WEST POINT, N.Y — Mercyhurst’s special teams powered the Lakers to a 3-1 victory over Army Friday night.
The Lakers chipped in with two power-play goals and four successful penalty kills.
The Black Knights took two penalties in the first period and while they killed off the first, the second proved costly.
The Lakers controlled the play and set up a tap-in goal for Chris Bodo. Tyler Shiplo started it off with some fancy passing and found Kyle Cook, who one-timed a pass to Bodo, who quickly snapped it in from the high slot, beating Army goaltender Rob Tadazak on the glove side at 17:31 and making it 1-0 Mercyhurst.
Midway through the second period, Mercyhurst went on another power play.
After a faceoff win in the Lakers’ offensive zone, Kyle Just found Matt Zay in the corner, who fired a pass to a wide-open Daniel O’Donoghue. The puck took a quick deflection and slid underneath Tadazak, giving Zay his 12th goal of the year at 10:58 and adding to his Atlantic Hockey-leading 30 points on the season.
Army coach Brian Riley decided to call a time out to get his team to regroup.
“At that time of the game, our one line had been out there a long time and their first line could smell blood in the water,” said Riley. “So we obviously wanted to get a fresh line out there and settle down and get the next goal.”
A persistent forecheck from Army fourth-liner Ryan Nick caused a turnover to Andrew O’Leary, who wristed a shot from the left hash mark that beat Mercyhurst goaltender Jimmy Sarjeant over the left shoulder and making the score 2-1 at 12:52 of the second.
“On paper, they are our fourth line, but in the past two games, they’re the line that has scored,” said Riley. “They are playing as well as anyone. They worked hard, they forechecked well, they blocked shots and put one in the back of the net, so we need some of our other top-end guys to step up because it is hard to win when you only score one goal.”
With momentum going Army’s way and less than two minutes left in the period, Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin used his timeout.
“I didn’t say anything profound during the timeout,” Gotkin said. “Just to take care of the puck and obviously, the goal there was big and I thought Army played a very good game. It was a terrific hockey game.”
With 17 seconds left in the second, O’Donoghue scored his ninth goal of the year when he and Grant Gettinger capitalized on a give-and-go. After receiving the initial pass, Gettinger found O’Donoghue at the right circle and blasted a one-time slap shot past Tadazak.
“They were sitting back in their neutral zone and I saw Matt Zay springing for a breakaway and unfortunately, that didn’t work out,” said O’Donoghue. “He found me in the slot again and I found Grant Gettinger and he gave me a great pass back and I got into a great shooting area and was able to put it under the bar.”
The third period was energized and fast-paced, but ended up scoreless.
Zay and O’Donoghue currently sit first and second in the AHA points standings.
O’Donoghue spoke about playing with Zay after the game.
“I had the opportunity to play with Matt in junior hockey and growing up together playing against one another,” O’Donoghue said. “Once we joined the same team and our coach put us on a line together, it worked. We’ve found our niche this year and we have really taken off. When we are going with our other winger, Daniel Bahntge, we are really hard to stop.”