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2019 NCAA Tournament West Regional Preview: American International

Regular season: 22-16-1, 17-9-1 AHA. Won regular-season title, won conference tournament championship game 3-2 over Niagara in overtime.

How they got here: Automatic bid by virtue of winning conference tournament. #4 seed in the West Regional and #16 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Impact players:

Junior forward Blake Christensen, 46 points (16 goals).

Sophomore forward Tobias Fladeby, 25 points (18 goals).

Sophomore defenseman Brennan Kapcheck, 24 points (4 goals).

Junior goaltender Zackarias Skog, 19-13-0 record, 2.75 GAA, .896 save percentage.

The rundown: There’s no reason American International College shouldn’t be rolling into their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance with a ton of confidence after taking both the Atlantic Hockey regular-season and tournament championships. What should be noted, however, is AIC’s 0-6 record against NCAA Tournament teams this year, which actually made up their entire nonconference schedule. The Yellow Jackets know they’re in for a tough challenge against a St. Cloud State team looking to put last year’s bad memory behind them. Head coach Eric Lang sees some similarities in the two teams’ playing styles.

“Outside of all their NHL potential, we actually play similar games. We’re a counterattack-based hockey team, and we want to get up and go in transition. That’s an unbelievable strength of theirs,” Lang said.