WEST POINT, N.Y. — Bryce Hollweg netted the game winner two minutes into the third period and Josh Kassel held off the RIT offense down the stretch with several big saves as the Army hockey team defeated RIT, 2-1, Friday night in front of a season-best crowd of 1,988 fans at West Point’s Tate Rink.
The Black Knights (9-6-3, 7-3-3 AHA) snapped a six-game winless streak with the win, while putting and end to the Tigers (8-6-2, 8-3-1 AHA) run of five straight victories.
After a slow first period that both teams used to skate away any rust collected over the Christmas break, the Tigers cracked the scoreboard with a goal by Brennan Sarazin 2:35 into the second period for a 1-0 advantage.
The goal by RIT woke up the Army offense who quickly responded with a tally of their own a little more than three minutes later. Army was given a power play chance when Sarazin was sent to the box for two minutes for interference and it would capitalize 10 seconds into the penalty. Hollweg won the ensuing face-off, sending the puck to Luke Flicek who then feed Tim Manthey in the slot. Manthey then ripped a shop from the point for his fourth goal of the season evening the score at 1.
The Tigers missed a golden opportunity to reclaim the lead in the final four minutes of the second frame. Army had to hold off a 5-on-3 penalty kill for more than one minute, but Kassel and the Black Knights defense were up to the task keeping the nations third ranked power play unit at bay.
The momentum from Army’s stellar penalty kill at the end of the second period carried over into the third, eventually leading to the game-winner. Simon Lambert took a two-minute penalty opening the door for the Black Knight’s second power play goal of the night against the countries seventh-best penalty kill unit.
Hollweg ended a string of nice passing along the boards to ram home his fifth goal of the year. Flicek picked up his second assist and team-leading 18th point of the season by passing it to Owen Meyer in the corner who then fed Hollweg in front for the game-winner.
Army’s goaltending and special teams play proved to be the difference in the inaugural meeting of the new Atlantic Hockey rivals. Kassel capped his stellar performance with 32 saves, including 18 during the final 20 minutes of the contest. The Black Knights held the Tigers scoreless on their five penalty kill tries and converted on two of their ten power play chances. RIT goalie Jocelyn Guimond finished with 27 saves.
Army and RIT lace up their skates for game two of the weekend series tomorrow night. Face-off at Tate Rink is slated for 7 p.m.