Jan. 23, 2009

Courtesy of Army

THE MATCHUP: The Army hockey team will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., for a weekend series against rival Air Force. Games on Friday and Saturday are scheduled for 9:05 ET at the Cadet Ice Arena at the United States Air Force Academy.

The Black Knights are unbeaten in their last five games (3-0-2) and stand at 7-12-3 overall and 6-7-3 in the Atlantic Hockey Association entering the weekend.

Air Force, which opened the season with a 13-game winning streak, is 15-6-1 overall and 12-3-1 in league games. The Falcons, ranked 20th in the latest USCHO.com/CBS College Sports Network national poll, have lost their last three games and fallen out of first-place in the conference.

HOW TO FOLLOW THE ACTION: Tony Morino will have the radio call for both games from Colorado. The games will be carried in the Hudson Valley on WBNR (1260AM), WLNA (1420AM) and WGHQ (920AM) and on-line as part of the ITT Knight Vision subscription package.

The B2 Networks will also have both games available through its subscription package.

APPROACHING A HUNDRED: Junior forward Owen Meyer is approaching the 100-point mark for his career. In 87 games, the left wing from Dundee, Ill., has 47 goals and 44 assists for 91 points. He is trying to become the 54th player in Army hockey history to top the milestone and first since Luke Flicek did it a season ago.

INSIDE ARMY-AIR FORCE: Army and Air Force will meet for the 48th and 49th times this weekend. Air Force leads the series 25-20-02, including a 13-5-2 mark in Colorado.

Army swept a pair of games last year against the Falcons, winning by identical 2-1 scores when Air Force was ranked 20th nationally.

The last time the series with in Colorado Springs, Air Force won the first game 4-1 and Army won the next night, 2-0.

PRACTICE ALTERATION: Because the Holy Cross game was moved to Sunday to accommodate the ESPNU national broadcast, head coach Brian Riley has had to alter his practice schedule to comply with NCAA rules that say athletes must have one day a week off. Army used Monday as its off day, will practice Tuesday and Wednesday at West Point, N.Y. and then conclude the week of practice in Colorado Springs, Colo.

SLEDDING ALONG: For the second consecutive season, the Army hockey team competed in a sled hockey game against the Long Island Rough Riders. Long Island won both 20-minute games, although Cody Omilusik did score for Army in a 7-1 loss last weekend.

SEEING WHITE: The Army Athletic Association continued its aggressive marketing approach with a “white out” for the television game against Holy Cross. The first 2,000 ticketed fans were given a commemorative white t-shirt.

SCOUT DAYS: Two additional Scout Days are also scheduled at Tate Rink -- Jan. 30 vs. Bentley and Feb. 6 vs. Canisius -- with special patches being offered. For more information, contact Jeff Helion at 845-938-0065.

HONORS FOR MEYER: After racking up four points in a weekend sweep of Mercyhurst (Jan. 9-10) Army junior forward Owen Meyer earned a pair of honors. Meyer scored the game-winning goal in back-to-back games to help the Black Knights sweep the Lakers and was lauded as the Atlantic Hockey Association Player of the Week and the Army Athletic Association Athlete of the Week.

Meyer was the Co-Player of the Week in the AHA, along with Dustin Cloutier of Bentley. He is the first Army skater to be honored by the league this season. He netted the game-winner in the second period of a 2-1 Army victory on Friday and then tallied the deciding goal in Saturday’s 4-3 victory. Both of his goals Saturday came in the third period as Army recorded its first weekend sweep of the season.

HONORS FOR CLARK: Army goalie Jay Clark won three straight starts (Jan. 3-10) and earned four honors for his play in net. The sophomore from Baudette, Minn., made 56 saves in a 3-2 win against #2 Miami and earned Atlantic Hockey Association Goalie of the Week honors, was the Army Athletic Association Athlete of the Week and was named the New England Hockey Journal Player of the Week. In a weekend sweep of Mercyhurst, Clark turned away 60 of 64 shots to repeat as the conference Goalie of the Week.

Clark was the first hockey player to collect those honors this season.

Clark established a new Ohio Hockey Classic record for saves in a game, surpassing the 43 set by Chris Clark of Minnesota State in 2004 against Miami. He also tied the tournament record for saves in joining Brandon Crawford-West of Miami (2004), Dustin Carlson of Ohio State (2007) and Kyle Richter of Harvard (2007). Clark is the first Army goalie to make at least 50 saves since Brad Roberts turned away 51 shots against Bentley on March 11, 2006.

