Senior forwards bear high expectations for Army

Two years ago, Army’s line of Owen Mayer, Eric Sefchik and Cody Omilusik was one of the best in Atlantic Hockey. Last season, only Omilusik remained, and he was the Black Knights’ chief offensive weapon, tallying 18 goals.

But with Omilusik now gone, coach Brian Riley needs some or all of his large senior class to step up.

“Offensively, it’s a huge challenge for us,” he said. “We need everybody to raise their level and contribute more offensively to be a better team.”

Danny Colvin and Mike Hull lead a group of four senior forwards.

“Mike Hull can be a top forward in this league,” said Riley. “Danny Colvin was tied for most points on the team (31). Up front we need them very involved as well as our ‘D’, especially ‘Alvy’ (senior defenseman Marcel Alvarez).”

Ryan Leets returns between the pipes. He started most of the big games for the Black Knights in the second half of last season, posting a .916 save percentage.

“The guys really like playing in front of [Leets],” said Riley. “He’s a hard worker and guys appreciate his approach to the game.”

Freshman Rob Tadazak will compete with Leets. He comes in highly touted.

“He was the North American Hockey League player of the year,” said Riley. “We’ll have plenty of depth in goal.”

And depth in terms of experience. There are 12 seniors in all on the Army roster this season, one of its largest classes ever.

“There are so many but it’s a close-knit group,” said Riley. “They’ve done a great job taking the leadership roles. They’re determined to make their senior year their best year.”

About the Black Knights

2010-11 overall record: 11-20-4

2010-11 AHA record: 10-13-4 (ninth)

2011-12 predicted finish (coaches poll): Eighth

Key losses: Cody Omilusik (F), Jay Clark (G)

Players to watch: Ryan Leets (jr., G), Mark Dube (sr., F), Marcel Alvarez (sr., D)

Impact rookie: Maurice Alvarez looks to follow in his all-star brother’s footsteps. He had 37 points from the blue line last season in juniors.

Why the Black Knights will finish higher than the coaches poll: This senior-laded squad looks to be improved on defense. If the Black Knights get their goals per game above three, they’ll win a lot more games.

Why the Black Knights will finish lower than the coaches poll: Army’s defense will be fine. But the Black Knights could struggle putting the puck in the net.