WEST POINT, N.Y. — Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, doesn’t get a chance to see the Black Knights’ hockey team all that often.
Maybe someone at West Point ought to do something about that.
In front of a crowd that included the Chief of Staff, Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. William J. Lennox, Jr., and legendary Army coach Jack Riley, sophomore goalie Treye Kettwick recorded his first shutout for the Black Knights, making a career-high 38 saves as the Cadets upset defending Atlantic Hockey champion Holy Cross.
“Our guys have been working real hard,” said Army coach Brian Riley, whose team improves to 2-6-1 (1-4- 1 Atlantic Hockey) with the win. “That, to me, is the best thing [about the win]. Our staff is really happy to be able to see the guys in the locker room after you have a win like this against a team like Holy Cross.”
“I thought they did a better job of coming up with loose pucks than we did,” Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl said, as the Crusaders dropped to 3-3-2 (1-2-1 AH). “If you’re not going to score goals, you’ve got to play perfect defensively.”
Of course, the model of perfection in this game was Kettwick, who got his first career shutout Friday, along with his second win since replacing the injured Brad Roberts in the Army net on Oct. 22.
“It was a big thing when he went down,” Kettwick said, “and I knew I had to step in and give the team a chance to win when I got in the net. I had to give them confidence, and I think I’ve done that so far.”
Army certainly showed confidence in the first period, which was an intense, physical, and scoreless affair. The Black Knights used their aggressive forecheck to keep the puck in the Crusaders’ end, while Holy Cross goalkeeper Tony Quesada stopped all 11 Army shots, including several quality chances. The Crusaders made some headway later in the period, but Kettwick was up to the task, stopping all 10 shots he faced.
Army survived some scary moments early in the second, as both Kettwick and one of his defensemen lost their sticks during a Holy Cross power play. However, the Black Knights weathered the storm, and created one of their own on a breakaway near the midpoint of the period, which resulted in a goal for Michael Picone and a 1-0 Army lead.
“We caught them on a change,” Picone said. “We hopped out on the ice real quick. It was just a good transition play. [Black Knights captain Chad] Fifield just cut back and just found me up the middle.”
The Knights had to work hard to hold onto their lead, though, as Chris Colvin put a hit on the Crusaders’ Chris Sullivan that sent both men out of the game: Sullivan with an injury, and Colvin with a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind. Kettwick and the Army defense held strong, though, killing off the major to leave it a 1-0 game at the second intermission.
“The major was huge,” Kettwick said. “I think that was the turning point of the game. You get a major at the end of the period like that , they have all the momentum. They’re able to get a couple of shots right away. After the first two minutes, then we started to get the puck out of the zone, and they couldn’t rebuild. All the momentum was swinging our way, the crowd was getting into it, and everyone was really excited. It was great.”
It got even better for the Black Knights early in the third, as Army made it 2-0 with a power-play goal with 3:46 gone in the period. Senior defenseman Nick Cahill’s shot from the point found the back of the net, sneaking through Quesada’s five-hole for the two-goal advantage.
From there, it was all Kettwick, as the DeWitt, Iowa, native stopped all nine shots he faced in the final frame, completing the first shutout of his career Following the game, Lennox presented Kettwick with the Superintendent’s Coin, awarded for a special occasion or a job well done.
“It’s a pretty big deal here,” Kettwick said of his reward. “It’s for outstanding achievement, so I’m thrilled to get something like that. It’s awesome.”
The Crusaders will have a quick chance to exact revenge on Saturday night, as these two teams will meet again. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at Tate Rink.
Elliot Olshansky is an assistant editor for CollegeSports.com.