings with Robert Morris, and No. 2 Bentley squaring off with No. 3 Connecticut in a home-and-home series.
Mercyhurst, led by junior goalie Jordan Tibbett, took three points at home from Bentley last weekend with a 2-2 tie and 4-1 win and tightened its hold on first place. The Lakers are four points up on Bentley.
Bentley’s edge on UConn, in turn, shrunk to a single point. UConn split its series at Air Force.
Robert Morris beat Army twice last weekend to run its winning streak to five straight games and move into the upper echelon of the league.
With four weekends left in the regular season, those five teams – Mercyhurst, Bentley, UConn, Air Force and Robert Morris – are the frontrunners for the byes that go to the top four spots in the standings.
Mercyhurst and Air Force both hope to have goalies return from injury this weekend.
Laker junior Jimmy Sarjeant missed last weekend’s games with an undisclosed injury. Tibbett struggled when he came on to replace Sarjeant mid-game the week before, but shined in his two starts against Bentley.
Air Force senior Jeff Torf has been out since late December and hopes to play one of the games against Mercyhurst.
Bentley and UConn square off in Storrs on Friday night and in Waltham on Saturday.
The series pits the two teams with the best defensive numbers in the league. UConn has a goals-against average of 2.37 to lead the league and Bentley is next at 2.43.
The Falcons lead Atlantic Hockey at 3.35 goals scored a game and have four of the top 10 scorers in the league. UConn is eighth at 2.60.
Two of the Bentley standouts this week were named finalists for the Walter Brown Award that goes to the best American born player in New England.
Senior forward Brett Gensler, who became the first Atlantic Hockey winner of the award as a sophomore, is joined as a finalist by junior defenseman Steve Weinstein. Gensler has a 15-game point streak and is at 17-20-37 for the season. Weinstein leads the nation’s defensemen in scoring at 1-31-32.
Gensler, from St. Charles, Mo., and Weinstein, who lives in Los Angeles, were the only two Atlantic Hockey players among the finalists.
Player of the Week
Jordan Tibbett, jr., G, Mercyhurst
Tibbett picked up a 2-2 tie and a 4-1 win to lead Mercyhurst to a three-point weekend against Bentley in a first-place showdown. The Saturday win was the first of the season for Tibbett.
Games of the week
Bentley at UConn Friday, UConn at Bentley Saturday
The second-place Falcons hold down a one-point lead over the Huskies. Bentley beat UConn, 3-0, in Storrs on Nov. 15. UConn is up a couple of points on Air Force and Robert Morris, who are tied for third.
Mercyhurst (15-10-5, 13-2-4) . . . The Lakers picked up three points against Bentley to increase their first-place lead to four points over the Falcons. Mercyhurst plays at Air Force this weekend. The Lakers beat Air Force, 8-2, in Erie earlier in the year.
Bentley (13-9-4, 11-4-4) . . . Senior forward Brett Gensler extended his point-scoring streak to 15 games and is 14-16-30 in that stretch. The Falcons meet UConn for a home-and-home series this weekend.
UConn (13-8-4, 11-5-3) . . . Freshman goalie Robby Nichols made 40 saves in a 5-3 win at Air Force on Friday to up his record to 4-0-2. UConn plays Bentley at home on Friday and the teams meet Saturday at Bentley.
Air Force (15-9-4, 10-6-3) . . . The Falcons split a pair of games at home with UConn and have first-place Mercyhurst in this weekend. Senior goalie Jason Torf, who has been out since suffering a groin injury on Dec. 30, may return to action this weekend.
Robert Morris (10-13-3, 10-6-3) . . . The Colonials extended their winning streak to five games with 4-0 and 5-3 wins over Army. Robert Morris has pulled into a fourth place tie with Air Force. The Colonials are at RIT on Friday and Saturday.
Canisius (10-14-2, 9-8-2) . . . The Golden Griffins split a pair of games with AIC, winning 4-1 on Friday and losing 4-3 on Saturday. Canisius is at Niagara on Thursday night and the teams meet again Saturday at Canisius.
Niagara (8-15-3, 8-8-3) . . . Freshman Jackson Teichroeb stopped 27 of 28 shots to lead the Purple Eagles to a bounce-back 4-1 win at Sacred Heart on Saturday. Sacred Heart won Friday night’s game, 4-3.
RIT (8-14-4, 7-10-2) . . . The Tigers managed only a single point in a series against Holy Cross. They were 4-for-7 on the power play for the weekend and are third in the nation in power play percentage at 24.3.
Holy Cross (7-16-3, 6-10-3) . . . Senior forward Adam Schmidt hit the career 100-point mark with his second goal of the game in a 4-2 win at RIT on Saturday. He’s at 46-54-100. Junior forward Tommy Dwyer (Ridgefield, Conn.) is 4-2-6 in the last six games.
AIC (7-18-1, 6-12-1) . . . AIC rebounded from a 4-1 loss at home against Canisius to beat the Golden Griffins, 5-3, on Saturday. Freshman forward Dan Clairmont had one goal in his first 17 games and two on Saturday.
Sacred Heart (7-19-0, 6-13-0) . . . Freshman defenseman Mitch Nylen scored with .9 seconds left to give the Pioneers a 4-3 win on Friday, their first over Niagara in 11 attempts. Sacred Heart plays a home-and-home series against Holy Cross at home on Friday and is at Holy Cross on Saturday.
Army (3-20-0, 3-16-0) . . . On Saturday, the Black Knights rallied from a 3-0 first-period deficit to tie Robert Morris 4-4 on a late third-period goal by junior forward Josh Richards (Lee, N.H.). But the Colonials answered with two goals for a 6-4 win.