"We try not to get too far ahead of
ourselves," Riley said, now in his third season at
the helm. "Every year we talk about trying to create
special memories during the course of a year. I mean, we
like to think that this year that we still have the ability
to do a lot of special things out there. There are certainly
plenty of games left to do something."
Army's season has been pretty special already.
It is the program's best start to a season since the 1976-77
team opened with 13 consecutive wins under Hall of Fame
coach Jack Riley, Brian’s father. Army is riding its
longest unbeaten string since going 8-0-1 during a stretch
in Jan.-Feb. 1998. The Black Knights sit atop Atlantic Hockey
for the first time with a 3-0-1 mark, following a weekend
sweep at Connecticut — the last time Army won two
league road contests on the same weekend was February 1988.
The power play came alive at Connecticut,
producing seven goals on 23 man-up tries, not bad considering
Army was 1-for-15 against Ryerson. The Black Knight power
play is ranked eighth nationally (25.6 percent) and tops
in Atlantic Hockey. Army is the lone team in the nation
with three players each scoring three power-play goals:
Robb Ross, Luke Flicek and Will Ryan.
Army’s overall offense is ranked ninth
at four goals per game. Combine that with Army’s 10th-ranked
defense (2.25 per game) and it’s no wonder the Black
Knights have an early three-point lead in the league.
"We felt confident that we had a great
nucleus of guys returning, forwards and back on defense,"
Riley said. “Our question mark was just in goal from
an experience standpoint. We felt it was important to give
them the opportunity to gain some confidence and certainly
that has happened for Josh (Kassel)."
Army is gaining a little national attention
– the team received seven votes in the NCAA Division
I poll, good for 28th place. The unbeaten run could be in
peril this weekend as Army competes in the Lightning College
Hockey Classic in Tampa, Fla. The Black Knights open with
Notre Dame, the CCHA team which made a lot of news last
week with its road wins over No. 1 Boston College and Providence.
Riley said don’t count his team out
"I always say a bigger underdog cadets
are the more they rise to the occasion, so I am sure our
guys will go down there, play hard and compete."
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
College Hockey Classic; Tampa, Fla. (Fri.-Sat.)
Buffalo has been snowed in. Cold air grips the northern
better place is there to watch four college hockey
games than sunny Florida?
There’s no need to wait until
next month to watch Army and Notre Dame clash —
the unbeaten Black Knights and Fighting Irish highlight
the Friday night doubleheader with an 8 p.m. contest.
New Atlantic Hockey member Air Force
takes on former College Hockey America foe Alabama-Huntsville
in the 5 p.m. opener.
While you’re there: Fans of
Halloween can celebrate the season with the Guavaween
Ybor City, the historic Latin district of Tampa. A
Family Fun Fest
takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and adult revelers
can enjoy costume and cooking contests from 3 o’clock
into the night. What’s hockey without a little
golf thrown in? The PGA’s Chrysler Classic
takes place at the Westin Innisbrook Golf Resort.
Institute of Technology had an offensive explosion
against American International, scoring eight
goals in both weekend contests.
(not-so) special teams. As long as the Golden
Griffins are going to lead the nation with the most
penalty minutes (33.5 per game), Canisius had better
take advantage on its power play to keep up. The blue
and gold hardly did that on Tuesday night as Canisius
went 0-for-16 in its 9-0 loss at Colgate.
• Numero uno: Eric Ehn of Air Force
has posted eight goals and 12 points, leading the nation
in both categories. … Army’s Tim Manthey is
averaging two points per game, tops among all defensemen
and tied for the national lead with New Hampshire’s
Matt Fornatano. … Rochester Institute of Technology
has the best combined special team score in the nation.
The Tigers rank fourth on the power play (28.6 percent)
and tied for 11th on the penalty kill (90.0 percent). …
Dale Reinhardt of Holy Cross is one of three players in
the nation to score two short-handed goals. … Canisius
is tops in penalty minutes (33.5 per game).
• Not going to be held down: Mercyhurst’s
Ben Cottreau bounced back from his oh-fer on Friday (no
goals on eight shots) to produce three goals on 11 shots
in the Saturday victory over Holy Cross. Twice he pulled
Mercyhurst into a third-period tie before Matt Pierce and
Kyle Gourgon put the Lakers on top for good. Cottreau is
only eight points from 100 in his career.
• Stem the fall: A 12-game winless streak
in non-conference games came to an end as Holy Cross nipped
Merrimack, 2-1, on Tuesday night. The league is 2-16-1 in
non cons this season, the other win coming on Oct. 8 as
Air Force knocked off former CHA foe Alabama-Huntsville.
• Down but not out: Bentley had already
lost the opener to Air Force and was down 5-2 midway through
the second meeting when the Falcons exploded for four goals
for a 6-5 victory. It should stir memories of a similar
feat against Iona in February 2003.
• Flying high: Air Force’s top
line of Andrew Ramsey (1-3—4), Eric Ehn (3-2—5)
and Mike Phillipich (2-4—6) totaled 15 points against
• Spreading the wealth: RIT has 12 different
goal scorers this season, eight with two or more. Steve
Pinizzotto, Ricky Walton and Matt Smith each have three
goals apiece. In RIT’s first-ever Division I weekend
sweep of American International, the Tigers had seven different
goal scorers on Friday and eight different scorers on Saturday.
• Hitting the road: Maybe coach Gary
Wright feels about traveling the way John Madden does but
his American International College squad does not hit the
road very often for lengthy trips, outside of league visits
to Buffalo and Erie, Pa. The Yellow Jackets visited Air
Force for two games in October 2003 and took a trek to Minnesota
State for a series in December 2002. This weekend the Yellow
Jackets are buzzing out to Lake Superior State for a twinbill.
The Lakers have split series with Ohio State and Clarkson
thus far. AIC has struggled mightily, being shut out twice
and outscored 18-3 in three games.
• Blankety-blank: Atlantic Hockey squads
have been on the short end of four of five shutouts over
the first two weeks. AIC was blanked by Army and RIT, Alaska
whitewashed Air Force and Canisius didn’t tickle the
twine against Colgate on Tuesday night. Army shut out Ryerson
University, which is still zero when you factor in the Canadian
• An act of neutrality: When Bentley
takes on Princeton in a weekend series, the Friday game
will be played at Richard Codey Arena in West Orange, N.J.
The Saturday contest will be played at Princeton’s
Hobey Baker Rink.
• Home-and-home: Canisius does not have
an on-campus ice rink for its own use but the Golden Griffins
utilize two sheets of ice for their home games. Most contests
are played at the Buffalo State Arena, but a handful —
including Friday’s Atlantic Hockey contest with Rochester
Institute of Technology — will be played at the Amherst
Pepsi Center, located on the campus of the State University
of New York at Buffalo. For you RIT fans needing to scrounge
up some spare change from the backseat, the Thruway toll
is $1.65 each way for the 42-mile drive along the Thruway.
• Time change: RIT’s game at Cornell
on Saturday has been moved from a 7 p.m. start to 8 p.m.
• Looking ahead: Mercyhurst travels
to Sacred Heart next weekend in a showdown of Atlantic Hockey
powers; Army will look to extend its lead atop the league
standings with a home-and-home with AIC; and, first-year
league members RIT and Air Force square off in Colorado
Springs for newcomer bragging rights.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report