Army comes close to earning win over Wisconsin: Now what?

Photo Credit:Ricky Bassman

Last night, the Black Knights were within one shot of leading Wisconsin for the majority of the game. Joey Baez took a nice feed from Marshall Plunkett and walked in to put home his first goal in college hockey and tied things in the second period. From that point on the game between the Black Knights and the Badgers resembled the low scoring, and defensive exhibition we come to expect from teams in the NCAA Tournament. The final score of 4-1 does not reflect the reality of the game which was 2-1 Badgers until they put home the final markers in an empty net to round things out.

The standout last night was Gavin Abric. The Wisconsin native stood on his head throughout the game in a performance remanicient of what Trevin Kozlowski did for Coach Brian Riley’s group the past few years. Abric’s 39 saves kept the team in front of him in the game all night. The second goal he gave up came on a power play where Wisconsin broke down Army’s zone and gave Jack Gorniak too much time and space to put one home in the slot, which he did.

What to watch for

Last night showed how far this team has come since the Providence game. They competed for a full 60 minutes on a nearly Olympic sized sheet of ice against a highly skilled team. As Riley said of the night “we were in position to win the game.” This group had a lot of good going for it last night and has a few things to do in order to change the result of last night.

First , if the Black Knights can win some more faceoffs, that will force Wisconsin to have to defend more than they did last night. When you lose 46 of 69 draws you have to defend a lot , and are often not able to get to your forecheck on a shift. Wisconsin took advantage of that all night to give themselves ample chances.

Second, the Black Knights have to improve in their gaps and possession. Wisconsin drew penalties and scored the game winning goal when they were able to get around the Black Knights. For the result to be different, they have to force the Badgers in to worse areas and be responsible with the puck. If they can minimize cross ice passes and simplify their game then more positive things could happen tonight.

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Army West Point Prepares for Wisconsin: Read More

Photo Credit: Mady Salvani-Army Athletics

Army West Point battled back against RIT to earn a tie and shootout win to pickup two Atlantic Hockey points. Now, their hockey team heads to battle the Badgers on Thursday and Friday on the road before their football team takes on the Badgers on Saturday. Heading into this week we took the time to chat with Army Goaltender Gavin Abric, as he is the likely starter for at least the first game of this series.

He is a goaltender that learned from Trevin Kozlowski how to compete at the Division One level, and also one with a lot of superstitions. One of the most enduring superstitions for him is his pregame music. Abric, the former New Jersey Hitmen netminder, listens to about 20 songs on his old blue iPod Shuffle, one so old that it has the scroll button. He was blown away by what West Point had to offer and committed shortly after one of his visits. The Wisconsin native expects to have a large contingent in the Kohl Center for this series, and is looking forward to leading this group against a tough Badgers side.

Associate Head Coach Zach McKelvie had the following to say about the staff’s interest in Abric.

” We recruited Gavin out of New Jersey Hitmen and it was a pretty quick process-we believed he had a ton of potential and loved his character. What drew us to him was his athleticism, competitiveness, and his character…he is a phenomenal person.”

On the Badgers, who are coming off of being on the wrong end of a series sweep by Michigan Tech, McKelvie added that the team is ” well coached, and highly skilled. Their result from last weekend isn’t at all indicative of who they are as a team. They will be ready to play and ready to protect their home ice. We expect to get a highly competitive team, hungry like us for a win.”

For the Black Knights, one of their biggest themes is improving day to day, and game to game. The staff thinks that while the group did leave points on the table last week that they improved from the Providence game, while still adding that more is in this group, and the staff expects more. As McKelvie said, “Our team was far more competitive then week 1 & for most of the weekend we played to our team identity. You can look at the result from the first two weekends and be disappointed but for Coach Riley and our staff it’s about playing better each weekend and we certainly took a big step from week 1…We still haven’t played a complete 60 minute game. This past Friday we played really well for 50 minutes but college hockey is so competitive, often times that’s not enough. So that’s number 1, playing a complete team game for 60 minutes. Number 2 is managing the game….such as taking bad penalties or allowing goals early/late in periods.” The Black Knights need to take the fight to the Badgers early on, lest they risk getting the Kohl Center riled up against them even more and playing from behind against a team filled with NHL talent, even after losing most of their top scoring from a year ago.

Another thing about the staff is knowing what group they have and what they expect from players. Every player in this group can come in or out of the lineup depending on results. The staff felt that Patrick Smyth and Kendrick Frost did not have good games against Providence, and got some other forwards a look on Friday night. No matter as the veteran pair came back to the fourth line and helped set a physical tone throughout the game Saturday. As McKelvie said of the pair ” Smyth and Frost are veteran guys and very good players. They didn’t play near to their abilities in game 1, so taking them out for one and putting them back in allows them to reset and focus. They went in and had a huge impact in the game. We were down 2-0, their line went out half way through the second and had a dominating shift which changed the momentum of the game. Their line was very impactful on the game. Nobody likes coming out of the line up, but Coach Riley knew that taking them out and getting to know get back in would have a big impact on our team.” For the Black Knights to get off to a good start this weekend, this group has to lead the way. Michigan Tech played well against the Badgers in part because they are a physical, and depth heavy team.

For the Black Knights, they need to show their depth, and ability to force their opponent to make mistakes because of the physical game they play. They also need a consistent starting goaltender, an answer to that may come later in the year, but the body of work for all candidates should be more clear after this weekend. Abric gets the next look in net for Brian Riley’s group, and he gets to make his second start in his home state.

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RIT 4 Army West Point 3: Three Things

Photo Credit Mady Salvani – Army Athletics

The offense is there

For the Black Knights to go far, they need starts like the one they had on Friday night. To their credit, after how the Providence game ended they showed no quit early on and took the initiative to RIT. They were the better team for the first half of the game in key statistics. The lineup changes by the Army West Point Coaching staff paid immediate dividends as plebe Josh Bohlin potted his first goal on his first shit. Soon after,Colin Bilek found the back of the net for the first time this season, and up to the 1:45 of five on three time the Black Knights looked to be in control of this game.

Defense:Better not Best

After the Black Knights could not score on 1:45 of a 5 on 3 power play, the game changed. The Black Knights still got some chances but could not finish them. Kolby Matthews was the best player on the ice for either team last night as he made many saves on grade a chances when Army carried play and then did enough when his team was doing well to earn the comeback win. As for Army West Point, the last half of the game looked more like the third period of the Providence game in terms of spacing and gap control. That is not a long term formula for success. It does not matter how this team starts if they turn in 30 minutes of defense that only defends their opposition’s chances to score more goals. Their were some bright spots last night for the Black Knights. The defense in the final half from poor gaps to guys getting caught puck watching to giveaways blunted the impact of all of those good things

Now what?

Army Hockey is known for preparing leaders to respond to adversity on the rink, on the battlefield, and in life. This team and staff now have their first test. Not even looking at the final score today to determine how they did is fine. While yes everyone wants to win , and that is the goal, seeing the team play a consistent game for a full 60 minutes and forcing RIT to make the mistakes they did are the two things to watch.

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Army West Point prepares for RIT: More From Associate Head Coach Zach McKelvie

Photo Credit:Providence Athletics

This weekend, the Black Knights of Army West Point head home to face an RIT team coming off a non conference loss to Colgate, and looking to make their mark with a top heavy offense and a defense still establishing itself. Hear are Associate Head Coach Zach McKelvie’s thoughts on key issues for the Black Knights heading into their Atlantic Hockey Association opening series.

1. Who are some new faces we will see on the dressed list this weekend?

“Josh Bolin and Hunter McCoy are at forward, no changes on defense just new combos.”

2.What changes as coaches did you all focus on in practice this week?

“Playing to our identity-we need to play our way for 60 plus minutes. Certainly we had to clean up some systems as anyone does early in the season but the bottom line is our effort was there but we weren’t competing to win puck battles.”

3. What has been your biggest point of emphasis on video prepping for the Tigers ?

“RIT is a solid team with a lot of experience returning including their entire senior class from last year returning for a 5th season. They are also very well coached so talked mainly about coming out ready to win each individual battle and make RIT adjust to our game not the other way around.”

4. What’s one thing about Tate Rink you wish more fans knew?

“Tate Rink is an excellent spot to watch a hockey game. The way the seats are lends itself to feeling like you are right in the action…which also makes it very loud.”

5. What is your biggest opportunity for improvement against RIT?

“We are still trying to find our identity as a club so this weekend is really about taking another step as a team and on the individual level learning from last week and finding ways to make a positive impact.”

6. Who is your projected starter in net for the weekend and why?

“We have not named a starter for this weekend but we are confident that all three of our goalies are ready to go. All three are grade A competitors and great human beings, whoever gets the nod will be ready to go as with any of our players.”

As McKelvie said, RIT is a veteran team out to do more than just finish in the top four of Atlantic Hockey this year. This is a group with similarities to Army West Point, and has every intention of using their skill on offense to get ahead and force the Black Knights to catch up. This will be a good early test for the Black Knights this weekend at home, as they play in front of a packed Tate Rink for the first time since the pandemic began.

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Takeaways from Army West Point’s 7-0 loss: Read more on what comes next

Photo Credit: Providence College Athletics

Tonight, the Black Knights played the Providence College Friars. A team that came in looking for a replacement for Trevin Kozlowski had Justin Evenson start its opener against a Providence group with eight NHL draft picks, and one set to challenge for a Hockey East Title.

Despite the score, there are some things to take away for Coach Brian Riley from the night. First off, there was a theme to this game, getting players experience, either rookies like Michael Sacco who had not played a game since before the pandemic started (he attended the US Military Academy Prep School last year), or players like his line mates who did not play at all last year.

First, in net, Riley appriciated the effort from Evenson all night. He had to make a lot of saves in the third period, and to his credit, he battled throughout the evening. As Army West Point is looking for a netminder, he added positives to his ledger not for his final accounting of saves, but for how he battled on a night where he faced an inordinate amount of grade-a looks. The staff knows he is a competitor, and Evenson, despite playing different than Kozlowski, has learned a lot from him over their time together about competing as a Division One starter and how to bounce back, traits that will serve him well this season. As Riley said of his night ” I hope this experience will make him a better goalie,” also ” he competed.”

Each of the three periods tonight, Army gave up a goal in the first two minutes. Riley rightly called this a recipe for disaster, and those early goals obscured the effort his team put forward. They all competed throughout the evening, yet any positive progress they made did not show on the score sheet. While there will be things the staff will want to adress, like improving puck side support throughout the night, and limiting high danger chances, the team did compete. Many times Army seemed to be on the cusp of breaking through, but then a post was hit, a shot went wide, or Jaxson Stauber made a wonderful save.

Riley and the staff will be dissecting as much of the game film as they can. In the short term, this group opens their Atlantic Hockey ledger against an offensively strong RIT team next weekend, and the staff will be looking at different options up and down the lineup as needed. In the long run, Riley rightly noted that of tonight ” this is game one”, and this season is, a ” marathon”. That means that Army and all teams will learn from their early season results and you expect more development from everyone in each program, where coaches have routine schedules less variable than they were last year. Many great teams in this sport haven’t truly hit their stride until Christmas. Riley of course wants that to come sooner, but in a loss like this, that is one game in a long year, that sees Army open with a tough October ledger, this fact of development taking time is reality. Riley has said often to his team, being honest as he is that ” winning is hard.” Today proved that.

What comes next against the Tigers is up to the Black Knights, and how the future leaders of American Soldiers handle adversity. Riley often refers to Army West Point Hockey as a leadership lab, and tonight, everyone in that room got dealt their biggest margin of defeat in the program’s time in the past few years at least. Now the college hockey world gets to see this team play in front of its loud fans at Tate Rink for the first time since the pandemic started, next weekend.

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Army West Point Hockey: Three things to watch this season

For Army West Point , they do not start with an exhibition as a lot of teams are. Their work starts today to prepare for the grind of the conference that added some of the most talent through the transafer portal. They take on the Friars of Providence College on the road this afternoon, and then begin Atlantic Hockey play next weekend at home against RIT to round out their first two weeks. Here are three things to watch for the Black Knights this season that could determine how far this team goes.

Non conference results

The Black Knights, like every Atlantic Hockey team, will get a full non conference schedule with two added games due to the suspension of the Robert Morris program ( we hope the suspension is only for this year and that the Colonials are back in short order).

With that, Head Coach Brian Riley’s group gets to face the Friars today, and in a couple of weeks faces the Badgers of Wisconsin on the road. These, along with the rest of their non conference schedule helps figure out the pairwise. If the Black Knights want a spot in the NCAA Tournament without winning the Atlantic Hockey Tournament they have to start strong here.

New Impact Makers

Michael Sacco hasn’t played a hockey game since the pandemic started. Army’s goaltenders have about three games of experience coming into this season. All of them, combined with players like Patrick Smyth and Kendrick Frost who did not play last year have to step up to fill the roles of those who are now Second Lieutenants.

Being about “us”

While this article is going up at 2nd intermission of Army-Providence, it is good to look at how the game has gone so far. The Friars have done a lot of things well, and today , they reminded everyone why they are a threat to win Hockey East this season. With that said, the Black Knights have had their fair share of chances and done a lot of things to let the Friars take a 4-0 lead into the third. How the Black Knights respond in the third and what changes the staff makes before Army takes on RIT next week. The Tigers are a strong offensive team that will be studying today’s film for ways to attack this group. For the Black Knights to do well this season they have to be able to adjust after moments like the first two periods against Providence. A lot of new faces are on this group but the goals remain the same, if the new faces can help and returners can take the positives in to this season than all potential positives are on the table for the Black Knights.

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Atlantic Hockey: Three games to watch

Photo Credit :Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Given that, finally, it is a game week for Division One Men’s College Hockey, and given that many teams in Atlantic Hockey have a chance to make their mark this week, let’s look at three games to watch, and what we will be looking at from each Atlantic Hockey team in them.

Army West Point Vs. Providence

The back end of the Black Knights is the most glaring thing to keep an eye on. While the team up front has a preseason Hobey Baker Candidate in Colin Bilek leading them, their defense and goaltending has a lot to be figured out. The team has about two games of experience in net amongst their three netminders. Their rear guard does have some intriguing folks looking for playing time right away. One player that reminds us a bit of recently graduated Firstie, and current Second Lieutenant John Zimmerman, who played a big physical game for Brian Riley’s group for four years is Andrew Gilbert. The 6’5″ defender, like Zimmerman, will step up and look to earn time on the penalty kill pretty quickly. You will not measure his impact on the stat sheet, unless it has blocked shot, hit, and turnover columns in it. The Hitmen were the best team in the NCDC last year and won the Dineen Cup Championship with him at the helm. If he can help the defense, along with players like Hunter McCoy up front (a player Bilek singled out for his strong release) then the Black Knights could be poised to give the Friars more than they bargained for in the early Saturday opener.

AIC vs. Boston College (EXH)

Eric Lang has one of if not the biggest rosters in this sport, and seeing who gets a chance to battle for time against one of the perennial favorites to win Hockey East should be intriguing. Lang will surely want his top returners to get looks, so expect players like Chris Dodero, Chris Theodore, Parker Revering, and Luka Maver to all get some reps. The bigger story for AIC is in their depth. We will be tracking this game to see how Alex Tertyshny does if he gets his shot. Wherever he may see time, should he draw in, he, the many transfers AIC has, and the freshmen brought in will all be under observation by Lang and his staff. He likes playing all four lines pretty equally early on, and there is where players make it hard on him to keep them off the ice. Look at Aaron Grounds last year, the now sophomore competed against a full roster to earn time, and could not be kept out of the lineup after his early season stretch putting up three points in his first four games to compliment the physical nature with which he plays the game.

Oh, and AIC is integrating two Robert Morris transfers including Brian Kramer, who Lang called “the best defender in our league.” How the depth players looking for time like Tertyshny, who can earn looks in the regular season with his early season play, and the new transfers integrate will be the story of this exhibition in setting the stage for the rest of the way for Lang and his group.

Colgate Vs. RIT

The only home game that counts features the Tigers as the home team. The Tigers have Senior Will Calverley leading the way, who is a dark horse pick to take the Atlantic Hockey scoring title from Bilek. He is one of the fastest players in this league who can score in an instant, and like Bilek is not afraid to block shots and lead in the defensive end. Unlike Bilek’s group who is heavy on underclassmen looking to step up and lead sooner, Head Coach Wayne Wilson’s group has ten seniors, with not many question marks in their key positions. The Tigers have the chance to, like Army West Point did last season, utilize their depth and leadership in key positions to spoil the top three of the preseason Atlantic Hockey poll that had them slated to finish fourth. The Tigers have depth and top end skill in all of their groups, and how quickly they put things together will go a long way to determining their fate this season.

The Tigers get to play the Black Knights in the second week of the season, in the Atlantic Hockey Association opening series in two games that could serve as a guide of trends for both teams, after seeing Colgate this weekend.

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

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A special night for a Colin Bilek sees the Generals earn a 6-3 win: Read more

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

In their series finale against Johnstown, the Generals faced a seesaw match that went their way. Arguably retiring Colin Bilek’s number six, and playing the Saturday game had an effect on the result.

The team again got the first goal, but their opponents, the Johnstown Tomahawks fought throughout the game and kept it close until a Jared Scott empty netter gave us the final result.

On the night, Head Coach Bryan Erikson said of the Bilek number retirement

” It was really special for me. And I know it was for him and his family. We were able to keep it a secret all the way until we actually announced it. We hid his parents, had a ton of family here. It was great. I always get emotional talking about Colin because he means to much to not only me and the ownership but also the entire Organization. We wouldn’t be what we are without his leadership in those first 2 years. He is the model of the player we are looking for. He is a great person first. Yes he is a great hockey player. But it is his heart that shows through. It is why we have such a high standard for the type of kid we will take here. We don’t care if Colin plays hockey after college (even though I think he will). His number is retired because of the person he is and what he means to not on the Generals but to each of us personally.”

Once again, Brent Keefer and Matthew Boczar chipped in with key goals and showed their development. Of the Generals’ returners for this season, those two have shown immediate improvement both on the ice and the score sheet. Keefer is visiting at least one Division One school and has interest from many more for the speed game he plays, and Boczar has developed his playmaking over the past year. Both are a point or more per game players right now.

As Erikson said of their work

” They are both special young men. They have elevated their games, shown what their hard work in the off season can translate to on the ice. They also both have a full buy in. They boys love them. They work hard and they generate a ton of offense and they are capitalizing on their chances.”

As to two former Charlotte Rush players, CJ Zezima and Jared Scott, Erikson made some good points about their contributions, and the importance of effort and hard work even when you do not have your best game.

He said of Zezima’s work, after he put home his first NAHL goal yesterday ” Zez has really impressed me with his growth in the Defensive zone and his ability to play all 3 Forward positions. He had great coaching with the Charlotte Rush last year with Ryan Cruthers and Troy Schwabb and you can see how it has helped his transition to us. He was a bit unlucky through 7 games hitting posts and not getting the bounces so it was great to see him put one home. But I love him on the Power Play and has prove to be a good player on the PK as well.”

On Jared Scott, who put in the rebound for the game winning goal, he added It was great, Erikson said last night, “I just said to Jared in the locker room. I thought you were terrible tonight. But what defines us as people is what we do when we don’t have it. And he hustled and beat that icing in the 3rd on the shift he scored and that changed everything. It completely changed the game. And we talk about that a lot. One play, one shift, the game can change. So don’t get too high or too low. Just focus on each play every shift.”

