Lakers remain No. 1 as conference playoffs begin

For the second consecutive week, the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team holds the top spot in the latest Men’s Ice Hockey Poll released on Monday. The Lakers garnered a total of 296 points and 16 of a possible 20 first-place votes after a pair of 3-0 victories over the weekend against SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Potsdam to close out the regular season. Oswego State finishes the season unbeaten in conference play at 14-0-2 and was the only team to amass the 21-win threshold, finishing 21-2-2 overall. The Lakers clinched home ice throughout the SUNYAC playoffs after defeating archrival Plattsburgh on Friday night and will host a SUNYAC semifinal game on Saturday night at the Campus Center Ice Arena. The Lakers will face either SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Fredonia, or Potsdam, who each have to play in the SUNYAC quarterfinal round on Wednesday night.

Norwich (No. 2), Amherst (No. 3) and Plattsburgh (No. 4) all remained in the same spot as a week ago. Norwich won its 20th game of the season after defeating Massachusetts-Boston, 3-1, on Friday night before tying Babson College on Saturday night to close out the regular season. Norwich received two first-place votes. The Cadets have home ice advantage throughout the ECAC East playoffs, finishing 15-2-1 in conference play. Norwich will host the University of New England on Saturday night. The University of New England finished last in conference play at 2-16-0. Amherst was the third and final team to reach 20 wins this season, closing out the regular season on an eight-game winning streak after defeating Williams and Middlebury over the weekend. Amherst received the final two first-place votes. They have home ice advantage in the NESCAC playoffs and will host Hamilton College on Saturday night. Plattsburgh struggled over the weekend, but managed to walk away with an overtime victory over SUNY Cortland after being shut out the night before at Oswego State. The Cardinals clinched the No. 2 seed in the SUNYAC playoffs and will host either Buffalo State, Geneseo or Fredonia on Saturday night in the SUNYAC semifinal. St. Norbert moved up one spot into the top five after having the weekend off while the NCHA playoffs began. The Green Knights have home ice advantage in the playoffs and will host Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Saturday night.

St. Thomas dropped out of the top five and sit at No. 6 this week. St. Thomas split a weekend series with Augsburg, but had clinched the No. 1 seed in the MIAC playoffs the weekend prior. They will host either Hamline of St. Olaf on Saturday night. Adrian moved up one spot to No. 7, jumping over No. 8 Castleton. The Bulldogs swept a crucial weekend series over Finlandia to capture the MCHA regular season title and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Adrian will play either Finlandia, Lawrence or Lake Forest on Saturday night. Elmira jumped up two spots to No. 9, defeating Utica College on Friday and tying Neumann on Sunday. The Soaring Eagles clinched home ice in the ECAC West playoffs and host either Neumann or Utica on Saturday. The winner of the ECAC West does not receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Milwaukee School of Engineering remained at No. 10 to round out the top 10 and will serve as the No. 2 seed in the MIAC playoffs, hosting Lake Forest in the opening round.

St. Scholatica moved up one spot to No. 11 and Bowdoin moved up two spots to No. 12. St. Scholastica advanced to the second round of the NCHA playoffs after defeating Wisconsin-Stout in overtime and will now play Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Bowdoin finished second in the NESCAC behind Amherst and will play Tufts on Saturday afternoon. Wisconsin-River Falls had the toughest weekend, dropping four spots to No. 13. Gustavus Adolphus (No. 14) and Utica College (No. 15) round out the top 15.

Other teams receiving votes into the top 15 were Neumann, Wentworth, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Middlebury, Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Williams, Manhattanville and Plymouth State. Men’s Poll (Feb. 20, 2012)

1. Oswego State (16)

2. Norwich (2)

3. Amherst (2)

4. Plattsburgh

5. St. Norbert

6. St. Thomas

7. Adrian

8. Castleton

9. Elmira

10. Wisconsin School of Engineering

11. St. Scholastica

12. Bowdoin

13. Wisconsin-River Falls

14. Gustavus Adolphus

15. Utica

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