Army hockey put up a valiant fight, but was unable to complete “Operation #BeatAIC”.
A 3 game series saw an incredible, never-quit mentality put up by the Black Knights. The seniors put up a show with some solid stats, a great way to end their Army hockey career.
Game one of the series was, easy to say, a tough one for the Black Knights. Even with the well wishes from Volleyball who were in Rome, Army still fell, 4-0. Pretty uneventful for the Army team.
Starting this game (and all weekend) was the Evancho-Franco-Butte line, paired with Wilkinson-MacAfee and Penta in net.
Despite a power play roughly half way through the 1st period, AIC took a 2-0 lead. One Yellow Jacket goal came 7 minutes in and the other with 5 minutes left.
Things didn’t get better for the Black Knights.
After another goal that came 3 minutes into the 2nd, Penta came off the ice to be replaced by Sophomore Jared Dempsey.
But, as fate would have it, not a minute would go by when AIC would tack on another goal.
Just as things were looking bleak, there was a glimmer of hope. An Evancho shot rung off the pipe and Army got to shooting.
Army got one powerplay, which bore no fruit. Then another, when Trevor Fidler was about to score but got hooked. This would be the closest Army would get to scoring all night, because the AIC penalty kill was perfect all night.
The intensity would pick up, but no pucks would bounce Army’s way. After another powerplay and penalty kill, the final of that contest was 4-0, AIC.
But imagine counting out student-solider-athletes. That’s laughable.
With the same starters as the previous night, Army came out with a new, invigorated energy. They knew that they would not be swept.
3 minutes in, though, someone got a bit *too* intense and got a major penalty, which gave AIC a 5 minute advantage. But Penta, the brick wall and the penalty kill unit was able to bear through all 5 minutes.
Then, a highlight real stop from Penta on an AIC breakaway:
I’m sure he appreciated MacAfee sliding into him after.
Army would get another powerplay opportunity but couldn’t capitalize.
And then, things looked bad again. Halfway through the 2nd, AIC scored. Again.
But not so fast, Yellow Jackets. Army’s first successful powerplay of the weekend lead to this gritty goal by Fidler:
It looks like Soucie knocked it in at the end, but Fidler floated the puck in over the head of AIC’s goalie.
At the end of the 2nd, Jackets-1, Black Knights-1.
The 3rd would be the period of Army.
7 minutes in, Dalton MacAfee just… I’m honestly speechless. This was something else.
I mean, wow. What a shot. You also can’t ignore the amazing drop pass from Taylor Maruya to set that shot up.
At this point, AIC is throwing everything they have on net to try and earn the 2nd series sweep. Army’s combated it with blocked shots from more than just Penta.
Army would drain out 2 minutes with a goalless powerplay, and after, AIC would pull it’s goalie to try and even the game at 1.
A 6 on 4 would ensue after another Black Knight penalty, but the team remained strong. Even with 1 second left, and a perfect set up for a clutch goal, the boys were there to stop it:
The quickest save in the east.
Game three: Army’s second straight do-or-die game.
Let’s just say… it didn’t get out to a great start.
After 14 minutes of gridlock, AIC scored it’s first powerplay of the series, having gone 1-14 by that point.
The period would end with nothing going Army’s way.
A few penalty kills later, and Army found themselves down 2-0 after the refs decided that there was no goalie interference committed against Matt Penta.
The third period was one of disaster, slight hope, but then more disaster.
5 minutes in and AIC would score again, and Army would have a powerplay that was killed off.
But with 5 minutes left, like a superhero, DALTON MACAFEEEEEEEEEE!
Another insane shot by the captain from the point. Wow.
There was hope for a few minutes, but as the final buzzer sounded, AIC would beat Army 4-1 and move onto the AHA semifinals.
A huge thank you to all the Army seniors for putting in 4 years of hard work, on and off the ice. You all got every other player to believe that the team could beat anyone.
Slightly off note, but as of now, Dalton MacAfee has finished 4th in the first round of fan voting for the Hobey Baker! Congrats, Dalton!
But with that being said, the Army hockey season is now over. The Black Knights finished with a 13-20-7 record and beat RMC to continue their win streak vs the Canadian team.
*After credits and bonus scene in a Marvel movie*
Army hockey will return in October of 2019.