by Michael Lehr

Utica - NY For a third straight season, the AIC Yellow Jackets are postseason champions in the Atlantic Hockey Association. The AHA Postseason’s top-seeded team left nothing to chance in the final. Guided by five special teams goals, the Jackets rattled off six goals in the final 40 minutes of play to cruise past sixth-seeded Air Force by a 7-0 score in the AHA Championship Game at the Adirondack Bank Center on March 19. 
AIC (22-12-3) wins their third postseason championship in Atlantic Hockey. They become the second team in AHA history to win three consecutive championships, a distinction they share with Air Force (2007-09). 
“It’s a good day for AIC hockey,” AIC head coach Eric Lang said. “It was tough to enjoy because I felt that there was a chance that they could come back. In the end, I just told our guys to just enjoy the moment once it got down to the final minutes. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to enjoy these types of moments.” 

Graduate forward Chris Dodero led the Jackets in the Championship Game with two goals and two assists. Sophomore forward Julius Janhonen added a pair of goals, including the game-winning goal at 5:16 of the first period. Junior defenseman Zak Galambos and junior forward Blake Bennett each recorded a goal and two assists in the title tilt. Junior forward Jake Stella also had a multi-point game with a goal and an assist. 
In goal for the Jackets, Alec Calvaruso compiled an 18 save shutout and improved his record to 10-4-0. The shutout was the first in the Atlantic Hockey Association Championship Game since 2012, when Air Force blanked RIT to claim top honors, and the fifth all-time. 
For AIC, Bennett was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after tying the tournament record for goals with seven over the course of four games. He also exits this year’s championship as one of just two men in tournament history to record two hat trick performances. Dodero joined Bennett at forward on the all-tournament team. Galambos was chosen to the all-tournament team on defense for the Jackets, and Calvaruso earned the all-tournament nod between the pipes. 
Air Force junior forward Blake Bride had a team-high four shots on goal for the Falcons. Senior netminder Alex Schilling stopped 23-of-30 shots in the loss, and wraps his senior campaign at a record of 14-16-3. He is the lone senior on the Academy’s roster. Freshman goaltender Guy Blessing made one save in six minutes of relief time at the end of the game. 
For Air Force, sophomore forward Will Gavin and junior defenseman Brandon Koch earned All-Tournament team honors. 
AIC held a 31-18 edge in shots on goal, and the Jacket power play went 4-for-8. The squad from Springfield also controlled a 40-23 edge on faceoffs. 

The 23 goals scored by AIC over four tournament games is the fifth-highest total by one team in tournament history.
For AIC, Bennett summed up his thoughts on the championship experience in a very concise way. 

“It’s surreal,” Bennett said. “...I feel very proud to be a part of this team and what we have been able to accomplish.”
2021-22 AHA Championship All-Tournament Team
F- Blake Bennett, AIC
F- Chris Dodero, AIC
F- Will Gavin, Air Force
D- Brandon Koch, Air Force
D- Zak Galambos, AIC
G- Alec Calvaruso, AIC

MOP- Blake Bennett, AIC