Clark won his third straight game in goal and picked up his second consecutive honor from the league for his performance against Mercyhurst. He made 35 saves in a 2-1 victory on Friday and then turned away 25 shots in a 4-3 win on Saturday to complete the sweep. He made 60 saves during the weekend while allowing four goals.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TIME: Army forward Cody Omilusik was named to the Ohio Hockey Classic All-Tournament team. The sophomore from Traverse City, Mich., scored two goals against #2 Miami to stake the Black Knights to a 2-0 lead. One of the goals came shorthanded. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Clarkson’s Bryan Rufenach and Ohio State’s Corey Elkins, Shane Sims, Hunter Bishop and goalie Dustin Carlson. Elkins was named the MVP.

CLASS ACT:  Army senior hockey player Zach McKelvie is among the 20 players who are candidates for the 2008-09 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The award is presented annually to the NCAA Division I student-athlete in nine sports based on the four c’s of classroom, character, community and competition. CLASS is an acronym for celebrating loyalty and achievement for staying in school.

A native of New Brighton, Minn., McKelvie is the hockey team captain, is a member of the Atlantic Hockey Association All-Academic Team and serves as the Brigade Athletics Officer, a leadership position within the Corps of Cadets.

McKelvie is the second Army player to be nominated for the Lowe’s Award, which honors a player who combines excellence in athletics, academics and community service. Bryce Hollweg was among the finalist for the honor last season.

The 2008-09 hockey candidates represent 18 different schools and five conferences. Notre Dame and Ohio State each have two candidates. McKelvie, Sean Erickson of Connecticut, Mike Phillipich from Air Force and Dewey Thomson of Holy Cross represent the Atlantic Hockey Association.

From the list of 20 nominees, a national media committee will select 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award by early February 2009. Those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote that will include coaches, media and fans. The award winner will be announced and recognized at the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.

HOMECOMING: Army’s trek to the Ohio Hockey Classic was a homecoming for the three Ohio players on the roster. Eric Sefchik (Brooklyn), Kyle Maggard (Cleveland) and Marcel Alvarez (Cleveland) played in front of large groups of family and friends in the two-day tournament and used a day to visit with family.

HEY, I KNOW YOU: Freshman Scott Warner and sophomore Pat Copeland have been paired together the last five games at defense, but it’s not the first time they have played together. Warner, from Anchorage, Alaska, and Copeland, from Dexter, Ore., were members of the Trail SmokeEaters of the British Columbia Hockey League together.

BOBBLEHEADS: The Army Athletic Association honored former hockey coach Jack Riley with a bobblehead giveaway to the first 1,000 ticketed fans prior to a 2-1 win against Mercyhurst.

Jack Riley -- the father of head coach Brian Riley and former head coach Rob Riley -- won 542 games during his 36 years behind the Army bench. He was also the head coach of the 1960 U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team that won a gold medal after being Russia and Canada.

MIAMI FOLLOW UP: Army’s 3-2 win against #2 Miami in the consolation game of the Ohio Hockey Classic on Jan. 3, 2009, marked several milestones. It was the Black Knights’ first win against a nationally ranked opponent since sweeping #20 Air Force at Tate Rink Jan. 25 and 27, 2008.

The victory was Army’s first non-conference win since beating Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y., 3-2, on Oct. 30, 2004 and the Black Knights’ first victory against a Central Collegiate Hockey Association opponent since a sweep of Nebraska-Omaha Nov. 6-7, 1998.

HELLO, MR. BUSH: When former President George W. Bush visited West Point in December, he spoke to the freshmen, sophomore and junior classes as well as faculty and staff for 30 minutes. Following that speech, he joined the senior class members for what turned out to be a two-hour question-and-answer session. Among the many hands the 43rd President shook during his visit, was Army hockey captain Zach McKelvie, who had a front row seat for the Q and A because of his role as the Brigade Athletics Officer.

COMMUNITY HERO: Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dan Jollota, who serves as one of the team’s Officer Representatives and as the President of the Army Hockey Parents’ Association, was honored by the Philadelphia Flyers as a community hero. Between the second and third periods, a 90-second video montage was shown on the scoreboard while portions of Jollota’s biography were read. A huge ovation from the crowd, as well as the both the Flyers and Penguins tapping their sticks, followed after learning about the distinguished career of the pilot. A trip to the Comcast Sportsnet studio in the Wachovia Center was followed by a visit to the Flyers locker room after the win over the Penguins.

