"The league certainly didn't do that,"
Riley said. "I was able to switch some games, and we
flip-flopped some weekends."
The result is a homestand which any team in any sport would
love to have – well, except for the road-warrior New
York Giants. Army hosts Canisius this weekend, followed
by series with Air Force, Connecticut and Holy Cross and
the opener of a home-and-home with American International
on Feb. 15.
Of course, there is inherent pressure to produce at home
and make headway in the standings.
"We need to take advantage of this part of our schedule,"
said Riley, whose club has been in a freefall since the
advent of December (0-6-1). "We have nine games at
home to find a way to come up with some points, because
when it's all said and done, one or two points could be
the difference (in hosting a playoff)."
Army's goals-against has gone up a tick – 2.15 over
the first 13 games; 3.29 in the last seven – and the
offense has stayed on vacation. The Black Knights have been
held under three goals during the winless streak despite
outshooting the opposition in five of the seven contests.
"It's not like we're not getting opportunities,"
Riley said. "We're just not capitalizing. To go with
that, it seems every game we're giving up a soft goal. When
your team is struggling to score, it puts pressure on your
goalies and puts them in a position where they can't give
up soft goals. For whatever reason, that is happening."
A shuffling of goaltenders has not been the fix-all. Riley
turned to freshman Jay Clark (1.78, .934) and sophomore
Joey Spracklen (1.79, .924) in last weekend's set at Mercyhurst.
Clark stopped 19 of 22 shots in a 3-0 shutout loss on Friday.
Spracklen stopped 27 of 31 shots in a 4-2 loss on Saturday.
In his last two starts, incumbent Josh Kassel (2.78, .890)
gave up four goals at Connecticut and allowed three goals
in less than 16 minutes against Merrimack.
Army (6-11-3, 6-6-2) opened the weekend in fourth place
in Atlantic Hockey and came out seventh, one point out of
a home playoff berth.
Riley stresses it's not time to panic.
"I really believe that these guys have been working
hard, and they probably deserve a better fate than they
have these last five games," he said. "When you
are in there long enough, these things happen."
The seven-game winless streak is the longest since Army
opened the 2005-06 season with seven losses and tied the
Army has played the last three and a half games without
captain Chase Podsiad – the defenseman went down with
a leg injury during the Union game, and his status is still
week-to-week. Freshman Pat Copeland and junior Mark Tilch
have started in his place.
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
A Nice Gesture: Army is going
to be pulling double-duty on Saturday night at Tate Rink.
Right after the conclusion of its game with Canisius, about
a dozen Army players will participate in a 20-minute sled
hockey exhibition game with the Long Island Rough Riders,
a club team for disabled players. The selected Army players
will strap on the twin-bladed sleds, receive a few minutes
of instruction from the Long Island coaches and players,
and head right into the game.
"They're going to get shellacked,"
mused Rough Riders president Bryan Blomquist. "All
I tell my kids is load up the net quickly because as soon
as they (Army) learn the sleds, it's all over."
Most of the Rough Rider players are ages 12-to-23, although
there is a 50-year-old goalie who lost a leg and a 51-year-old
defensman with cerebral palsy. The team has paralysis victims
from motor vehicle accidents, as well as players who are
mentally retarded, or have Down syndrome, dystonia and spina
"These kids love hockey so much that there is nothing
to hold them back to play this game, said Army second-year
assistant Brian Sherry, who came up with the idea to play
"Hopefully they will take it easy on our guys,"
said Army head coach Brian Riley.
Inside College Hockey will have a follow-up feature next
Great Weekend Getaway
Heart at RIT (Fri.-Sat.)
Fresh off a three-point weekend, Sacred Heart has
pulled itself into a tie for second place with RIT.
Both teams have played well of late, earning points
in three of their last four games. Matt Smith (13
goals) and Simon Lambert (10 goals, 15 assists) pace
the RIT attack, and Louis Menard is one of the league's
top netminders. Sacred Heart has spread its scoring
around and still has dangerous players in Bear Trapp
and Alex Parent. RIT swept a pair at Sacred Heart
While you’re there:Visit
the Ritz Sports Zone after the Friday game and enjoy
the Jack Swift Band – it's Dave Matthews and
Johnny Cash all rolled up into one music group. On
Saturday, it's time for Karaoke Night at the Ritz.
RIT is also hosting basketball doubleheaders on both
days at next-door Clark Gym.
to the Army hockey team for agreeing to a game of
sled hockey against a Long Island club team made up
of disabled youngsters. It should be a humbling and
inspiring experience all wrapped up in one fun contest.
box keepers were kept busy as Connecticut and Canisius
combined for 29 penalties last Saturday. We all know
hockey is a rough-and-tumble game but six unsportsmanlike
conduct calls and eight infractions for hitting after
the whistle means these guys lost their heads.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• Hobey Baker nominees: Twenty Atlantic
Hockey players have earned spots on the Hobey Baker fan
ballot. American International, Army, Bentley, Carnisius
and Holy Cross each received three nominations. Mercyhurst
and Sacred Heart each had a pair. Defending league champion
Air Force received just one – Eric Ehn, a finalist
for the award in 2007.
