The Black Knights of Army West Point are consistent this year at a few things. You know that the effort from Brian Riley’s team will always be there. You know Colin Bilek will lead the way up front, as he did with goal number 13 on the season. It was a nicely placed shot that left his stick before Jason Grande could figure out anything about the shot heading past him. Oh, and you now know that the Black Knights get a first round bye, as they have ensured Sacred Heart cannot pass them.
After the first goal, again allowed by the Black Knights, Army fought back once more. A few minutes later in the opening frame, Anthony Firriolo took the puck behind the net and saw Bilek darting toward the slot and fed him. As Head Coach Brian Riley said, “That’s the one thing about Bilos (Bilek’s nickname).. i don’t know many guys who can one time the puck as well as Bilos does.” Part of the reason Bilek is one of the best all around players in the country is because of his work ethic. As starting goaltender, Trevin Kozlowski said of their relationship, ” him and I have a pretty healthy competitive relationship.” For the past two years, every practice involves them keeping score. Both have made each other immeasurably better over that time. The work both have put in are a big reason why this team is unbeaten in its last nine games.
Bilek is one of the best goal scorers in the country, with 13 tallies after tonight, and Kozlowski is one of the best goaltenders in the country. He is incredibly confident, and consistent. When Bentley scored first, he did not get rattled, and settled in, making 20 saves on the night. A few of those were in the third period where Army had to answer the Falcons’ consistent pressure, and he was up to the task. The Black Knights were very physical through the neutral zone all night. They were consistent and stymied a very fast Bentley team with their checking.
Riiley had this to say about the physicality his team always brings noting ” I just think that if you’re a team with Army across your chest you better have some physical play.”
To wrap things up, Daniel Haider scored another overtime winner. This time, it came on a feed from Eric Butte, and again Haider sent Army home from Tate Rink with another win, and notch in their belts in their quest for the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament selection. Both shots from Bilek and Haider were able to stay a little lower to the rink than normal, and each of them came off their sticks perfectly.
Of the Haider goal, it happened so fast that Riley said, “I didn’t even realize that it went in at first until everyone started jumping up on the bench.”
Kozlowski and Riley had some thoughts about the evening as well. First, its important to note that after the team wins, the player of the last winning game gives the puck to the winner of the current game’s award. Thomas Farrell handed the puck to Haider for his overtime winner. He then handed it to Kozlowski, who said this about receiving the honor, “I think that kind of speaks volumes about our team… we’re not a team of standouts.. when anybody jumps over the boards on a given shift we think that line can produce.”
On the evening and his group, Riley said that, “you know you have a special team when its a group that understands about playing for each other and not with each other.” This game tonight, for all those guys who played in it was a leadership laboratory out there tonight.”
Kozlowski had the best summation of Army’s progress in the conference, and how the team is viewing what they need to do moving forward in saying, ” a lot of people might write us off.. but at the end of the day our record speaks for itself.”
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