Men's hockey stays in the hunt

In Atlantic Hockey play this past weekend, the Mercyhurst College Lakers split a two-game series with the Bentley University Falcons at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.

With the win and loss, the Lakers are still sitting in third place in the Atlantic Hockey standings with 26 points, behind the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Air Force Academy.

Sitting in third place, and despite the recent slide, Mercyhurst is still proving itself to be a contender for Atlantic Hockey’s top spot this season.

The team’s success may be attributed to many things, including strong goaltending by senior Erie native Ryan Zapolski. He leads Atlantic Hockey in number of saves, with 768. He also ranks second in save percentage, at .915.

Mercyhurst College junior assistant captain Neil Graham made one of the Lakers’ two goals in their 4-2 loss to Bentley UniversitMercyhurst College junior assistant captain Neil Graham made one of the Lakers’ two goals in their 4-2 loss to Bentley University last Friday.Another component of the team’s success has been the balanced offensive contributions by the team. Several players have amassed double-digit points, as well as near-even numbers in goals scored. Junior Brandon Coccimiglio leads Mercyhurst with 14 goals, while junior Steve Cameron has netted 10 and junior Mike Gurtler is third on the team with eight goals. Several players have between five and seven goals, as well.

In F

riday’s game, the Lakers fell to the Falcons, 4-2, snapping a winning streak on home ice that had been intact since November. After two periods, Mercyhurst led, 2-1. However, Bentley’s 3-goal surge in the third period proved too much for Mercyhurst.

The Lakers got revenge and doubled up Bentley in a 6-3 win on Saturday powered by senior Nick Vandenbeld’s first career hat trick.

Mercyhurst takes a break this upcoming weekend and travels west during the first weekend in February to take on No. 3 Denver University and No. 11 University of Colorado at Boulder.

These games will be by far the toughest tests the Lakers have faced all year.

“We certainly know how good both Denver and Colorado College are. Our preparation really comes down to our overall game. We need to be able to do the things that make us a good team, so we are working on all of those aspects,” Coach Rick Gotkin said.