ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Army West Point hockey team capped its season with a 1-0 deficit in the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals Friday night. The Black Knights fell to service academy rival Air Force to finish their season 18-14-5.
“It was another Army Air Force hockey game, where it comes down to the goalie heading to the bench at the end,” said head coach Brian Riley. “Parker was great for us and their goalie was great for them. We threw everything at them in the third period. We were fighting for our lives and I was just waiting for the red light to go on after a few good looks, but they just didn’t. We talked about keep funneling pucks to the net, but we couldn’t get one by them.
“These guys have been a lot of fun to be around every day. I told the seniors that you always want to leave a place better than when you got there and man oh man did they do that.”
“It has been an honor to play at Army,” said senior goaltender Parker Gahagen. “From where we started to where we are now, it is a great representation of our class. Our goal coming in here was to make the team and program better and I think we accomplished that.”
ARMY HIGHLIGHTS AND GAME NOTES
The Black Knights capped the season with an 18-14-5 record. It was the most wins in a season since 2007-08 when Army had 19 victories.
This was the Black Knights’ second straight appearance in the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals with both contests ending with a 1-0 score. It was the first time since the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons that they appeared back-to-back.
Neither team scored on the power play tonight. Army led the contest with 29 shots to Air Force’s 23. Twelve of the Black Knight’s shots came in the third period.
Gahagen posted 22 saves in the game and now boasts 3,172 in his decorated career.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Gahagen picked up a save in the first frame when the puck rolled dangerously close to the goal line at the 12:49 mark before standing up to stop a shot.
Taylor Maruya went on a breakaway against Shane Starrett, but the puck went wide left to keep the game scoreless.
While the Black Knights were killing off a hooking penalty, Air Force had a near chance when Phil Boje’s shot was redirected and nicked the crossbar with 10:29 on the clock.
With 5:35 to go in the first, Wilkinson found a hole through the scrum in front, but knocked the puck off Starrett’s pads so the score remained knotted at 0-0.
Just 50 seconds into the second stanza, the Falcons contested Gahagen with a slew of shots, but he dove backwards towards the puck and barely prevented it from crossing the line.
Army saw a handful of opportunities in the second stanza. Brendan Soucie started things off with a breakaway with Trevor Fidler, but a diving block by an Air Force defender prevented a quality shot to be taken.
At the 8:57 mark, Air Force found the back of the net after taking 16 shots. The Falcons took advantage of a loose rebound and were able to find Gahagen out of position to go ahead 1-0.
Tipper Higgins got a shot off two minutes into the final frame which was redirected by Maruya, but it was pushed aside by Starrett.
With 13:28 on the clock, Michael Wilson took a shot that nearly went past Starrett, but he remained perfect in net with the save.
C.J. Reuschlein fought up the left side and shot to the near post and batted at his rebound, but it was no dice and the Black Knights continued to trail the Falcons with four minutes to go.
The game was extremely even throughout, but the Falcons were able to convert in the second period to take a 1-0 lead that they would not relinquish.
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