Here is a quick primer on how the ACHA championship tournament bracket is set up.
The winners of the big 6 league regular season championships are all have their ticket punched. Then the host school, this year it's John Carroll.
Then the rest of the spots are filled with the top 20 teams. Usually this means #'s 1-20 all make it as the league champions typically end up ranked in that group.
Some years however a regular season champ ends up outside of the top 20 and the teams sitting at the bottom of the top 20 lose their spot. Factor in John Carroll being outside of the top 20 and suddenly it's looking like #20 and #19 may be left home.
Why is this important?
Right now in this still young hockey season UB is ranked #19 in the nation. They won their last two games by a combined score of 20-2 but the Bulls ranking did not change because Ithaca and RIT are terrible programs.
UB has a bunch of teams ranked 20-25 on their schedule but as of this date the highest ranked program that the Bulls will face is Rhode Island. The Rams are ranked 15th in the ACHA and this is a road game which might also have an impact on poll voters. Winning or splitting this series could go a long way towards moving UB up a few spots in the next ACHA release.
The Rams recently split with #3 Stony Brook, taking their first game 5-1 and getting shut out in game two by a score of 3-0. The loss to the Seawolves stands as their only loss.
Rhode Island is led by Robbie Buehrer on the ice. Through five games this season the forward from Scituate has seven goals and one assist. His goal against Stony Brook turned out to be the game winner. In net UB will face Andrew Sherman. He has played 5 of the six Rhode Island games giving up six goals.
The Bulls will probably split games between goalies Tyler Stark and Dylan Arnold in net as they have most weeks this year. For offense UB has a lot of weapons to chose from but Michael Schalberg has been Buffalo's most consistent goal scorer while Brenden Robinson has been handing out the assist, leading UB in scoring.
The puck drops at 7:00 Friday but if you want to follow live you will have to pony up for fasthockey or follow along on URI's twitter feed.