NATIONALLY RANKED: Army is now 1-1 against nationally ranked opponents following the 3-2 win against #2 Miami at the Ohio Hockey Classic in Columbus, Ohio. The win against Miami came six days after a 5-4 overtime loss to #20 Dartmouth. Air Force is the third nationally ranked opponent Army will compete against this season.

ABOUT THE BLACK KNIGHTS: Army enters the weekend on a five-game unbeaten streak following a pair of overtime ties against Holy Cross. The Black Knights are 3-0-2 in their last five games.

The Black Knights are averaging 2.9 goals per game while allowing 3.7. Three power goals against Holy Cross increased Army’s power play percentage to 16.4% (19 of 116) while opponents have concerted 17.3% of its chances (17 of 98).

Owen Meyer leads the team in scoring with 23 points off of a team-best 11 goals. Cody Omilusik has 11 goals and 11 assists while Eric Sefchik has a team-best 13 assist to go with seven goals. Mike Hull has three goals and nine assists while Bryant Skarda now has two goals and nine assists. Marcel Alvarez has 11 assists while Danny Colvin (four goals, six assists) and Zach McKelvie (one goal, nine assists) are also in double digits in points.

Jay Clark has received the starts in net each of the last five games and has a 3.09 goals against average and .910 save percentage for the season. Josh Kassel, who has beaten Air Force in three out of the last four games against the Falcons, has a 4.29 goals against average and .858 save percentage. Joe Spracklen has a 3.88 goals against average and .909 save percentage.

ABOUT THE FALCONS: Air Force has been the talk of the national hockey scene with its strong start and gaudy numbers.

The Falcons opened the season by sweeping Sacred Heart, Bemidji State, American International, Bentley, Holy Cross and Sacred Heart a second time before beating Colorado College 4-1. A loss to Denver the next night was the first blemish on the season. A split with RIT (2-0, 2-3), a tie against Connecticut (2-2), a loss to Quinnipiac (4-2) and a win against Connecticut (4-3) preceded the three-game losing streak with losses to Yale (3-2) and Canisius (5-4, 4-2).

Air Force leads the country in scoring, averaging early four goals per game and allowing just two per contest. It also has the top power play unit nationally, converting 25.8% of its chances while holding opponents to 14 goals in 113 chances (12.4%).

Jacques Lamoureux is among the nation’s leading scorers with 18 goals and 14 assists for 32 points. He leads the country in goals per game (0.82), power play goals (11) and game-winning goals (five).

Brent Olson is the conference’s top scoring defenseman with five goals and 22 assists. Josh Frider (12 goals, 12 assists) and Greg Flynn (four goals, 20 assists) also have at least 20 points.

Andrew Volkening has played all 22 games in goal. He has allowed 41 goals, boasts a conference best 1.88 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.

SEEING DOUBLE: Mercyhurst was one of the four teams Army will play four times in 2008-09. Army went 2-2 against the Lakers and will also play RIT, American International and Sacred Heart four times this season.

HISTORIC WIN: The Army hockey program recorded its 1,050th win with a 6-3 victory over Sacred Heart at Tate Rink on Oct. 31, 2008. Army began playing hockey in 1904.

AROUND THE AHA: For the first time this season, a team other than Air Force is atop the conference standings.

RIT, on the strength of a nine-game winning streak, is in first place with 27 points, two more than Air Force. The Tigers are 13-4-1 in conference games and will play a Thursday-Sunday series against Canisius this weekend.

Holy Cross is in third place with 17 points, one in front of Canisius and Mercyhurst. Army and Bentley are tied with 15 points while Sacred Heart (12), Connecticut (nine) and American International (eight) follow.

In addition to the Army-Air Force and RIT at Canisius series, Bentley will play at Sacred Heart and Connecticut will travel to Mercyhurst.

BANNERS: Prior to its season-opening game against Merrimack, Army unveiled its 2007-08 Atlantic Hockey Association banner, commemorating last year’s regular season championship. The banner now hangs in the South end of Tate Rink.

Head coach Brian Riley, Dean of the Academic Board at West Point Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan, Chief of Staff of the Army Athletic Association Col. Sam Johnson, two-year captain Zach McKelvie and Ken Rowe, a former player who exhausted his eligibility last year and is now assisting the team, were part of the brief ceremony.

CHANGES AT TATE: Tate Rink underwent some upgrades prior to the 2008-09 season. First, the dasher boards were replaced and new seamless glass was installed. In addition, the month-long project also included new flooring around the rink, a new ice surface, including new lines and new logos and new benches in both team areas. Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities Mike Rubbino oversaw the project.

