Army Returns To League Play Thursday, Saturday

Josh Richards

Josh Richards

Nov. 27, 2012

Army Hockey Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

The Army hockey team will return to league play with a pair of Atlantic Hockey Association contests over three days.

Army, 3-6-1 overall and 3-2-1 in league contests, will travel to Bentley Thursday for 7:05 p.m. contest at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena and then host American International, Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Tate Rink.

Army has been idle since dropping a 3-0 non-conference game to Brown Nov. 17.

Bentley is in third-place in the Atlantic Hockey Association with a 6-5-0 overall and 5-3-0 conference mark, three points in front of Army.

AIC, which is 3-6-3 overall and 0-4-3 in conference games, will only compete once this weekend, against Army.

TURKEY DAY TRAVEL
For the first time in the nine-year tenure of Army hockey coach Brian Riley, the Black Knights did not play over Thanksgiving.

With a roster that features 13 freshmen, Riley opted for the players to return home for the first time since summer training began for most of the players.

The team enjoyed three days off before returning to practice on Sunday.

CLASSY DEFENSEMAN
Not only was senior defenseman Cheyne Rocha a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship, he is also on the ballot for the Senior CLASS Award.

He is one of 20 student-athletes that have been named nominees for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award, an accolade that recognizes achievements on and off the ice.

Rocha, from Rye, N.H., is one of 20 candidates on the initial ballot. The list will be cut in half to 10 finalists midway through the regular season. The winner will be chosen through a nationwide vote by media, coaches and fans.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.  The winner of the award best exemplifies excellence in communication, classroom, character and competition.

A team captain, Rocha boasts a cumulative grade-point average of greater than 4.0 and is a three-time Atlantic Hockey Association Academic All-Star. An Engineering Management major, he has been on the Dean's List in each of his six semesters.

In addition to his work in the classroom, Rocha was instrumental in beginning "House of Blues," an awareness campaign for prostate cancer. The event originated at West Point and is now the preferred charity of Atlantic Hockey. He is also active with the Special Olympics and Neighborhood Knights, a team group that provides community service. Rocha volunteers with the Army Junior Black Knights hockey program and holds a leadership position in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

On the ice, Rocha is a four-year contributor. He overcame a leg injury in his junior season and has played in all eight of the team's game this year. He has one assist.

TK NIGHT
The Army Athletic Association will honor former hockey player, Officer Representative and athletic department supporter Major Tom Kennedy during the Dec. 1 hockey game vs. American International. Face-off at Tate Rink is set for 7:05 p.m.

Kennedy, a 2000 U.S. Military Academy graduate, was killed in action in Afghanistan in August of this year.

A letterman on the hockey team, Kennedy returned to West Point and served as a Tactical Officer where he impacted the lives of thousands of cadets. In addition to his work with all of the cadets, Kennedy was an Officer Representative with the hockey program and was elected president of the Army Hockey Parents Association. He was deployed out of Fort Carson, Colo., following his term at West Point.

The Army hockey team is wearing "TK" stickers on its helmets and there are two spots on the ice with his initials and an American flag.

Prior to the game, members of Kennedy's family will be honored on the ice and then participate in a ceremonial puck drop. All fans at the game will receive the same sticker the players wear.

WINNING WITH YOUTH
Army is the third youngest team in Division I according to research by College Hockey Inc.

Army has 13 freshmen on its roster, just one less than Penn State and Providence which have 14.

Miami and Michigan State each have 12 freshmen on their rosters.

100 FOR COACH RILEY
Army head coach Brian Riley posted his 100th career victory in a 7-2 win at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., on Oct. 27.

Riley, now in his ninth season as head coach, is the third member of his family to eclipse the century mark for career victories.

Brian's father, Jack, won 542 games in his 36 seasons as head coach while brother Rob posted 257 victories during his 18 seasons.

