Photo Credit: Mady Salvani-Army West Point Athletics
Tonight against Holy Cross, Head Coach of Army Hockey, Brian Riley knew the standard early on. He could not have been more accurate in saying , “It felt like a playoff type game and that’s what playoff games are going to be like. I thought we had a great first couple of shifts then we got a couple of penalties.”
Despite getting 40 shots against them, Army weathered the storm. Gavin Abric lead the way there in saying “That’s kind of what he’s done.” Abric stopped 39 shots. “One thing Gavin did well was limiting second chance opportunities, and he is really calm and composed.”
On the Brett Abdelnour goal, Joey Baez showed why he is earning power play time as a plebe. He made the shot that Brett tipped to tie the game. Joey Baez earned a spot on the power play because “ you just see him grow with confidence the second half of the season, he’s got power play instinct.” He made a “smart play” on the goal.
Colin Bilek put home the game winner in the third, his 40th as a Cadet, and eighth of the season. Riley described the feeling, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone have a bigger smile coming back to the bench after scoring a goal, if he starts to feel it watch out. He’s a guy that can take games over for sure.”
Riley did note that his team needs to compliment its strong 5 on 5 defense with more offense, as he said “We put a lot of pressure on our power play to carry us that’s unfair and not a recipe for success.” His team has not conceded a 5 on 5 goal in the last 133:58 of game action, going back to their Thursday loss against AIC. If they can get more help on offense from 5 on 5 play that would help the rest of their offense relax a bit and play more loose.
If Riley’s group can get three points in the series finale tomorrow, that would put them in a more competitive spot for a first round by in the AHA postseason, perhaps even hosting the quarter final series.
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