Feb. 24, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

SHOWDOWN: The Atlantic Hockey Association race for the regular season title will be decided this weekend when the two first place teams – Air Force and RIT – will meet for their second series of the season on Feb. 27-28.
The two squads are tied with 40 points each in the standings.  The teams split the two-game series earlier this season at Air Force as the Falcons won the first night, 2-0, and RIT won the second night, 3-2 in overtime.

Air Force has posted a school-record with 22 Division I victories, and has recorded back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in school history. Jacques Lamoureux netted his 26th goal of the year against Holy Cross on Feb. 20 as he improved on his Division I-leading total.  His 21 goals in AHA play are the second-most in league history.

RIT enters the series on a five-game unbeaten streak after a 1-0-1 weekend at Army.  The Tigers have turned in a 15-1-1 mark over the last 17 games.  RIT is tied for second in Division I scoring average with 3.72 goals per game.  The Tigers need just one win to tie the Division I team record of 21 victories.

DEADLOCKED: Neither North Dakota or Denver faltered last weekend as the league’s two first-place squads hit the road for Western Collegiate Hockey Association action. Both teams have 33 points in the league standings, but North Dakota holds a one-game head-to-head advantage against the Pioneers.

UND stretched its winning streak to five games with a sweep of Alaska Anchorage, sparked by Chris VandeVelde’s hat trick in a 6-2 win on Feb. 21.  The Fighting Sioux, who have posted an 11-1-2 mark over the last 14 games, clinched home ice advantage for the first round of the WCHA playoffs with the win.

North Dakota travels to Colorado College on Feb. 28-March 1 in the regular season finale, while Denver hosts St. Cloud State to battle for the regular season crown this weekend.

TIGER TALES: Princeton’s Zane Kalemba garnered ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week for the second time in three weeks after allowing just one goal in a pair of victories last weekend for the Tigers’ first home league sweep of the season.

The junior from Saddle Brook, N.J., collected 25 saves in a 4-1 win over Brown on Feb. 20, and then stopped 31 shots in a 2-0 shutout of league-leading Yale the next day.  Kalemba improved his nation’s best goals against average to 1.58 and second-best save percentage to .939 with his play.

The Tigers jumped four spots to No. 6 in the latest USCHO.com/CBS College Sports Network Division I poll, and gained some ground on Yale in the league standings.  Princeton is only two points behind the Bulldogs with Dartmouth and Harvard remaining on the regular season schedule this weekend.

NOTABLE: Western Michigan senior forward Patrick Galivan was named Central Collegiate Hockey Association Offensive Player of the Week after extending his point scoring streak to 10 games in a series split against Lake Superior State last weekend.  The native of Oak Park, Ill., compiled three goals and one assist on the weekend, and has now scored a goal in five straight games … UMass Lowell freshman Michael Scheu netted his first two collegiate goals in a 3-3 tie against Vermont on Feb. 20 as the River Hawks posted a 1-0-1 record against the Catamounts last weekend.  The native of Buffalo, N.Y., has played only five games for UMass Lowell after joining the program in the second half of the season.  He was named Hockey East Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week for his contributions.