The nominees, listed alphabetically: Kyle
Bushee, Canisius; Joe Calvi, Bentley; Ben Cottreau, Mercyhurst;
Eric Ehn, Air Force; Luke Flicek, Army; Josh Heidinger,
Canisius; Bryce Hollweg, Army; Jaye Judd, Bentley; David
Kasch, Canisius; Matt Lundin, Mercyhurst; Mike McMillan,
AIC; Owen Meyer, Army; Alexandre Parent, Sacred Heart; Dain
Prewitt, Bentley; Dan Ramirez, AIC; Dale Reinhardt, Holy
Cross; Brodie Sheahan, Holy Cross; Everett Sheen, Holy Cross;
Jereme Tendler, AIC; Bear Trapp, Sacred Heart.
Addendum: Former Army player Ryan Cruthers
was nominated from Robert Morris.
• Advantage, no one: Air Force and visiting
Rochester Institute of Technology gave no ground to one
another in the standings. Air Force won the opener, 5-2,
behind two goals from Matt Charbonneau. RIT won the nightcap,
4-3, on Matt Smith's overtime winner at 1:48. RIT won despite
giving up 12 power play opportunities to the potent Air
Force, which netted two man-up tallies. Goalies Louis Menard
of RIT and Andrew Volkening of Air Force split the wins.
• Pioneers nudge forward: Sacred Heart
was the only other team to earn three points on the weekend.
The Pioneers used a Bear Trapp tally at 1:16 of overtime
to topple AIC 5-4 in the opener, a game which featured nine
different goal scorers. Olivier St. Onge stopped 28 of 30
AIC shots to forge a 2-2 tie on Saturday, moving Sacred
Heart into a tie for second place with RIT. AIC netminder
Dan Ramirez stopped 63 of 70 shots..
• Long drought: Connecticut junior Chris
Myhro needed 15 games before scoring his first goal of the
season in the Huskies' 3-1 win at Canisius on Friday. Myhro
had 33 goals over his first two campaigns. Beau Erickson
supported the win with 35 saves.
• Bagels for two: Canisius sophomore
Andrew Loewen stopped all 26 shots from Connecticut for
his second shutout of the season, a 4-0 decision on Saturday.
Loewen stopped 34 shots in his 4-0 win over Mercyhurst on
• Quick as 1, 2, 3: Visiting Bentley
scored three goals inside of 18 seconds early in the third
period as the Falcons posted a 6-4 win at Holy Cross on
Friday. Blake Hamilton scored at 1:55, and Erik Peterson
scored at 2:02 and 2:13 (he completed his hat trick with
• 289, if by conflict: You didn't need
Paul Revere to signal what was going to happen on Saturday
night in Worcester. Only 289 fans showed up to watch Holy
Cross beat Bentley, 4-2. That's because the New England
Patriots had the temerity to play opposite the Crusaders.
The faithful got to see four different scorers and Adam
Roy stop 36 of 38 shots. Holy Cross snapped an eight-game
winless streak (0-4-4). Bentley's Joe Calvi was chased after
two periods, having allowed four goals on 16 shots.
• Long time coming: There was a time
when Mercyhurst absolutely dominated Army, but the Black
Knights had won five of the last six meetings. The Lakers
answered last season's two-game sweep with one of their
own, beating Army 3-0 and 4-2. Brett Robinson broke a scoreless
draw in the 46th minute, and Matt Lundin (2.63, .925) made
29 saves for his first shutout in a Laker uniform. Matt
Fennell scored twice for Mercyhurst in the nightcap, and
Ryan Zapolski stopped 35 of 37 Army shots for his second
varsity win. Army was 2-for-19 on the power play.
• Don't share the water bottles: A flu
bug sickened 15 Army players last week, which forced Riley
to shuffle some lines against Mercyhurst, but he gives all
the credit to the Lakers for sweeping his team.
"They are definitely a team that will be battling for
home ice (in the playoffs)," Riley said of Mercyhurst.
"They have the kid (Matt) Lundin in goal, who is very
strong for them – you can tell he can win games by
himself. They have some experienced (defensemen) back there.
They have (Ben) Cottreau, who can score in bunches."
• Tuesdays in West Springfield: Okay,
it's not the title of Mitch Albom's next book, but Holy
Cross and American International have played on back-to-back
Tuesday evenings. AIC took the opener, 3-2, on Jan. 8, and
Holy Cross bounced back with a 5-3 win this week. There
were eight different goal scorers. Adam Roy earned the win
with 31 saves on 34 shots.
• Saluting TV coverage: Atlantic Hockey
receives not one, but two national telecasts next weekend.
The service academy series between Air Force and Army –
also a rematch of last season's title game – will
be held Friday, Jan. 25, and Sunday, Jan. 27, at West Point's
Tate Rink. Friday's game will be aired by CSTV at 8 p.m.
ET. Sunday's game (moved from Saturday for TV purposes)
will be broadcast by ESPNU at 4 p.m. ET.
• Looking ahead: Canisius travels to
Army for a series. The two teams are tied for seventh place,
one point out of a home playoff berth. The teams split in
Buffalo last season. ... Connecticut hosts Mercyhurst in
a Friday-Saturday set. The teams split a pair in Erie last
season after Mercyhurst took all four meetings in 2005-06.
... Air Force hosts Denver on Friday and travels to Colorado
College on Saturday. The Falcons lost 2-1 to both teams
last season. Air Force is 2-1-1 in non-league contests this
season. ... Holy Cross hosts Quinnipiac in a Saturday afternoon
tilt. The Bobcats put a 7-0 bruising on Holy Cross last
season. The Crusaders are 1-1-3 in non-league games this
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached