Hockey Hits the Road for Two
Black Knights Visit Mercyhurst for First Road Series
WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Army hockey team is heading out on the road for the first time this season for a two-game series at Mercyhurst, starting on Friday night at the Mercyhurst Ice Center. The Black Knights played their first seven games on home ice at Tate Rink.
Game times for this weekend are set for 7:05 p.m. and both games can be heard locally on 1260 WBNR –AM or 1420 WLNA-AM.
THIS WEEK: ROAD TRIP FOR TWO AT MERCYHURST
The Black Knights hit the road for the first time in 2014-15 with a visit to Erie, Pa., for a pair of league contests at Mercyhurst. The trip starts a tough road stretch for Army with seven games away from Tate Rink in its next nine games. Mercyhurst has split the first six games of its season with highlighted wins versus Merrimack and at fourth-ranked Colgate. if the script stays true this weekend for the Lakers, the best chance for the Black Knights comes on Friday night as Mercyhurst has yet to win on the opening night of a two-game series. However, the Lakers have come back on Saturday and are a perfect 3-0 on the year. The last two have been one-goal wins. They are averaging just over 2.3 goals per game and have allowed 3.17 per contest. The power play has no power as of last week with just two goals in the first 27 chances of the season.
NEXT WEEK: HOLY CROSS AT TATE
The Black Knights return to Tate Rink for its fourth conference home weekend of the season on Nov. 14 and 15. The Crusaders have started the league season with a four-game unbeaten streak with a 2-0-2 mark in conference with wins over American International and Sacred Heart. They are 2-4-2 overall with two losses each to Merrimack and Penn State. They were outscored 10-2 in the series against the Nittany Lions on the road. Last weekend, they shutout the Pioneers, 3-0, on Friday night in Connecticut and the two teams skated to a 2-2 tie on Saturday at Holy Cross. The Crusaders are averaging under two goals a game and are giving up 2.6 per contest.
LAST TIME OUT: POWER PLAY NOT ENOUGH AGAINST BROWN
The seven-game homestand to begin the season came to an end last Friday night and Brown earned a 4-2 win over the Black Knights. It was the season opener for the Bears. The Black Knights got power play goals from Shane Hearn and Joe Kozlak in the loss. Cole Bruns earned the start between the pipes and made a season-high 32 stops. Army was 2-for-4 with the man advantage. Mac Lalor had a great night from the blueline with two assists to lead all point-getters for the Black Knights. The Black Knights have scored three power play goals in their last two games. Hearn was the 10th player to score a goal this season and Lalor got on the scoresheet for the first time this year.
The series with Mercyhurst takes on a new meaning for head coach Brian Riley this year as his son Jack starts his collegiate career with the Lakers. Riley has already got on the scoresheet this season as a forward with a pair of helpers coming in his third career game and first start. He tallied two assists in a 3-2 win for Mercyhurst at home against Merrimack on Oct. 25. He has played at the left wing and has appeared mostly on the third line. Riley played two seasons for the New Jersey Hitmen before arriving at Mercyhurst and went to South Kent School in Connecticut, where he played hockey and lacrosse.
The power play has been improving over the last five games with five goals on 20 chances for a 25-percent success rate. The recent top power play unit up front with Tyler Pham, Conor Andrle and Clint Carlisle has sustained a lot of pressure on the opponent power play. However, against the Bears it was a unit of Shane Hearn, Joe Kozlak and Zak Zaremba that got the job done. Mac Lalor and Ryan Nick provided great poise on the blueline as well. Lalor finished with two assists and Nick had a helper as well. The five power play goals have come from four skaters with Maurice Alvarez leading the way with two, which have come as blasts from the point.