SKATE WITH US
The popular "Skate With The Black Knights," returns for the third consecutive season. Postgame skates are scheduled for Jan. 19, Feb. 8 and Feb. 23.

Fans must bring their own skates and store them under their seats during the game.

Selected Army players will join fans for a 20-minute skating session following the contest with plenty of photograph and autograph opportunities.

ABOUT THE BLACK KNIGHTS
Army has been idle since Nov. 17 and a 3-0 loss to Brown.

The Black Knights are averaging 2.4 goals per game while allowing 3.6.  They have scored nine power play goals in 45 opportunities while allowing opponents nine goals in 39 chances.

Andy Starczewski leads the team with nine assists and 13 points. He and Thane Heller have a team-best four goals. Zak Zaremba has three goals and three assists, while Joe Kozlak has four assists and two goals. Mac Lalor, Josh Richards and Willie Faust all have four points.

Rob Tadazak has played in seven games in goal with a 1-3-1 mark, 3.46 goals against average and .896 save percentage. Ryan Leets is 2-3-0 in six games with a 3.74 goals against average and .899 save percentage.

ABOUT THE FALCONS
Bentley, which plays at Dartmouth on Saturday, has won three of its last four games, with victories against AIC, Connecticut and Mercyhurst.

The Falcons are averaging 3.27 goals per game while allowing 4.38. They have scored 14 power play goals in 41 chances while allowing 14 in 34 opportunities.

Brett Gensler leads the team with 21 points and 13 assists and shares the team goal-scoring lead with of eight with Andrew Gladiuk. Steve Weinstein has five goals and nine assists, while Matt Blomquist has 11 assists and two goals.

Branden Komm has played the bulk of minutes in goal with a 5-5-0 mark that includes a .906 save percentage and 3.20 goals against average.

ABOUT THE YELLOW JACKETS
While AIC is searching for its first conference win, the Yellow Jackets have beaten Penn State (3-2 in overtime), Alabama-Huntsville (4-3) and Quinnipiac (2-1).

Adam Pleskach leads the team with seven assists and 11 points while Jon Puskar has a team-best five goals and three assists. Jeff Ceccacci has six assists, while Blake Peake has two goals and four assists.

Ben Meisner has played in 10 games in goal with a 2-5-3 record, .917 save percentage and 3.45 goals against average. Chandler Long has played in three games with a 3.25 goals against average and .879 save percentage.

AIC is averaging 1.9 goals per game while allowing 3.6. The Yellow Jackets have scored seven power play goals in 35 chances while allowing opponents 10 goals in 50 opportunities.

AROUND THE AHA
Niagara has won six straight games and is atop the standings with a 7-0-0 mark and 14 points. Holy Cross is 6-2-1 in league games with Bentley (5-3-0) third and Mercyhurst fourth (4-2-0), with Army just behind at 3-2-1. Robert Morris (3-3-0), Canisius (2-2-2) and Connecticut (3-4-0) all have six points followed by Air Force (2-3-1), RIT (1-4-2), AIC (0-4-3) and Sacred Heart (0-7-2).

ON-ICE RECOGNITION
Seniors Ryan Leets and Cheyne Rocha were honored on the ice prior to the Penn State game on Oct. 26 for their excellence in the classroom last season.

Both Leets and Rocha posted a 4.0 grade-point average and were tabbed as Student Athletes of the Year by the Atlantic Hockey Association.

League commissioner Bob DeGregorio, head Officer Representative Col. Ed Naessens, Army hockey head coach Brian Riley and Executive Athletic Director Bob Beretta were on hand to present the awards.

Leets, from Kentwood, Mich., earned a 4.04 grade-point average as a Civil Engineering major. Rocha, an Engineering Management major from Rye, N.H., registered a 4.17 GPA.

Leets and Rocha were among the 18 Army hockey players named to the Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team last season.

ICE BREAKER OPEN
Army began its season at the Ice Breaker Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

The Black Knights fell to Nebraska-Omaha 5-1 and #20 Maine overcame a pair of deficits in a 4-3 win in the consolation game.

