Army opened the month of November with a 1-3 record, scoring just four goals in those four games. But things began to turn around offensively for the Black Knights two weeks ago at Bentley, when Army scored eight times in a series split with the Falcons.
Last weekend, hosting a Canisius team that had posted three shutouts in its past three games, the Black Knights found the back of the net 11 times in a 4-1, 7-2 sweep of the Golden Griffins.
“We didn’t change a thing,” said Army coach Brian Riley. “I wish I knew what was different because we’d do it all the time.”
Riley says his squad had been pressing, but once the floodgates opened, his team found its scoring touch.
“Pucks that weren’t going in started to go in,” said Riley. “Once that happens, it raises the confidence level.”
Three players racked up four points apiece. Cody Omilusik, Erik Sefchik and Andy Starczewski each had two goals and two assists. Omilusik has eight points in his last four games.
Defensively, it was more of the same for Army. While its offense sputtered for a while, defense kept the Black Knights in most of their games. Army has given up more than two goals just twice in its last eight games.
“I’ve been proud all season of our defense,” said Riley. “We’ve been good all year. It’s nice to see that hard work pay off on the other end.”
The Black Knights host Sacred Heart this weekend, but they have already had plenty of excitement this week, as President Obama was on campus on Tuesday to deliver an address to the nation.
“It was pretty crazy here,” said Riley. “But were able to get our practice in on Tuesday and watch [the address] as a team.”
Player of the Week for Nov. 30, 2009:
Everett Sheen — Holy Cross
The junior captain tallied three goals and an assist as the Crusaders beat UConn 5-0 and dropped a 7-3 decision to Yale. Sheen’s 12 points is tops on the team this season.
Goalie of the Week for Nov. 30, 2009:
Ryan Zapolski — Mercyhurst
Zapolski stopped 67 of 69 shots to lead the Lakers to a sweep of AIC. He posted a 2-0 shutout on Saturday, the fifth of his career.
Rookie of the Week for Nov. 30, 2009:
Andy Starczewski — Army
The Whitesboro, N.Y., native had a pair of goals and a pair of assists to help the Black Knights to a 4-1, 7-2 sweep of Canisius.
Player of the Month for November 2009:
Cory Conacher — Canisius
Conacher racked up 13 points (eight goals and five assists) in November. Through 14 games to date, the junior has already matched his career high for goals in a season (12).
Other players nominated: Cody Omilusik, Army; Michael Coppola, Connecticut; Mike Gurtler, Mercyhurst; Andrew Favot, RIT.
Goalie of the Month for November 2009:
Andrew Volkening — Air Force
The senior allowed just nine goals in seven games last month. Volkening has 59 career wins to date, including 13 shutouts.
Other goalies nominated: Jay Clark, Army; Thomas Tysowsky, Holy Cross; Jared DeMichiel, RIT.
Rookie of the Month for November 2009:
Brett Hartung — Bentley
Hartung had four goals in November, tops on the team. The highlight was on Nov. 21, when he scored twice to lead the Falcons to a 4-3 win over Army.
Other rookies nominated: Alex Gerke, Connecticut; Rob Linsmayer, Holy Cross; Adam Hartley, RIT.
Lovin’ the Shootout
The CCHA may use the shootout on a regular basis, but it was an Atlantic Hockey team that came out on top in the consolation game of the RPI Holiday Tournament. Bentley bested Lake Superior State in the shootout that followed a 2-2 tie. Mark Menzione and Dustin Cloutier successfully converted their chances, while Kyle Rank stopped all three Laker shooters. Rank made a career-high 49 saves in the game.
Outshooting But Not Outscoring
The AIC Yellow Jackets are struggling, losing their last four games by a combined score of 21-2. Last weekend’s series against Mercyhurst must have been especially frustrating, because despite outshooting the Lakers in both games, AIC lost 8-2 and 2-0. Shots were 35-31 in favor of AIC on Friday, and 36-34 on Saturday.
When Army’s Owen Meyer scored at 5:27 of the second period on Friday, it snapped a scoreless streak by Canisius of 213:12, the seventh longest in NCAA history. The Griffins had posted shutouts in their previous three games, just the ninth time in history that a team had accomplished that feat.
Streak on the Line
RIT was idle last week, so the Tigers will put their NCAA-longest eight-game winning streak back on the line this weekend with a pair of games at Holy Cross. RIT went undefeated in November for the first time in the school’s Division I era, and also enters December with a winning record for the first time since the Tigers moved up from Division III.
USCHO covers Atlantic Hockey all week long on the Atlantic Hockey Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.