Photo Credit: Mady Salvani-Army West Point Athletics
Army West Point Head Coach Brian Riley said this of how far his team has come to earn the three seed in Atlantic Hockey , “Im really proud of our guys.” For a team to find another star goaltender and multiple scoring options after losing the senior class it did, and earn a bye in the first round with home ice in the second, this Army team has done a lot this year already. They know that that is all prologue to the postseason. This team has to win two games to get to Utica and continue their season. They get to do it against their biggest rival, the Air Force Academy.
Riley talked about the benefits of the bye week here saying “ it was time to fine tune a lot of different things. We worked on every aspect of our game. It gives you time where you don’t feel rushed.”
On earning the bye in Atlantic Hockey Riley said , “all of us were glad that we weren’t playing last weekend. It was huge to have a bye because obviously our league is very tight.” Riley also expects that Marshall Plunkett and Patrick Smyth will both be available to play this weekend. Both of them bring a strong physical presence to the lineup and give the team more depth on defense and up front. Of playing Air Force in the postseason Riley said, “it’s an opportunity to make some great memories.”
Army’s biggest challenges will be facing Alex Schilling in net, and dealing with the speed Air Force plays with. Alex Schilling’s stats don’t do what he does justice. The lone Air Force senior has stolen multiple games over this season and is a well rounded goalie. Up front the Falcons have a contingent full of fast players like Will Gavin that can score at will. If Army West Point is out of sorts defensively, the Falcons will make them pay.
Riley expects the game to be close. After the triple overtime game against Sacred Heart last season he has worked with the training staff to ensure ample food be available for the team during each intermission. On perhaps playing more games in overtime Riley said , “to be quite honest it wouldn’t surprise me.”
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