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BNRinkside: Tales from a one-bid league

There will be a new champion crowned in Atlantic Hockey Saturday night after Mercyhurst ousted top seed Robert Morris.

The Lakers meet RIT for the title and ensuing automatic berth in the NCAA tournament in Blue Cross Arena Saturday night.

That means the season is over for Robert Morris. The NCAA men's hockey at-large field is chosen solely on the PairWise formula. Robert Morris has no chance to make the numbers cut. So despite being ranked in the national top 20 for much of the season and setting a program record with a 24-8-5 record, the Colonials are packing up their equipment and figuring out their off-season plans.

Only once has Atlantic Hockey had two teams in the NCAAs -- in 2013 when Niagara's PairWise rating earned them an at-large bid after Canisius took the tourney title.

RIT coach Wayne Wilson said the nature of the one-bid league creates a different dynamic to the conference tournament.

"Our league for the most part, with the exception of one year, only team is going. There’s pressure with that," Wilson said after the Tigers ousted Canisius, 2-1, in Friday's semifinal.

"All of a sudden, Robert Morris has had an outstanding year. They would be very deserving in going on to the NCAA but the PairWise doesn’t work out that way for them. That’s a lot of pressure for them because all their accomplishments all year have been wiped out. It doesn’t matter. Congratulations. Here’s your trophy. You finished first but if you lose you’re not going to the NCAA. So there’s just a little different dynamic in that. You’re talking about student-athletes not 10-year pros who are maybe a little bit more prepared for that. And you’re playing against good competition on top of that."

Other semifinal notes:
*Friday's attendance of 3,525 at Blue Cross Arena was the second most for the tournament semifinals since the event moved to Rochester in 2007.
*Canisius has lost its last six postseason games to the Tigers dating back to the schools’ Division III rivalry, including two in Atlantic Hockey Semifinals.
*Shane Conacher had 60 points in his first two seasons with the Griffs, tied with Josh Heidinger for the second most in school history (David Deeves had 62 points in his first two years).
*Keegan Asmundson finished the season with school records in goals against average (1.96) and save percentage (.930).
*The tributes to the Griffs 10-member senior class started coming in on Twitter Saturday morning:
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