The Black Knights fought back multiple times against the Colonials on Oct. 25 and played their first overtime game in over a year. The last time Army played past regulation was on Feb. 16, 2013 against Bentley when the teams played to a 2-2 tie. Last year, Army played in seven, one-goal games, but never went over the game time of 60 minutes.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first period has been Army’s best frame with the Black Knights outscoring opponents 5-2. They have netted the first goal in three of the seven games and sit at 2-1 when finding the net first. Army is 2-3 when taking the lead or tied after the first stanza so far this season. The Black Knights had three goals in the opening period against Canisius on Oct. 17 and on Oct. 24 Robert Morris became the first team to score on Army in the first frame this year. Brown and the Black Knights were tied after one period of play last week.
NO “I” IN TEAM
Army has scored 15 goals this season and they have come from 10 different skaters. Hearn became the 10th player to score and it was on the power play in the first period against Brown last Friday. Kozlak joined Pham, Alvarez, McGuire and Reuschlein as multiple goal scorers this year with his first power play tally in the third period with a redirection off of a Lalor shot from the point.
The one thing that Army is not shy about on the scoresheet is shots on goal. The Black Knights have recorded 30 or more shots in all seven games this season. Twice they have reached 40 shots. The first came against Sacred Heart in game two of the year, followed by the tie with RMU. Army is averaging 35 shots on goal per game and the Black Knights are allowing 32.7 to their opponents. So if you are looking for exciting action on the ice, Army is the team to watch.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
The Atlantic Hockey standings didn’t change much from last week with Robert Morris remaining unbeaten with two wins over RIT to put the Colonials at 5-0-1 in league play for 11 points. They remain unbeaten overall and jumped into the USCHO National Poll this week at No. 18 in the country. American International made a move in the standings with a sweep at Niagara and the Yellow Jackets are tied with Army and Sacred Heart for fourth with five points. All three schools have identical 2-3-1 records in conference matchups. Canisius and Holy Cross are now tied for second with the Crusaders earning three points with a win and a tie at home against Sacred Heart. The Golden Griffins hosted Ohio State in their first game at the new Harborcenter.
SCOUTING THE LAKERS
Mercyhurst enters the weekend with a 3-3-0 record overall and a 1-1-0 mark in conference play. The Lakers have enjoyed success on Saturday nights this season and not Fridays. They have shown the ability to bounce back after a Friday night defeat and earn a victory the next night. Mercyhurst has also played in one-goal games in three of its last four games and is 2-1 in those contests. Last weekend, the Lakers were shut out by a 4-0 score on Friday against fourth-ranked Colgate on the road. The next night they came back and squeezed out a 2-1 win to split the series. They are scoring just over 2.3 goals per game and have allowed four or more in half of their matchups this year.
The Lakers are led by a pair of seniors, along with a rookie and a junior. Rookie Jonathan Charbonneau has impressed so far with four points on two goals and two assists. He gave Mercyhurst an early lead against the Raiders in the last game with his second of the year coming in the first period. Senior Matthew Zay and junior defenseman Anthony Mastrodicasa each have a goal and three assists apiece for four points. Zay has put a power play goal on the scoreboard and Mastrodicasa has tallied all of his points in non-league games. Senior Zac Frischmon is the team leader in assists with four. The Lakers put an experienced team on the ice with eight players appearing in over 110 career games.
The experience is no different in net with Jimmy Sarjeant as the senior has seen action in 42 career games between the pipes. This year he has started all six contests and has a 3.15 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. He stood on his head against Colgate on Saturday with 39 saves, including 19 in the final period, to earn the 2-1 win. He has a 22-8-7 overall record in his career with a .925 save percentage and a 2.64 goals against.
Friday night will be the 45th meeting all-time between Army and Mercyhurst with the Lakers holding a 31-9-4 advantage in the series. The Lakers have only lost once at home against the Black Knights since the matchup began in 2000. They have been unbeaten in the last 16 games and are riding a five-game winning streak heading into the weekend. The first game in the series was on Dec. 9, 2000 and Mercyhurst took home a 2-1 victory. The two teams last hooked up in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs back in 2013 with the Lakers winning in two games.