ERIE, Pa. — Mercyhurst’s David Wrigley beamed a smile that extended from ear to ear as he left the locker room at the Mercyhurst Ice Center on Friday.
Wrigley had every reason to smile. His hat trick plus one — four goals in all — led Mercyhurst to a 7-2 victory over Army in the Lakers’ Atlantic Hockey Association home opener in front of a crowd of 1,000.
“We were flying tonight,” said Wrigley, who led Mercyhurst with 17 goals last year but didn’t get his first goal of the season until Friday. “It was just a great game for us.”
Wrigley scored Mercyhurst’s first, third, fourth and sixth goals. His first goal, which came at 9 minutes, 36 seconds of the first period, brought the Lakers back from a 1-0 deficit after Army captain Jon Boyle had scored five minutes earlier.
“David is a very talented offensive player, and when he works hard offensively, he gets more offensive opportunities,” Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin said after watching his team improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the AHA.
“I’m not surprised that he got four goals,” said Gotkin, whose 16-year record at Mercyhurst improved to 281-156-26. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he got four goals a night, that’s how good he is offensively.”
Other than in juniors, it was the first time Wrigley, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior forward from Washago, Ontario, had scored four goals in a game.
Like Wrigley, Gotkin was also smiling. And it wasn’t just because his team won for him on his birthday.
“We had a very good team effort,” he said. “Top to bottom, all four lines, all six defensemen, Andy Franck in goal, they all played very well. We were also great in transition from our end of the ice to the offensive zone, and we scored some timely goals.”
Also scoring for Mercyhurst were freshman center Kyle Gourgon, sophomore center Scott Reynolds and junior center Rich Hansen. It was the first goal of the season for Gourgon and Reynolds, and Hansen’s second.
Gourgon’s goal, at 13:36 of the first period, came after a pass from linemate Jon Asselstine, another freshman, and put the Lakers into the lead for good, at 2-1.
Reynolds’ goal, a shorthanded score at the 19-second mark of the third period, came after Wrigley’s two second-period goals, and increased the Lakers’ lead to 5-1.
After Army’s Seth Beamer scored during a goalmouth scramble at 12:12 of the third to cut the score to 5-2, Wrigley made it 6-2 at 13:55, and Hansen closed the scoring at 18:47.
Beamer’s goal was his second of the season, while Boyle’s was his first.
“They (Mercyhurst) just outclassed us,” said Army coach Rob Riley, in his 17th season (247-272-31). “We had a pretty good first couple of minutes, but once they scored, they just kept going. They deserved to win.”
Boyle said that his goal, which gave Army its short-lived lead, created momentum for the Black Knights (2-2-1 overall, 1-1-1 AHA), but it didn’t last long.
“The first five minutes I thought we had everything going really well,” Boyle said. “We were running a fore-check pretty aggressively, and Justin Fagan fed me a great pass which I was lucky enough to get past the goalie.
“But things quickly changed,” Boyle said. “We gave them too many odd-man rushes and breakaways. Mercyhurst is a really good team, and if you do those things against them, they’re going to bury you.”
Mercyhurst outshot the Black Knights, 37-23. Franck, a sophomore, made 21 saves to improve his record to 3-1.
Brad Roberts, a sophomore, who started in goal for Army, stopped 29 of the 35 shots he faced. Backup goalie Treye Kettwick, a freshman, replaced Roberts with 5:46 remaining in regulation, and allowed one goal in two shots.
Mercyhurst returns to action with a home game on Saturday versus Connecticut, while Army visits Canisius. Both are AHA games.