Photo Credit: Army West Point Athletics
To succeed at a Service Academy Division One Sport, you need plebes to come in and help right away when you graduate a big class before hand. Army West Point has ten plebes in the group who will all battle for ice time this season. Their leadership on the ice knows how important the class is as they get ready to embark on their 22-23 season this weekend with a non conference matchup against a young but talented Union group at home.
Tom Farrell took the time to talk about the plebes. The senior defender talked about the big class for Army Hockey as they will be given a chance to step up big, and early to replace some depth lost by the Black Knights. Specifically he discussed his defense partner, John Driscoll, and praised all he brings to the team. He said, “I’m very impressed with John Driscoll whose going to be my defense partner this week.He’s a very experienced player playing four years in the USHL. He’s a much more experienced player than a typical freshman. I would consider myself a solid two way defenseman. John is a big guy with a long reach.” Farrell went on to talk about John’s offensive upside and the complimentary nature he brings to that pair. Having Farrell to back up Driscoll when he activates should be a nice touch for the Black Knights who will need them, especially on the power play.
Farrell noted simply of this year that “ it’s a new year and a new team.” He also talked about the returners having a bitter taste from how last season ended in heartbreak at home to Air Force. That has been part of the motivation over the summer and for the team as they have re convened for the year ahead.
Anthony Firriolo echoed Farrell’s sentiments about the plebes and talked about the team a bit more. The senior leader will have a big role this year eating minutes , and hopes to earn a pro hockey look at the end of the season. The smooth skating defender will be on the ice for key moments, and projects to be one of the best defenders in the conference if not beyond it. He talks to Colin Bilek regularly and is getting advice from him throughout the season as the two have maintained their friendship.
Head Coach Brian Riley discussed how his team is ready to go, and also took the time to talk about Max Itagaki. He praised Associate Head Coach Zach McKelvie for maintaining a good relationship with him throughout the process. When Itagaki decomitted from RPI, it was McKelvie who worked to help get the BCHL player of the year to campus. From there, being a part of West Point and seeing what he could be in the program and all of the things it offers were big factors in Max choosing to be a Black Knight.
Riley likened Itagaki to former Captain Zach Evancho for what he can bring to the program. This year is time for a new team to showcase their skills at West Point, and potentially, as they would all want it, be the first group in the long history of this program to get to an NCAA Tournament and do more beyond just that. While this group has a lot of talented players and people to replace. Riley is always excited about the start of the year and seeing what each group will bring.
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