The AHL Atlantic standings are a thing to behold. With about 25 games in the bag, three teams are tied atop the points chart with 35. No other team in the AHL has more than 32 (Bridgeport and Syracuse) and 31 has Providence, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids.
Indeed some separation may be forthcoming, as we go head-to-head with increasing frequency. The Phantoms have only played Wilkes-Barre once, with the other eleven of our scheduled 12 meetings to occur after the calendars change to 2017. The Phantoms have two more tilts with Hershey this month, and will get another shot at Bridgeport at home on Wednesday.
But what else do you notice about the standings? Those top three teams tied with 35 points are all from Pennsylvania. Hershey is the traditional AHL power, and the Penguins have been the model of consistency having made the playoffs eight straight seasons and 11 of 13 (I think; I didn’t look it up.) This season, they’re joined by the upstart Phantoms who are combining talented prospects with proven AHL talent to win at a rate not seen from this franchise since the Philadelphia days.
But it’s not all about the AHL, you know…
In the NHL, your Flyers have won 9 straight–sometimes in dramatic fashion–to rise to third place in the Metropolitan division. But who are they tied with on points? That’s right, Penguins from Pittsburgh.
And down in the ECHL the Reading Royals have won 8 straight and have risen to third place in their division–just two points out of the top spot.
As der Eishockeyzuschauer noted earlier today, Penn State’s Division I hockey program is currently 13-1-1 and ranked third in the nation as they break for holiday tournaments. Certainly, they’re positioning themselves to make some noise as their Big 10 schedule takes off in earnest after the first of the year.
So that’s six hockey teams with designs on playoffs this season. That’s a lot of great hockey for a state that’s known more for growing quarterbacks and linebackers.
Pennsylvania hockey fans, enjoy!
See you at the arenas,