November 18, 2005
Roberts is Army's Anchor

By Ken McMillan

 Atlantic Hockey Notebook

Roberts posted a shutout in the 1,000th victory in Army hockey history.

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Graduation is less than seven months away for Brad Roberts and a whole new life awaits him.

Most college seniors are anxious about heading into an unknown professional world, many of whom don’t have jobs laid out just yet, while others are eager to stay in school as a way to avoid the responsibilities of life.

Not Roberts. He already has a job waiting for him, as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and his responsibilities could include leading platoons of soldiers into combat. It is a role the U.S. Military Academy senior

“I am getting ready to take charge and do the best that I can to lead the sons and daughters of the U.S. Army,’’ Roberts said. “I am excited but nervous, of course, to make sure I have learned everything I can.’’

The demands on a West Point student are great, both academically and militarily. That is why playing sports is so important to the Cadets, because it is a piece of normalcy that they can hold on to. In Roberts’ case, that means playing goalie for the Army Black Knights, a job he has performed very well for three-plus seasons.

Roberts is going to rank very high in the steeped history of Army hockey. Save for a knee injury last season and the very rare blowout loss, the Cassville, N.Y., product will have played just about every possible minute for the Black and Gold since his arrival.

“You always want to be on the ice as an upperclassman,’’ said Roberts, “and as a goaltender you feed off of playing time and being there for your team.’’

At no time has Roberts played better than in the all-important service academy games against Air Force and the Royal Military Academy, Canada’s version of West Point. Roberts has posted a stellar 8-2 record in those games, amassing a 1.60 goals-against average and .947 save percentage and posting one shutout against the Falcons and Paladins.

Winless Army was in dire need for a victory, and a leg up in recruiting, as it headed into last weekend’s home series with Air Force, the last time the two schools would meet as non-league foes. Next season Air Force joins Atlantic Hockey and the teams could meet as many as four times during the regular season.

Playing in front of a sold-out Veteran’s Day crowd at Tate Rink, Roberts blanked Air Force, 3-0, with a 26-save performance. It marked Army’s 1,000th career victory, and was the first time Army had shut out Air Force since Feb. 17, 1996. It was Roberts’ fifth career shutout, moving him to sixth on the school’s all-time list.

"Roberts was the best player on the ice," said Air Force coach Frank Serratore.

Roberts wasn’t through. The next night he turned aside 19 shots as Army prevailed in overtime, 4-3. It marked Roberts’ second sweep of Air Force, the first time coming during his breakout freshman season at the most unlikely of places, in Colorado Springs. The victory also gave the Army Class of 2006 the distinction of being the only graduating class to ever post a winning record (5-3) against the Falcons.

"What can I say about Brad?" Army coach Brian Riley said. "He's a big-time player. He looks forward to (service academy games) and he backs it up. I'm proud of these seniors to go out with a winning record against Air Force."

The effort against Air Force made Roberts the natural choice to be named Atlantic Hockey’s goaltender of the week. Roberts ranks 51st nationally in save percentage (.892) and 49th in goals against average (3.11). He leads the league in most saves made (247), and just cracked the 5,000-minutes played mark for his career.

Roberts owns a 5-2 record against Air Force with a 1.85 goals against average and .943 save percentage. Scott Hamilton is the only other Army goalie to post a winning record (4-3-1) against Air Force.

The Air Force games are thrilling for every Army hockey player but the biggest rivalry remains the annual game against the Royal Military College. This season’s matchup takes place on February 11 in Kingston, Ontario, where Army is sure to face a hostile crowd.

Roberts has backstopped three victories against RMC, one of only two Army goaltenders to do so, and could become the first to go 4-0 against the Paladins.

The Air Force sweep during his freshman season and all the RMC victories remain Roberts’ favorite ice hockey memories at West Point, although he is sure to add last week’s effort to the list.

Great Weekend Getaway
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Sacred Heart at Mercyhurst (Fri.-Sat.)
The league gets a first versus second showdown for the second week in a row as runner-up Sacred Heart heads West to take on league-leader Mercyhurst. The Lakers lead the series 9-7-2, which included a home sweep in March.