Notre Dame beat Nebraska-Omaha, 3-2, to win the title.

NATIONAL TV
Army's season-opening game with Nebraska-Omaha was shown live to a national audience on NBC Sports Network, marking the first of three national television appearances for the Black Knights. Dave Strader provided play-by-play with Pierre McGuire handling color commentary from inside the benches.

CBS Sports Network announced that the Black Knights' games against Air Force and Robert Morris will be carried live as part of the Atlantic Hockey Association package.

Army's game against Robert Morris at Tate Rink on Jan. 4, 2013, was shifted to 7:30 p.m. to accommodate the CBS Sports Network broadcast, while the Jan. 12 contest at Air Force was moved to 6 p.m. Eastern as Army continues its long tradition of playing on national television. Last season, CBS Sports Network carried the Air Force at Army game from Tate Rink.

This marks the 10th consecutive season Army has had a game on national television.

MONTHLY HONORS

Army senior Andy Starczewski and freshman Joe Kozlak picked up a pair of awards as the Atlantic Hockey Association announced its monthly award winners.

Starczewski was named the Player of the Month and Kozlak the Rookie of the Month as October competitions concluded. Carsen Chubak of Niagara was the Goaltender of the Month.

Starczewski totaled four goals and six assists in his first six games of the season. He scored a hat trick against Sacred Heart and handed out three assists at Holy Cross to help Army to a 2-3-1 overall record and 2-0-1 conference mark.

Kozlak collected six points in the first six games of the season and earned his first league citation as the Rookie of the Month. He has two goals and four assists on the year, including the game-winning goal in the road victory at Holy Cross.

LEADER ATHLETES

For the second consecutive year, the Army men's hockey team earned the Leader-Athlete Award from West Point for having the highest cadet performance score among the male NCAA-sponsored sports.

Cadet performance scores include academic, military and physical development. The Army Athletic Association annually distributes an award to the teams who achieve the highest score. The cross country team paced the females.

Senior goalie and alternate captain Ryan Leets led the hockey squad and was named a Leader-Athlete.

HOUSE OF BLUES
The Army hockey team will continue to raise prostate cancer awareness with a "House of Blues" celebration on Jan. 5 against Robert Morris. This will mark the second season of the campaign.

Last year, T-shirts and bracelets were distributed to fans, Army donned special blue sweaters and Army Athletic Association employee and prostate cancer survivor Chris Perry dropped the first puck. The American Cancer Society was on hand for the event as well.

"I'm proud of the players for wanting to get involved and wanting to help the community," said Army hockey head coach Brian Riley. "This is a way they could give back. The hockey community has done a great job of raising awareness for this terrible disease and it says a lot about the caliber of players we have that they volunteer their time to support this cause."

NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS
For four-straight seasons Army has a non-conference win among its list of accolades.

Army posted a 3-2 victory over Rensselaer in the consolation game of the Toyota UConn Classic at the Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs, Conn., on Dec. 30, 2011.

Brian Schultz scored the game-winning goal with 93 seconds left to lift the Black Knights past ECAC rival RPI.

Two years ago, Army beat Hockey East's Massachusetts 5-2 in Amherst, Mass., on Nov. 5 and dispatched Rensselaer, 2-1, on Nov. 31, 2009, in Troy, N.Y.

Those wins came on the heels of a 3-2 victory over No. 2 Miami of the CCHA at the Ohio State Tournament on Jan. 3, 2009.

SLEDDING ALONG
The Army hockey team will continue its tradition of playing the Long Island RoughRiders sled hockey team. This year's exhibition is slated for Feb. 16 against Bentley.

After the game, Army will trade the skates for sleds and compete in a 20-minute exhibition game against the team from Long Island.

Sled hockey is played mainly by people with various lower extremity disabilities in which players are seated on sleds, which are affixed to two hockey skate blades under the seat. The sleds are about three inches off the ice and around three feet long depending on the size of the player. The sled glides on the blades and a metal bar located at the front of the sled.

