Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
With a different day came the same reality for this AIC team. A new lineup with many different players playing had to get this team points in a tight Atlantic Hockey race. In a year of change for AIC, one player has been a constant for what he does best, Blake Benett scores a penalty shot game winner with eight tenths if second left in overtime. On a day when many new faces got back into the lineup, the Grand Island native made his mark in AIC history with the most likely latest penalty shot goal in AIC regular season history in overtime to win the game. The goal came with eight tenths of a second left in overtime.
The coaching staff was not happy after the series opener and wanted to see a consistent effort Saturday. They got it.How the team battled back and showed their commitment to defense is a template they can use going forward. Saturday’s work shows this team is still capable of great things in the postseason because they found a way to beat a tough, physical team on the road. To win an Atlantic Hockey Tournament again, they will have to likely go on the road to face a veteran RIT and perhaps Sacred Heart team as well. Mercyhurst has the skill of Sacred Heart and is gaining the truclenece of RIT.
Here’s Head Coach Eric Lang’s thoughts on the evening “What a difference a day makes. We played inspired selfless hockey for 64 minutes and 59 seconds. It took every ounce of us. That’s as good of a regular season win as you could possibly have. We had 9 regular players out of our line up for one reason or another. We had very subtle adjustments in terms of X and O’s. Our guys will and refusal to be denied was the ultimate factor.”
Lang said of Bennett “ Blake had to be the best player on the ice tonight. We were down three of our top four scorers and he had to elevate. He did!”
Of a returner that the staff has had in and out of the lineup, Darwin Lakoduk, he brought energy Friday and earned more time in the finale. As Lang said “ Darwin Lakoduk was special tonight. He inspired our team with his play. He did it all.”
Now the team gets a bye this weekend before the stretch run. Everything is still possible for AIC, and this team will have one more chance to put together a run of strong play ahead of the Atlantic Hockey postseason.
Lang said “ We need to get healthy. The timing of this bye couldn’t be better.”
Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts