Glad you started this post, I look forward to contributing.
I completely agree with the way you separated the teams, although I might put Army and RMU at a slightly higher level than the other 4 in that group. It should be very interesting coming down the stretch. As a Bentley fan, I'll try to represent why I think the Falcons are one of the teams to beat going forward.
Since the new year, they haven't outright lost a weekend series, including 3 points against then conference leading Army and this past weekend's sweep against RIT. One of the Falcon's biggest struggles in the first half was special teams, with both their PK and PP being among the bottom 5 in the country. Since the new year, the PP has been running near 35%, and while the PK hasn't been quite that good, they held RIT 0/8 this past weekend. On the defensive side, they've been struggling a little bit as the injury bug seems to have bitten a few top defensemen in Chris Buchanan and Alexey Solovyev, but if they can get those guys back, they're looking at a good support system around their goaltender. Speaking of goalies, Coach Soderquist has decided to split time between junior Jayson Argue and freshman stud Aidan Pelino. I think that the competition for the starting job has pushed these guys to play their best, and hopefully they will continue to perform at the level they have been in the coming weeks.
Their upcoming schedule is where they can make it or break it. In the next two weekends, they face Air Force and RMU. If they can manage splits or better, they've set themselves up really well for a strong push up in the AHC standings facing SHU and HC in the final two weekends. I predict that the series against Holy Cross in the final weekend of the season could be very deciding in terms of AHC seeding, possibly deciding which of those two teams gets a first round bye with the 5 seed. The Falcons have a tough road ahead, but I'm optimistic that they're finally finding some consistency and can make that push to Rochester that they haven't been able to achieve since 2008.