Photo Credit Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
AIC earned a 3-1 win over the UConn Huskies tonight. In the process they got their first non conference win of the season and did so against a team that has a lot of similarities to their next opponent, Mercyhurst. AIC won this game on goals from Chris Van Os-Shaw, Chris Theodore, and Luis Lindner. Jake Kucharski played another sound game in net keeping AIC in things even during the few minutes in the second period where the Huskies out played them.
Lindner provided the insurance goal, he said “ I don’t really remember just how I started I just had the opportunity to skate and beat my guy up the ice then Eric Otto hit me with a great pass and it was a great team goal. We adjusted our game throughout and got on the board and everything kept rolling for us.”
For him, he is a rookie defender that has played beyond his years in the second half , winning multiple Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week awards. He said “ I have to thank my coaches for giving me their trust and throwing me on the ice in every situation.”
On how AIC worked together to beat UConn and win more puck battles he said ,”It’s not all the time the bigger teams win the hockey game. It’s how the teams work together and how the teams compete. That’s what makes us so good competing against bigger and stronger teams. We have to work together as a group and stay tight.”
On the night, Jake Kucharski played well and made 24 saves on the evening. Kucharski said “ I thought we started well and didn’t look back. Everyone contributed tonight and it was the definition of a team win.”
On playing through big sequences in the second and keeping his team in it he said, “Once you’re having fun and genuinely enjoying the game it doesn’t seem like a chore out there. I was just having fun.”
One reason Kucharski has played so well is AIC’s goalie coach, Patrick Tabb. He praised goalie coach Patrick Tabb for his availability, “ I think that’s an important thing to have in a goalie coach.” Tabb is a great coach that focuses on personal instruction which Jake also praised.
Head Coach Eric Lang was quite happy with things, saying “ I thought our collective group was really really strong tonight. That’s as skilled and as talented of a team as we’ve seen in a long time tonight. We had to do a good job taking care of pucks and making a muddy track in the neutral zone. I’m happy for ( UConn transfer) Brian Rigali, our guys were playing for Rigs tonight.”
On potentially playing the other game against UConn if the chance arises he said that “I think in this Covid Era that we are playing games in .. if there’s an opportunity to play games that’s what we want to do.”
Lang does not and will not back down for the schedule his group plays every year. He said “We don’t back off of who we play in our non league schedule.. every non league opponent we’ve played this year could be a tournament team. There isn’t a team in the country that we don’t think we could go up and down the ice with.” Lang also praised the work of Kucharski in net saying “We wouldn’t trade Kuch for anyone right now.. he’s got another gear too. That’s his upside.”
Lang praised the growth of Austen Long as a team player. He said “Longer’s in the best shape of his life right now. He’s one of the most courageous players I’ve ever coached. He’s a guy that’s fully bought in to anything we’ve asked of him. It’s all about the team (for him).. it’s all about the team.”Long’s fourth line had a big part in the win tonight.
Lang echoed Lindner’s sentiments on the won puck battles as a sign of what playing AIC Hockey is, saying, “That’s kind of what we do here .. we preach that it’s not how big you are it’s how big you play.”
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