Army Opens Season At Ice Breaker

Cheyne Rocha

Cheyne Rocha

Oct. 9, 2012

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WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army hockey team will open its 2012-13 season, this weekend at the Ice Breaker Tournament.

The state-of-the-art Sprint Center will host the traditional kickoff to the college hockey season and NBC Sports Network will air three of the games live to a national audience.

Maine and Notre Dame will play in the first game on Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern with Army and Nebraska- Omaha to follow at 10 p.m. Eastern time. Dave Strader and Pierre McGuire will call both games as well as the championship game on Saturday.

The third-place game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Eastern with the championship set for 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

Army officially opened its season Oct. 6 with a practice and annual Black-Gold scrimmage. The Black Knights had three practices at West Point before departing for Kansas City.

Army is making its second appearance in the Ice Breaker Tournament.

The Black Knights last played in 2009-10 when they dropped a 6-4 game to Nebraska-Omaha and suffered a 5-2 setback to St. Lawrence. Both games were played in Omaha, Neb.

This year marks the 16th season of the Ice Breaker and two of the last four champions have gone on to win the NCAA championship.

Past champions include Michigan State, Boston College (three times), Denver, New Hampshire (twice), St. Cloud, Boston University (three times), Colorado College, Vermont, Minnesota and Nebraska-Omaha.

This is the third time the tournament has not been held on a college campus joining Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center (2007) and St. Louis' Scottrade Center (2010).

Tournament tickets are available at, Sprint Center Box Office, Ticketmaster locations and charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Group discount tickets will be available for charge by phone at 816-949-7177 or by email:

This weekend marks the first of at least three national television appearances for Army.

While Friday's opening round game and the championship contest on Saturday will be shown live on NBC Sports Network, two additional Army games are slated for a national audience.

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, will be shifted to 7:30 p.m. to accommodate the CBS Sports Network broadcast, while the Jan. 12 contest at Air Force will be 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.

Army and Nebraska-Omaha are meeting for the first time since the 2009 Ice Breaker when the Mavericks posted a 6-4 victory at their home ice.

Army leads the all-time series with Nebraska-Omaha, 4-2, and is seeking win since a 2-1 triumph Nov. 7, 1998.

Army and Maine have played just once, a 15-5 Maine victory in 1992 at the Dexter Classic in Orono, Maine.

Army and Notre Dame have met 16 times, with Notre Dame holding a 9-7-0 advantage in the all-time series. Army's last win against the Irish was a 4-2 victory on Dec. 30, 1990 in South Bend, Ind.

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 score includes academic, military and physical development and the Army Athletic Association annual 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.

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."

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.

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 competed 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.

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.

The popular "Skate With The Black Knights," will return for the third consecutive season. Postgame skates are scheduled for Oct. 26, Nov. 16, 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.

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.

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

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.

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, by phone at 1-877-TIX-ARMY on in person at the Army Ticket Office.

Army has seven seniors, a pair of juniors and five sophomores on its roster and head coach Brian Riley will count on their veteran status.

Senior Cheyne Rocha will serve as team captain and is expected to anchor the defense after missing parts of his junior season due to injury.

Classmates Ryan Leets and Andy Starczewski will serve as alternate captains, along with junior Brian Schultz.

Leets has played 42 games in goal with a career 3.30 goals against average and .899 save percentage. Matt Walsh will help back-up Leets in goal.

Starczewski is the top returning scorer after netting 13 goals and 11 assists in his junior campaign. In 99 career games, he has 28 goals and 25 assists with 12 power play tallies.

Seniors Cody Ikkala and John Clark will help anchor the defense as well. Clark has appeared in 96 games during his career with 14 assists while Ikkala has suited up for 69 contests with one goal and five assists.

Schultz and Mike Santee comprise the junior class. Schultz has two goals and four assists in 61 career games, while Santee has nine goals and 10 assists in 53 games.  Santee missed the 2011-12 season after an injury.

The five-member sophomore class picked up plenty of experience last year. Rob Tadazak played in eight games in goal with a .908 save percentage while Zak Zaremba scored five goals and handed out six assists in his first year. Josh Richards scored one goal and had an assist in 20 games. Maurice Alvarez and Mac Lalor logged plenty of minutes as defensemen. Alvarez netted five goals and nine assists in 33 games and Lalor totaled four goals and six assists in 31 contests.

The freshmen class features defensemen James McNulty, Christian Pomarico, Jonathan Gehrt and Luke Jenkins and forwards Andrew O'Leary, Kyle Vogel, Joe Kozlak, R.J. Burns, Michael St. Denis, Thane Heller, Shane Hearn, Willie Faust and Josh Roberts.

Nebraska-Omaha, coached by Dean Blais, opened its season with a scrimmage against Lethbridge Oct. 8.

The Mavericks, picked eighth in the preseason Western Collegiate Hockey Association poll, went 14-18-16 last year and return 20 letterwinners from that squad.

Matt White is the leading returning scorer with 17 goals and 23 assists in 38 games last season. Ryan Walters netted 25 points with 10 goals and 15 assist while Bryce Aneloski had six goals and 14 assists.

Nebraska-Omaha had eight NHL draft picks on its 2012-13 roster.

Notre Dame, coached by Jeff Jackson, went 19-18-3 last season with an eighth-place finish in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Among the 18 returning letterwinners are veteran defenseman Sam Calabrese and goalie Mike Johnson. Calabrese handed out 13 assists last year while Johnson went 9-10-3 with a 2.69 goals against average.

The Irish played an exhibition against the USA Under-18 Team on Oct. 7.

Maine has 17 letterwinners back from last season's 23-14-3 squad which made the NCAA Tournament.

The Black Bears, picked fifth in the Hockey East Preseason Coaches Poll, feature Joey Diamond, a forward who totaled 25 goals and 22 assists last season. He was fourth in the nation in goals per game and tied for the national lead with 11 power play goals. Goalie Dan Sullivan, who finished 22-11-3 last year with a 2.59 goals against average, is also among the returnees.

Maine, coached by Tim Whitehead, opened the regular season against Quinnipiac and also played New Brunswick in an exhibition.

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.

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.

Former Army hockey standout Zach McKelvie is competing with the Boston Bruins' AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins.

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 a goal and an assist and 46 penalty minutes.

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

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.

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

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.

Army has been 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.

Army has 13 freshmen on its 2012-13 roster and will play a challenging schedule that includes 17 home games.

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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