While You're There: If you skip the series nightcap, you could commit college hockey blasphemy and head to Tullio Arena, where the Erie Otters host the London Knights in an Ontario Hockey League game. If you are feeling ambitious, make the two-hour trek to Niagara Falls and watch Niagara take on future Atlantic Hockey member RIT in a 2 p.m. Saturday tilt and still get back to Erie in time. Erie goes country on Sunday with a concert featuring Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich and Cowboy Troy. If you prefer something a little harder, drive 100 miles down to Cleveland and visit the Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame.

Stick Salute

Tyler McGregor of Holy Cross scored five goals in a series split with Mercyhurst. In an unbelievable start to his weekend, McGregor tallied three first-period goals in a 10-3 win. The senior forward now has seven goals and five assists.

Bench Minor

Canisius and Bentley went from playing beautiful hockey to brutish hockey in the span of one day. The clubs combined for seven penalties in the series opener and then logged 41 infractions in the nightcap, 11 of those calls coming in the last minute of play. True fans won’t stand for such nonsense.


Demanding more – One would think that averaging four goals per game would be satisfying to most coaches, but not Holy Cross mentor Paul Pearl.

“I think it is a little misleading because we scored 10 goals in one game so that kind of pumped up our stats,’’ Pearl said. “We need to get more scoring from our second and third lines. The Pierre Napert-Frenette, Tyler McGregor and Blair Bartlett line has held up (its) end of the bargain, but the offensive production of some of the other guys hasn't been what we expected. We have been fortunate that the first line has been scoring as much as they have but if we are going to be successful in the long run we need to get more from players from those other lines.’’


• A perfect 10: Holy Cross established an Atlantic Hockey record for goals scored in a 10-3 rout of Mercyhurst on Nov. 11. The seven goals scored in the first period is also a league record and all came within a 15-minute span. Tyler McGregor scored all three of his goals in that period. In all, seven different Crusaders scored and nine others contributed assists, meaning every forward who dressed got a point.

• It’s in the name: This week’s rookie of the week was none other than Bear Trapp of Sacred Heart, a member of Inside College Hockey's 2005 Recruiting All-Name Team. Trapp had both game-winning goals in the Pioneers’ weekend sweep of American International.

• Doing the Conn-Can in Buffalo: Kick your feet up for a weekend series pitting Connecticut and Canisius at Buffalo State Arena. The clubs played on the same weekend last season with Canisius prevailing 4-0 and 5-1. The Golden Griffins added a 3-2 win in Storrs. The Huskies had swept the season’s three-game series in 2003-04, winning twice in Storrs.

• All aboard: This weekend marks only the second time this season that all eight Atlantic Hockey teams are playing two-game series.

• Home on the road: Army has not enjoyed much road success in recent seasons, but the Black Knights have managed to take four of six points on Bentley’s home ice the past two seasons. The clubs tied 3-3 in Waltham last season, and Army posted a win and tie at the John Ryan Skating Arena in 2003-04.

• Mass. Pike leanings: Holy Cross has won 10 and tied one in the last 11 meetings with American International. The tie came last season in Worcester. The Crusaders have won six in a row at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield. AIC last downed Holy Cross on home ice on Feb. 2, 2001.

• Looking PHAT: Sacred Heart piled up 14 goals in a pair of wins over American International. The last time the Pioneers had that much offense in a weekend was when they scored 15 goals in a weekend sweep of Bentley (6-3 and 9-1) on Jan. 18-19, 2002.

• Last of the home cooking: Holy Cross plays six of its first seven Atlantic Hockey games at home, culminating with the Friday matchup with AIC. The Crusaders are 3-2 in league play at the Hart Center.

• Time to bribe the schedule-maker: In stark contrast to a generous schedule for Holy Cross, Army plays its first eight league games on the road. So far, the Black Knights are 0-2 at Holy Cross and 0-1-1 at Canisius.

• Looking forward to a Turkey hangover?: When you’re not fighting for the last drumstick, fans in the Capital District of New York might want to take in a hockey two-fer at RPI. The Rensselaer Holiday Tournament features a twinbill on Black Friday (that’s the day after Thanksgiving for all of you non-bargain shoppers) of Holy Cross versus RPI and Providence.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.