SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Behind a four-goal first period and 27 saves from rookie Cole Bruns, the Army hockey team was able to hold off AIC for a 4-3 win on Saturday night at Olympia Ice Center.
Last night, Army outshot the Yellow Jackets by a large margin, but beat the netminder twice. Tonight the puck seemed to bounce the Black Knights’ way with three goals coming in the first 8:28 of the opening period.
“We didn’t get the bounces last night, but tonight we were able to find the back of the net,” head coach Brian Riley said. “Guys were making great plays and we got off to a great start. Giving them a goal with 15 seconds left in the first is not how you want to end the period, but our guys responded and did a great job.”
Goaltender Cole Bruns earned his first collegiate win tonight with 27 saves between the pipes, including 12 in the final period.
“It was great for Bruns to get his first win and we are going to need him because we need two goalies,” Riley said. “He has played well this season and we haven’t given him good support from a goal standpoint, so it is a huge plus to see him get his first win here tonight.”
Tyler Pham recorded three points in the win with a goal and two assists, while C.J. Reuschlein tallied two points on a goal and a helper. Zak Zaremba and Joe Kozlak also got on the scoresheet with goals as Army had four different goal scorers. Conor Andrle finished with two points on a pair of helpers as well.
American International (3-13-4, 3-7-4 AHA) scored three unanswered goals to make the game interesting down the stretch. Johno May and David Gandara each scored their second goals of the weekend and Nathan Sliwinski tallied a power play goal in the second period. Hunter Leisner was chased after just 9:37 into the first period after getting the start. Alex Murray came in and calmed things down with 22 saves with nine coming in the 10-plus minutes played in the opening frame. Unfortunately for Murray, he took the loss since he gave up the fourth goal in the first period.
The Black Knights (5-13-2, 5-11-2 AHA) jumped out to an early advantage with two goals in a span of two minutes in the first 6:40 of the game. Pham got the game started with his seventh of the season with assists to Reuschlein and Andrle. He found himself all alone in front and beat Leisner for the 1-0 lead with 15:20 remaining. Zaremba then took a loose puck in the neutral zone and started a 2-on-1 and he finished it with his third of the year to put Army up 2-0. Andrew O’Leary was awarded an assist on the play as he touched the puck in the neutral zone.
The outburst continued as Reuschlein netted his second of the series and fifth of the season to give Army a 3-0 advantage less than two minutes after Zaremba’s tally. Pham was given the assist on the play for the first of his two in the period. Army increased its lead to 4-0 with Kozlak jamming home a rebound in front on the power play for his fourth of the year and second on the man advantage. Maurice Alvarez got on the scoresheet with an assist and Pham made it three points in the period with his second helper.
The Yellow Jackets took some momentum into the break with a goal coming with 15 seconds left as May potting his second of the weekend with MacMilllan adding the helper. Army outshot AIC, 15-7 in the frame and chased Leisner after the third goal of the game.
American International used that final goal of the first and turned it into a 10-7 shot advantage in the second and cut the lead to 4-2 at the end of 40 minutes. Sliwinski made it a 4-2 game with 7:40 left in the middle frame. The power play goal came off the faceoff as Orszulak won it back to Sliwinski in the slot and he rifled one past Bruns for AIC’s second of the night. Army was on its heels for parts of the frame, but was able to take the two-goal lead into the third period.
The lead was cut down to one at 4-3 with 4:51 left in the third as Gandara scored off a rebound in front with assists to Jordan Popek and MacMillan for his second of the night.
Army was able to hold on as Bruns made a couple of saves in the final seconds, even after AIC was called for boarding with less than a minute remaining. The 4-3 win ends a three-game losing streak for the Black Knights. Army lost the shot battle as AIC had a 30-28 shot advantage and were outshot 23-13 after the first period.
Army is back on the ice for one game next weekend with former Atlantic Hockey foe Connecticut coming to Tate Rink for a 7:05 p.m. start on Friday, Jan. 9. Tickets are still available and came be purchased online at goarmysports.com or by calling 1-877-TIX-ARMY.
Ice Shavings: This was the 86th meeting between AIC and Army since the first meeting back in 1954 … the Yellow Jackets had their three-game winning streak over Army snapped … it was Army’s 58th win over AIC, which is most against any opponent in program history … all-time series sits at 58-22-6 … Bruns made his eighth start of the season … Army scored four goals in a frame for the first time since Feb. 18, 2011 against AIC … the last time Army scored four unanswered goals was against Holy Cross on Oct. 27, 2012 in a 7-2 win on the road … Pham has tallied points in five of his last six games … Reuschlein added his first multi-point game of the season … Andrle added his third multi-point game of the season.