Photo Credit: RIT Athletics
Army West Point Head Coach Brian Riley was direct when explaining how rare his team getting a 6-0 shutout on the road against RIT was. He said “We haven’t done that to them ever.” A lot of games we’ve played well.” Tonight was one where the bounces were indicative of which team played better , and the Black Knights, for the vast majority of the game, were the better team.
Firstie Marshall Plunkett got the game winner on the first goal of the night, which was only his third as a cadet. Riley said of the bench reaction “They were happy for him.” As for Plunkett the hockey player, Riley said “Plunks is such an easy guy to coach, his demeanor is very level headed, he doesn’t panic at all. He probably didn’t play as much as he would have liked to have last year.” Riley is proud of Plunkett seizing the minutes he has this year. When Riley was looking for defendersto take key minutes , Plunkett was certainly one of them. This season, on the ice he took full advantage of the playing time available and has worked to earn a spot for his consistent play. As Riley said of Marshall, “ Plunks is a real smart kid, he doesn’t panic.” His branch in the Adjutant General Corps. Plunkett will be leading key HR choices for the Army worldwide in this branch. As Riley said, “ The same way he plays is the same way he’s going to serve.”
Patrick Smyth, and Kendrick Frost also pitched in goals from the fourth line later on, along with Eric Huss getting two assists , the fourth line added big insurance points tonight. In defense, Anthony Firriolo had a superb goal as well, as he fired the puck from the point off an RIT stick and in the net. It was a seeing eye shot that found twine and the back of the net.
“We were on our heals the last 10 minutes of the first period. Gavin Abric came up big and had to make 11 saves. Getting a shutout is hard. I’m sure he’d be quick to tell you that the guys in front of him did a good job.” Abric played superb and put his team in a good spot to win.
Army also adjusted to RIT as the night went on. Riley said “ I just thought we did a better job with our defensive zone coverage.”
On the power play Riley said “ I don’t think I’ve ever been on a seven minute power play with the same guy.” This was given when Nick Bruce tripped a player then back checked and elbowed Colin Bilek in the head. RIT was not happy, but video review gave Army the benefit of the doubt as Bruce finished his hit through Bilek’s head. That’s not allowed.
Two different goals from two different units came on the power play that put the game away in the third period.
Riley also praised the work of the fourth line to round out the game. On the night he said “It’s good to win and get three points on the road.”
Riley was also honest in saying of RIT that “They’ve got a lot of pride, we’re going to have to play better tomorrow than we did tonight.”
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