WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — When it rains, it pours.
After splitting two very low-scoring affairs earlier in the season, Army outlasted American International College in an 8-6 Atlantic Hockey shootout at the Olympia Ice Center on Friday.
Owen Meyer and Eric Sefchik each scored two goals and added an assist for the Black Knights. Mike Hull also contributed four helpers. Nielsson Arcibal countered with three points for AIC.
Friday night was the highest scoring game between the two teams since Army secured a 16-3 win on February 16, 1984.
It wasnt pretty. It felt like one of those games where whoever had the puck for the last shot was gonna win, said Army head coach Brian Riley
The goals came early and often, with the Black Knights the first to get on the board. Just 1:55 into the first period, Mike Santee scored on a backhand when Mark Dubes slap shot from the point hit an AIC defender and dropped at Santees feet.
Less than two minutes later, AIC tied the game on a rush by Tom Mele. His first shot was blocked upon entering the attacking zone, but the puck bounced back to him and his second shot snuck through the Army defense and past goaltender Jay Clark.
Midway through the period, Army regained the lead while on the power play. After several crisp passes, Hull found Cody Omilusik positioned down low and Omilusik backhanded the puck past AIC goalie Ben Meisner.
Once again, AIC tied the game two minutes later. This time, Adam Pleskach collected a pass from Arcibal on the steps of the crease and slid it through the legs of Clark.
The goal was Pleskachs 15th of the season, the most among freshmen in Atlantic Hockey.
At the 18:17 mark, Army regained their one goal lead, when Meyer scored his first goal of the game. Hull and Bryant Skarda were credited with assists.
Army carried the 3-2 lead into the locker room.
Just over eight minutes into the second period, AIC evened the game. From deep inside his own zone, Pleskach fired a cross-ice pass to Arcibal at the far blue line. He dropped the puck to Steve McLeod, who gave it right back and Arcibal found the back of the net.
Lax defense by the Yellow Jackets in the eleventh minute enabled Army to steal back the lead. With AIC on the power play, they gave up the puck to Meyer. Just inside the AIC blue line, Meyer left the puck for Hull and snuck in behind the AIC defense. Hull found him in front of the net and Meyer swatted away at the puck until it crossed the line.
Meyers tally was the 62nd of his career, firmly planting him among the top five goal scorers in Atlantic Hockey history.
Army continued to apply steady pressure, and three minutes later, Alex McRae tipped a Pat Copeland shot past Meisner to go ahead 5-3.
Army closed out the period with another power play goal. From just inside the right faceoff circle, Skarda one-timed a Kyle Maggard cross-ice pass to extend the lead to 6-3.
AIC mounted a comeback in the third period. Two of their early offensive chances hit the post but Greg Vatrano was finally able to capitalize at 3:34, when he spun off a hit in the left circle and beat Clark between the legs.
Chris Markiewicz closed the gap to one goal a few minutes later. From behind the net, Mike McMillan threw a behind-the-back pass in front of the net. Markiewicz collected it and beat Clark near side.
That was a close as AIC would get, though.
Forty-three seconds later, with Rob Blanchette in the box for cross-checking, Sefchik collected his own rebound from a point blank shot and scored.
Two minutes later, Omilusik sprung Sefchik on a breakaway. With a deke to his backhand, Sefchik scored Armys eighth goal of the night.
AIC pulled Meisner for Dan Ramirez, at that point.
At 11:57, Jeff Ceccacci scored AICs last goal of the evening, a shorthanded wrister from the tops of the circles.
Army (11-16-6 overall, 10-12-5 in Atlantic Hockey) finished the night 3-8 on the power play, while also snagging 2 shorthanded goals. AIC (5-23-3, 5-19-3) couldnt contribute any of their four man advantage chances, but did score a shorthanded goal of their own.
It was kind of an uncharacteristic game, maybe, for both teams, said AIC head coach Gary Wright. With respect to us, I thought we were sloppy. I thought we took too many penalties.
The two teams finish off their regular season on Saturday night at Tate Rink in West Point, N.Y.