That same focus for the Generals is essential heading into their next series against the Johnstown Rebels. They impressed with their effort at the Showcase, and took teams all over the league, including the Lone Star Brahmas, to task with their effort and speed game that allowed them to get ahead quick and hold down leads.

As Erikson said of what to build on ” I thought our effort level was there for all 60 minutes tonight. We did a good job keeping them to the outside. We still have consistency issues and I thought Johnstown bullied us a little bit on the walls. We will need to clean that up in order to beat a good Jamestown team that is always very tough to play against.” The next test for the Generals takes place next week, as they look to continue to build on their start.

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

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Army West Point Hockey is ready to add to the tradition of the program this season: Read more

Photo Credit : Army West Point Athletics

Army West Point Hockey Head Coach Brian Riley needed a new stick. He got to the first day of the season, and realized it was time for a new stick because his previous one was sitting in his office. It is in his office with a place of honor, because that stick broke in practice during the 13 game unbeaten streak his team went on to round out the 2020-2021 regular season and first round of the postseason. Riley, while calling himself not superstitious, likes to not change things during times where his team is winning, and not changing the broken stick, or cutting his hair for the remainder of the season were two of those things. With the season ending, Riley cut his hair in short order, but the stick took on a deeper meaning. That is, the senior class all signed the broken stick, and it now resides in Riley’s office as a reminder of all that one of the best teams to ever represent West Point did last year. Now it is time to move forward for the Black Knights.

With the first day of classes done, the Army West Point Hockey team is back on campus and practicing, ready to follow up one of the best years in this program’s history. Eight seniors, including All American netminder Trevin Kozlowski lead this team to within one goal of advancing to the Atlantic Hockey Championship. Brian Riley’s group fought valiantly and was outfoxed by one of his former assistants, Trevor Large’s Canisius Golden Griffins in overtime of the Atlantic Hockey semifinals. The eight seniors now having graduated leaves holes for new players to fill, and will give the chance for returners to see their ice time increase. Power forwards like Patrick Smyth and Kendrick Frost will be able to play a big part in the middle six for this team, and provide the depth to this group in the forward ranks. Smyth is a faceoff specialist who should add depth to the penalty kill for the Black Knights, and Frost has a track record from Junior Hockey that shows the type of positive power forward he can be for this group. Riley has both of them as options to play this year. Last year he did not.

One constant for this team is returning senior co-captain Colin Bilek, the Northeast Generals Alum, and leader of this team is the returning leading goal scorer from the 2020-2021 campaign nationwide. His effervescent personality, combined with his ability to lead will play a role in how well the group does. If Bilek has a full season anywhere close to what he did last year, expect the NHL and the professional ranks to be taking notice.

As for the team’s collective action to stop the spread of Covid 19, they have all done their part .The staff and players are fully vaccinated already. The excitment of Riley’s group to play non conference games this year is evident, and Army faces two early tests out of Atlantic Hockey play. They open on the road against Providence, then two weeks later head north with their football team to Madison to take on the Badgers of Wisconsin.

As to the forming of this year’s group, Riley is happy to be back together. As he said of the early work of his group .”we’ve had three skill practices this week.. its good to just be able to get out there.” One of the honest realities Riley and his staff has to face every season is missing his seniors in this first week. As he said, “you’re looking around for your seniors and realize oh their not here anymore.”

This year’s group for Riley faces more questions on defense and in net. The group has three capable goalies with similar styles all competing to earn the number one spot. In net, the three way competition is expected to be a fun one. Returners Justin Evanson, Gavin Abric both have an outgoing personality and should battle for the net along with plebe Evan Szary. All are hard workers that expect to push the other two for time in net. On the ice, as Riley said, “all three are different styles than Trev was.” They are all athletic netminders that can get side to side very quick, and have similarities in their game to recent Lake Superior State graduate Mareks Mitens. As a result of the gulf in styles between Kozlowski and these three netminders, Riley expects some adjustment in how the team plays and prepares for each game. The three netminders have a combined two and a half games of experience amongst themselves.