Players use their arms to propel themselves along the ice and dig picks, on the ends of two short hockey sticks, into the ice to pull themselves forward. Players have a right and a left stick (the blades are curved differently) that are miniature copies of a typical hockey stick, except for the metal picks (like figure skate toe picks) on the ends. Players shoot, pass, and propel themselves with the sticks.

This marks the sixth year Army has played Long Island.

SCHOLARS
Ryan Leets and Cheyne Rocha were among the 18 hockey players honored as the Atlantic Hockey Association distributed its academic awards over the summer.

Leets, a goalie and Rocha, a defenseman, were tabbed as Student-Athletes of the Year by posting at least a 4.0 grade-point average. Leets became the first player in league history to be named a Student-Athlete of the Year three times.

Leets and Rocha were among the 14 student-athletes with a GPA of 4.0 or higher and the two were included in the 179 league players who posted at least a 3.0 in both semesters of competition and a GPA of 3.0 during the 2011-12 season.

Joining Leets and Rocha on the All-Academic Team were Marcel Alvarez, Jack Barnes, Jon Bobb, John Clark, Danny Colvin, Mark Dube, Mike Hull, Cody Ikkala, Bret Larson, Kyle Maggard, Alex McRae, Josh Richards, Pat Ryan, Brian Schultz, Bryant Skarda and Matt Walsh.

Leets, from Kentwood, Mich., showed a 4.04 GPA as Civil Engineering major during his junior season. Rocha, an Engineering Management major from Rye, N.H., registered a 4.17 GPA during his junior season.

CLASS OF 2016
Getting accepted to West Point is a challenge in itself. A look at the Class of 2016 shows that 15,170 candidates applied, 4,284 were nominated, 2,554 qualified and 1,193 were admitted.

Of those admitted, 72% were in the top-five of their high school class, eight percent were valedictorians, 90% played varsity sports, 57% served as team captain and 18% were either class or student body presidents.

@COACH_BRILEY
Army head coach Brian Riley is now on Twitter. You can follow his tweets @Coach_BRiley.

NUMBER CHANGES
Two Army players have changed numbers. Sophomore defenseman Maurice Alvarez is now wearing 24 after donning 16 as a freshman. Sophomore forward Josh Richards has opted for 19 after wearing 3 his first season.

TICKETS AT TATE
Army will play 17 games at Tate Rink with dates against Penn State, Royal Military College and the Russian Junior All-Stars as well as Atlantic Hockey Association opponents Sacred Heart, American International, Niagara, Robert Morris, RIT and Connecticut.

Season tickets and single-game tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at goARMYsports.com, by phone at 1-877-TIX-ARMY on in person at the Army Ticket Office.

LEAGUE HONORS
Senior Andy Starczewski and freshman Willie Faust collected a pair of Atlantic Hockey Association honors for their performances Oct. 19-20. Army beat Sacred Heart 5-2 and tied the Pioneers in overtime the next night, 4-4.

Starczewski registered his second career hat trick and totaled five points in a weekend series with Sacred Heart and earned AHA Travel Team USA Player of the Week accolades.

Faust netted a goal and two assists and picked up AHA Travel Team USA Rookie of the Week honors.

THE CAPTAINS
Senior defenseman Cheyne Rocha will serve as the Black Knights' captain during the 2012-13 season.

Seniors Ryan Leets and Andy Starczewski and junior Brian Schultz will all handle alternate captain duties.

NEIGHBORHOOD KNIGHTS
Seeking to give back to the community, the Army hockey team has formed "Neighborhood Knights," to volunteer their time.

The group has been actively involved in the local community and plans to utilize its time in a number of projects that benefit the environment and recreation areas.

