AIC clinches top seed in Atlantic Hockey postseason; will host tournament at MassMutual Center

The American International College men’s ice hockey team clinched the top position in the Atlantic Hockey Conference for the third consecutive season.

Quarterfinal games are scheduled for the MassMutual Center on March 12-14, 2021.

AIC’s position as the first team to finish with the best points percentage for three consecutive seasons is unprecedented in the history of Atlantic Hockey since the conference was founded in 2003.

The team is ranked sixteenth in the most recent United States College Hockey Online (USCHO) poll and fifteenth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.

“We are incredibly proud to be the first-ever AHA program to win three straight regular season championships,” said coach Eric Lang in a statement released by AIC. “It’s a testament to our players, administration, and support staff. This has been the toughest year by far. A lot of people put in a lot of work to make this season a success.

“Early in the year, we said the team that best handles the ups and downs of this pandemic will be best set up for success,” Lang added. “Our players’ perseverance, focus, and dedication has been second-to-none. After graduating ten seniors, we weren’t quite certain what we had. I feel our program is better and stronger than ever, as evidenced by our consistent ranking inside the top 15 in the country. When you look at the other institutions mentioned alongside AIC, it is quite gratifying. We believe we have a great opportunity at a potential NCAA berth.”

The Yellow Jackets have had a couple impressive victories this season: a comeback at Army West Point with the team scoring twice in the final two minutes of regulation play and going on to win the game in extra time; an 8-2 defeat of Sacred Heart University; and a trio of shutout wins against in-state rival College of the Holy Cross that included a 6-0 victory in Worcester.

Depending on results of a single game, play-in round held March 6-7, AIC will host either Bentley University, Holy Cross, or the Air Force Academy in the quarterfinal. The Yellow Jackets have a combined 7-0-0-0 against those three teams this season, including 5-0-0-0 at home.

The Yellow Jackets played in its first NCAA Tournament last season and advanced all the way to the West Regional Final before falling to Denver. The team made a name for itself nationally with its regional semifinal win over St. Cloud State, a game which quickly made its way onto lists of biggest upsets in college hockey history.