As for the eight first year players or plebes, they routinely have the biggest adjustments to make. The demands of West Point always have them needing to adjust to the day to day with more on their plates. The plebes have gone seven weeks without being on the ice between Cadet Basic Training, and Reorganization Week. As Riley said, “I think it will take a couple weeks for them being comfortable back on the ice. ” They all will have to figure out how to get on, and stay on the ” train (of academic requirements, academy, and military requirements) that pulls out of the station from day one at West Point..”

Riley mentioned two of his sophomores looking to improve on their stellar plebe seasons, Lincoln Hatten and Mich Machlitt. As he said, “they certainly didn’t disappoint us as plebes.” Both have the tools and track records needed to play at an elite level. They, along with Bilek, will be expected to carry the mission up front and lead the way in points and production.

As to adjustments, in principle for Riley and his group, the underlying motto and traditions all remain. The staff does not look to implement a new theme each year, and tries to keep things consistent. Riley said it best when he said that “I’m really proud of the fact that our culture is really really good, and we just want to be a team that’s hard to play against and a team that plays for each other.”

Looking ahead to the future, Riley also touched on recruiting in a more normal year than the pandemic-marred 2021-2022 campaign. On the differences this year brings, Riley said that he is lookning forward to being able to, “just to be able to have kids on campus and go watch games… for us in the recruiting piece I believe getting kids to come to West Point is really important but most importantly it gives them the opportunity to meet the people here, I know as coaches we’re really looking forward to the year.”

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Atlantic Hockey Non Conference Showcase Games: Army West Point

Photo Credit Army West Point Athletics

Like AIC, Army West Point, and the other eight Atlantic Hockey members have a unique chance this season to showcase their conference with some key non conference wins, and with the increased availability of those games, every member has a bigger chance to do just that. We are continuing our look at big series for each team, moving to Brian Riley’s Army West Point group.

Army West Point

Key Opponent: Wisconsin

The same weekend the Black Knights Football team will look to head to Madison and earn a hard fought win that not many were exxpecting, Riley’s group gets to do the exact sme thing.

This year, the Black Knights will head into Madison with three different options in net to replace All American, and now current Iowa Wild netminder, Trevin Kozlowski. Whoever wins that competition will face a Badgers team not returning Cole Caufield, but one replete with NHL draft picks and a lot of players that have not been overlooked nearly as much as those that play for Brian Riley

Of course, Bilek and the forwards are this team’s strength on paper coming into the season. Another thing they all bring is speed, Army Hockey always seemed to be the faster team down the stretch save for a few brief stretches in their semifinal loss to Canisius. That will be tested on the biggest stage against the speed and power of the Badgers.

For Riley’s group, their job will be to get ahead of Wisconsin on the road. Easier said than done, but taking the Kohl Center crowd out of the game will go a long way to determining their fate on the weekend. What Army has going into this series, on paper at least, is a more physical defense returning with a better ability to disrupt plays and keep their opposition to the perimeter .Even their best goal scorer, Bilek, is one of their better defensive forwards, who rarely makes a goal-conceding mistake in the many minutes he plays.

If you look at how Bemidji State earned their win in the first round over Wisconsin last March, that is the effort it will take against the Badgers. While their personel will be a little different, their top end skill will still be there, as will their ability to put up goals in bunches. Brian Riley often talks about how his sport, the men he leads, are a part of a collective leadership lab. For the veterans he leads, it is a chance to show resilience after the way last season ended. For his basic cadets, and underclassmen, it is a chance to make their own mark on this program right away, and begin a new tradition. In the non conference landscape for Atlantic Hockey, Army has a chance to make the college hockey world pay attention to them early on, as they will have a Hobey Baker Candidate in Colin Bilek, and his team facing the Badgers on a national stage.

October cannot come fast enough.

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