"I am very proud of our players," said Army hockey head coach Brian Riley. "The players decided that they wanted to be more involved and have done all of this work on their own. Being a West Point cadet or a Division I hockey player is hard enough on its own, yet these guys are finding time to make a difference in their community and that says a lot about their character."

The Neighborhood Knights began their service at Brooks Park in Fort Montgomery, N.Y., where several team members raked leaves and helped clean up the area. Picking up trash in the park and neighboring stream and trails and preparing the park for spring and summer use was the focus of the day.

In addition to work at Brooks Park, the team is also actively involved in the Special Olympics.

The Neighborhood Knights were also involved in 9/11 tributes and are planning to Adopt-A-Highway in the near future, cleaning a 1.3 mile strip in Fort Montgomery, N.Y., as part of a two-year agreement.

Currently, members are working with local youth hockey teams with several projects in the works.

ABBOTSFORD HEAT
Former Army hockey standout Zach McKelvie is now with the Calgary Flames affiliate Abbotsford Heat. After two seasons with the Boston Bruins, McKelvie signed with Abbotsford in the offseason and will wear No. 4.

A 2009 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, McKelvie served in the Army for two years before joining the Bruins organization. He was stationed in Fort Benning, Ga., as an infantry officer and will serve eight years of reserve time.

McKelvie, listed as a 6-foot-2, 200-pound defenseman, played in 39 games last season with the Providence Bruins with a goal and an assist and 46 penalty minutes.

FROZEN IN PITTSBURGH
The Frozen Four will be held in Pittsburgh, Pa., this season at the CONSOL Energy Center, April 11 and 13.

FIRST FAMILY OF HOCKEY
It's tough to argue with those who call the Riley's the "first family of hockey." From Jack Riley winning an Olympic gold medal to his five children all playing Division I hockey, the evidence is on the ice.

Jack Riley coached at Army from 1951-1986, winning 542 games in the process. He was also selected to coach the 1960 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team and led the squad to its first gold medal in the sport.

Jack's five children all served as captains at their respective schools. Rob and Mark both played at Boston College while Jay was a star at Harvard. Brian graduated from Brown University while Mary Beth, the lone female, was a captain at St. Lawrence University.

Rob took over the Army head coaching position from his father in 1986 and then turned the program over to Brian in 2004.

WATCH IT ONLINE
America One will again provide video and audio where available of every Atlantic Hockey Association game.

Previously the B2 Network, America One is the official multi-media provider of the AHA and carries all games home and away. Subscriptions can be purchased monthly or annually. To access games, visit b2tv.com.

TWEETING
The official Army Athletic Association twitter page can be found at @ArmyAthletics. Score updates, links to game notes and feature stories and breaking news are all tweeted.

AHA
Army was picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic Hockey Association, according to a vote of the league's head coaches. The poll was announced at the Blue Cross Arena at Atlantic Hockey Association Media Day.

Army received 30 points and was picked ahead of American International and Sacred Heart. Each of the league's 12 head coaches voted but were not allowed to choose their own team.

Air Force collected eight first-place votes and was the top choice, followed by Niagara, which had three first-place votes. Mercyhurst was third while Bentley and RIT shared the fourth pick.

Holy Cross was chosen sixth with Connecticut, Robert Morris, Canisius, Army, AIC and Sacred Heart rounding out the poll. Robert Morris received the other first-place vote.

The 2013 Atlantic Hockey Tournament will feature the same format as last year. The top four teams receive a bye into the quarterfinals with seeds 5-8 hosting seeds 9-12 in a best two-out-of-three first round series starting Friday, March 8.  The first round winners will then be re-seeded and travel to the top four seeds for a best two-out-of-three quarterfinal series, which will begin Friday, March 15.

The four winners will then travel to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. with the highest remaining seed facing the lowest remaining seed in the first semifinal, with the other two remaining seeds facing off in the second semifinal on Friday, March 22.

The two semifinal winners will then face-off in the Championship game on Saturday, March 23 with the NCAA Tournament automatic berth on the line.

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