FRESHMEN DEBUTS: Army has 13 freshmen on its roster and 11 have seen ice time through 22 games. Marcel Alvarez and Scott Warner have played in all 22 games while Mike Hull, Kyle Maggard and Bryant Skarda have made 21 appearances. Danny Colvin has played in 20 contests with Jake Hannon (13), Alex McRae (14), Mark Dube (11), Bill Day (11), and Jack Barnes (8) also earning ice time.
 
HOCKEY BROTHERS: Army seniors Matt Hickey and Zach McKelvie also have brothers playing Division I hockey. Chris Hickey is a freshman defenseman at Wisconsin while Chris McKelvie is a junior alternate captain at Bemidji State as a forward.

WEST POINT CONNECTIONS: Three hockey players are following in their father’s footsteps as West Point graduates. Senior Will Ryan’s father, Jack, is a 1970 graduate of the Academy and Will was born at West Point. Sophomore Joey Ammon’s father, Craig, is a 1984 USMA graduate while Bill Day’s father, Tom, is a member of the Class of 1978.

HOCKEY HOSPITALITY: The Army Athletic Association has introduced an exciting way to enjoy the action of Army Hockey with a hospitality offer for games at Tate Rink.

The brand new hospitality area is located in the Northwest corridor of Holleder Center and will offer fans a bevy of food and beverage options for selected home games.

Fans that purchase the hospitality package will be given a special credential for the area. The area will not be offered for the RIT contest on Feb. 21.

Army hockey fans can purchase the hospitality package for just $180 for 12 home games. Or, hospitality packages can be purchased for single games at $15, plus the price of a ticket.

LAST TIME OUT: January 18, 2009 vs. HOLY CROSS: WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Danny Colvin scored two power play goals to help Army rally and skate to a 4-4 overtime tie with Holy Cross, Sunday in an Atlantic Hockey Association matinee at Tate Rink.

More than 2,300 fans were on hand for a game that was televised nationally on ESPNU and the result was the same as Saturday when the teams played to a 3-3 draw.

Army held a 39-37 advantage in shots on goal, never led in the contest but managed to earn a point for the tie.

Owen Meyer scored a shorthanded goal and Joey Ammon also netted a goal as Army moved to 7-12-3 overall and 6-7-3 in conference competition. Bryant Skarda and Will Ryan each had two assists while Zach McKelvie, Marcel Alvarez, Kyle Maggard and Mike Hull were also credited with assists.

Jay Clark made 33 saves for the Black Knights, who are 3-0-2 in their last five games.

Meyer stretched his multiple-point game streak to five with a goal in the first period while Colvin established a new career high with two goals. Skarda picked up two assists for the second time in his career and Ryan totaled his first multiple point game of the season.

LAST TIME vs. AIR FORCE (Jan. 27, 2008): WEST POINT, N.Y.  – Ken Rowe scored the game-winning goal with under two minutes to play and goalie Josh Kassel made 24 saves as the Army hockey team swept #20 Air Force with a 2-1 victory in front of more than 2,640 fans at Tate Rink.

In front of live national television audience on ESPNU, Army secured its third straight 2-1 win – and second consecutive against Air Force.

Will Ryan also scored for the Black Knights, who had a season-high 41 shots on goal. Lyle Gal and Cody Omilusik were credited with assists.

Army swept Air Force for the fifth time in series history and the third time at home. The last Army sweep was in 2005 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The last Army sweep at Tate Rink was in 1996 with 3-1 and 7-0 victories.

E.J. Hradek and Barry Melrose called the game for ESPNU, marking Army’s third national television appearance of the season.

Similar to Friday’s game, Army fell behind 1-0 and roared back with two goals in the final period.

STAFF CHANGES: Head coach Brian Riley made a pair of changes to his coaching staff. Rob Haberbusch was promoted to associate head coach and Trevor Large was added to the staff as an assistant coach. Haberbusch was an assistant coach for five years before the promotion. Large, who played at Ferris State and coached at American International, replaced Brian Sherry.

NATIONAL TV: Army has made two national television appearances this season. Coming off of a 4-3 win against Mercyhurst on the CBS College Sports Network, Army tied Holy Cross 4-4 in overtime on ESPNU. Army is 3-0-1 on national television the last two years.

