Army comes close to earning win over Wisconsin: Now what?

Photo Credit:Ricky Bassman

Last night, the Black Knights were within one shot of leading Wisconsin for the majority of the game. Joey Baez took a nice feed from Marshall Plunkett and walked in to put home his first goal in college hockey and tied things in the second period. From that point on the game between the Black Knights and the Badgers resembled the low scoring, and defensive exhibition we come to expect from teams in the NCAA Tournament. The final score of 4-1 does not reflect the reality of the game which was 2-1 Badgers until they put home the final markers in an empty net to round things out.

The standout last night was Gavin Abric. The Wisconsin native stood on his head throughout the game in a performance remanicient of what Trevin Kozlowski did for Coach Brian Riley’s group the past few years. Abric’s 39 saves kept the team in front of him in the game all night. The second goal he gave up came on a power play where Wisconsin broke down Army’s zone and gave Jack Gorniak too much time and space to put one home in the slot, which he did.

What to watch for

Last night showed how far this team has come since the Providence game. They competed for a full 60 minutes on a nearly Olympic sized sheet of ice against a highly skilled team. As Riley said of the night “we were in position to win the game.” This group had a lot of good going for it last night and has a few things to do in order to change the result of last night.

First , if the Black Knights can win some more faceoffs, that will force Wisconsin to have to defend more than they did last night. When you lose 46 of 69 draws you have to defend a lot , and are often not able to get to your forecheck on a shift. Wisconsin took advantage of that all night to give themselves ample chances.

Second, the Black Knights have to improve in their gaps and possession. Wisconsin drew penalties and scored the game winning goal when they were able to get around the Black Knights. For the result to be different, they have to force the Badgers in to worse areas and be responsible with the puck. If they can minimize cross ice passes and simplify their game then more positive things could happen tonight.

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