No. 6 Mercyhurst (18-16-5) vs. No. 4 Connecticut (19-13-4)
When: Friday, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Blue Cross Arena – Rochester, N.Y.
On the air: www.americaonesports.com (live stream), WMCE-FM/88.5 & wmce.mercyhurst.edu (radio), www.atlantichockeyonline.com (live scores)
Up next: Championship game (Saturday, 7:05 p.m. at Blue Cross Arena)*
What to expect: Mercyhurst has reached the Atlantic Hockey Association semifinals for the second straight season. The Lakers lost to eventual champion Air Force 5-2 in this round a season ago. … The Lakers rebounded from an eight-game winless streak with a sweep of 11th-seeded Army at Mercyhurst Ice Center two weeks ago and a series win at No. 3 Holy Cross last weekend. … Mercyhurst hasn’t reached the title game since consecutive trips in 2008 and 2009 (lost to Air Force both times). … The Lakers haven’t won an AHA championship since beating Quinnipiac 3-2 in the 2005 title game. They also beat Quinnipiac 6-5 to capture the 2001 title, when the league was known as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. … Mercyhurst and UConn split their two-game, regular-season series in Storrs, Conn., with the Lakers losing 5-4 Jan. 18 and winning 5-0 the following night. … The Lakers lead the all-time series 32-13-3. Yet they have lost three straight and four of six games against the Huskies in the postseason, including a UConn sweep in the 2011 AHA quarterfinals. … With top-seeded and 15th-ranked Niagara (23-8-5) facing seventh-seeded Canisius (17-18-5) in the other semifinal, the conference will have a champion from a school other than Air Force and Rochester Institute of Technology for the first time since Holy Cross in 2006. Air Force, which lost to Canisius in the quarterfinals, had won five of the last six titles (2007-09, 2011-12). RIT, which lost to Niagara in the quarterfinals, won in 2010 on the way to the first NCAA Division I Frozen Four appearance for the Tigers and the AHA. … Senior F Grant Blakey has five goals and seven points in the Lakers’ five playoff games. … UConn senior G Matt Grogan has a 14-3-3 record, 1.88 goals-against average and .939 save percentage since taking over as starter midway through the season. He was the Huskies’ only player to earn all-conference honors (third team). Mercyhurst features three all-stars – junior D Nick Jones (first team), sophomore F Ryan Misiak (second) and sophomore F Matthew Zay (third). … Niagara has never reached the title game. Canisius hasn’t reached the final since 1999 (lost 4-3 to Holy Cross). … Niagara junior G Carson Chubak leads the nation with six shutouts and ranks among the top five in winning percentage (.773), goals-against average (1.81) and save percentage (.941). He’s one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which honors the nation’s top men’s hockey player. … Freshman F Ralph Cuddemi, a former Erie Otters draft pick, has two goals and seven points in 34 games for Canisius.
* If the Lakers win tonight
– Victor Fernandes
Atlantic Hockey Association final four schedule
at Blue Cross Arena – Rochester, N.Y.
Semifinals – Friday
No. 1 Niagara (23-8-5) vs. No. 7 Canisius (17-18-5), 4:05 p.m.
No. 4 Connecticut (19-13-4) vs. No. 6 Mercyhurst (18-16-5), 7:05 p.m.
Championship game – Saturday
Semifinal winners, 7:05 p.m.
Note: Champion earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I tournament.