RULE CHANGES: College hockey has made several rule changes for the 2008-09 season. The most obvious will be the switch to four on-ice officials. Two referees will join the two linesmen after several years of study. Army played in the two-referee system last year at Merrimack as Hockey East experimented with the system. The increase is expected to put officials in the best position to positively enforce the committee’s rule and points of emphasis.

Other rule changes include:
• Faceoff locations that will take place at one of nine locations, including “after a stoppage of play to administer a penalty, the faceoff will be located in the defending zone of the offending team.”
• All players, including backup goalkeepers, must wear an approved helmet and facemask while in the bench area.
• If the net is dislodged by a defending player without a penalty being assessed, the defensive team is not allowed to change players.
• The offending team is not allowed to alter its personnel when icing is called.

IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS: Three hockey players have switched numbers this season. Andrew Maxwell is now wearing #3, after being #8 as a freshman while Eric Sefchik has switched from #15 to #13. Chris Spracklen, who was ineligible to compete a year ago after playing major juniors, will wear #16.

PLAYOFF FORMAT: The Atlantic Hockey Association has revamped its playoff format for this season. This year, the first round will be a single-elimination game played on Saturday, March 7. The No. 7 seed will host the No. 10 seed while the No. 8 squad hosts No. 9. The winners will then be reseeded for the quarterfinals, a best-of-three format that will take place the next weekend (March 12-15) with the top seed facing the lowest winning seed while the No. 2 seed will host the other first round winner. In addition, No. 3 will host No. 6 and No. 4 will host No. 5. All quarterfinal winners will be reseeded for the semifinals on Friday, March 20, at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. The finals will take place the next day at the Blue Cross Arena.

YOUNGER SPRACKS RETURN: A sophomore forward, Chris Spracklen was forced to sit out all of last season and the first eight games this year because he played major juniors. Chris competed for the Oswego Admirals of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League where he was the team MVP and leading scorer. Chris’ brother, Joe, also played major juniors and sat out his freshman campaign and 11 games a year ago.

DEAR DIARY: Senior Mark Tilch will chronicle the Army hockey season with a diary available at www.goARMYsports.com. Tilch takes over the diary responsibilities from Chase Podsiad and will provide an inside look at Army hockey and the life of a cadet-athlete at West Point. Tilch is a defenseman from Silesia, Md.

DEAR DIARY PART TWO: Senior Matt Hickey is writing a blog for the NCAA, similar to Mark Tilch’s (see above). A defenseman from Saint Paul, Minn., Hickey’s first post detailed his summer trip to Tanzania and his quest to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. Hickey’s blog can be found at: http://www.ncaa.com/blog/matt-hickey-blog.html.

THE CAPTAIN: Senior Zach McKelvie was chosen as the team captain. An alternate captain a year ago, McKelvie has played in at least 32 games in each of his first three seasons. Senior Will Ryan is the alternate captain.

NHL AT WEST POINT: Once again, an NHL squad spent part of its training camp at West Point. This year, the Philadelphia Flyers utilized the mammoth O’Meara, Dawkins, Malek Class of 1959 Strength Development Center, skated at Tate Rink and ate lunch with the Corps of Cadets.

It marked the fourth straight season an NHL team trained at West Point. In addition to the Flyers, the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, U.S. Junior National Team and Polish National Team have worked out at West Point.

BROTHERLY LOVE: Joe and Chris Spracklen are the lone pair of brothers on the Army roster. While Jack and Bill Day share the same last name, they are not related.

ED SNIDER HOCKEY FOUNDATION: The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation stopped by West Point this summer on the way to the Durham Hockey Institute in Oshawa, Ontario.

A group of 30 children and six chaperons including Jim Britt, the executive director of the ESYHF, stopped by in early August. Maj. John Bryan, Executive Officer, Commandant of Cadets, spoke to the group about West Point’s rich history and the admission requirements and answered a slew of questions. A quick trip around West Point led the group to Tate Rink and a tour of the hockey locker rooms and the team room where Associate Head Coach Rob Haberbusch showed the team’s highlight video. After a group photo, it was back on the bus. The group was headed to a camp run by Keith Primeau, a former Flyer. Primeau was with the Flyers three years ago when the team spent part of its training camp at West Point and is highly thought of by the coaching staff.

ESPN.COM: Hockey players Will Ryan, Bill Leahy and Matt Hickey were featured in an ESPN.com story about how they spent their summers. Ryan was a part of team that worked in medical management center in Landstuhl for two weeks while Hickey and Leahy were in Tanzania for a cultural immersion experience.