Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
For AIC, they came into their Atlantic Hockey opener with something to prove. They were facing a Niagara team that knocked off NCHC foe, Omaha, a week ago and in convincing fashion. The Purple Eagles showed that they are a resilient and veteran team capable of anything. AIC, despite the good vibes from their tie against Umass Amherst with a shootout win( that didn’t count for anything, had not put a win up on the young season. Tonight, that changed. AIC scored first and never trailed with a 2/6 effort on the power play to earn a 6-3 win and their first Atlantic Hockey points on the season.
With all of that said, there were some standouts for AIC. Dustin Manz has shown everyone quickly why he belongs on the lineup chart every night. The big center had two power play goals and drove things forward for Head Coach Eric Lang’s group. Lang said of Manz “ He’s a handful at the net front. He has really good hands and he can find guys as well.”
Lang also added about the challenge Niagara presents “ Niagara is incredibly well coached. They always have an outstanding plan and they compete extremely hard. That’s a really good team we beat tonight.”
On the play of Jarrett Fiske (with the nickname of Cheese) in net, he earned his first career with 23 saves on 26 shots faced, Lang said of Cheese and the defenders in front of him “Cheese has been great super solid poised and calm.Our D core is the best in the conference. They make the game easy for our forwards.”
For the standouts tonight for AIC that bring grit first, Lang said of Eric Otto and Jake Rosenbaum “ Eric Otto and Rosey played like warriors. They are winning hockey players that don’t care about who gets any credit. As long as we win.”
Despite the two power play markers and the final result, Lang knows his team has another gear. As he said “ To be honest that wasn’t a Picasso. We need to be way better in alot of areas.”
Assistant Coach Brendan Riley added his thoughts on the night , answering similar questions to Lang.
On Niagara he said
“Niagara is a really really hard working team. They are always a team who plays us super close. They do a great job of playing within their structure and playing hard. There is no easy ice out there against Niagara.”
On the play of Cheese
“Cheese was great again for us. He was steady throughout the game and he made some big time saves right when we needed them. He kept us in a position to win the game.”
On what Dustin Manz brings
“Dustin is a player who plays with a lot of courage and that’s what it takes to play at the net. Both were great tips and great selfless shots from Biro who was shooting to create.”
On breaking thoughts on the power play, he said
“It was a relief to finally break through in the PP. We had a good plan coming in and we executed really well. The guys worked hard this week at it and it paid off for us tonight. The new challenge will be to keep the consistency now. Special teams win or lose you hockey games.”
Riley mentioned some more grit players
“As always we had a ton of guys play with incredible grit. Brett Rylance got the score sheet tonight twice in a similar way. Using his speed and getting to pucks first which eventually led to both of Oscars goals. There were a lot of grit guys for us tonight.”
On the adjustments to for Saturday Riley said
“Saturdays games are always about who can make the better adjustments and who can execute those adjustments. We’ll do our best as a staff to get a good game plan in place.”
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