Oct. 26, 2012
With 14 returners and 13 freshmen on the roster, veteran Army hockey head coach Brian Riley is looking forward to today's official start of practice.
How quick will the freshmen adapt to playing Division I college hockey? How will the team handle a challenging schedule? Who can contribute goals?
Those are questions Riley is looking to answer and likely keys for the Black Knights during the 2012-13 Army hockey season.
Riley, now in his ninth season behind the Army bench, has a roster that is nearly half freshmen and will utilize the seven days of preseason preparation the NCAA provides to determine lines and matchups.
"We are a very young team and there is no doubt we need the newcomers to step in right away and contribute," said Riley. "We play some very good teams and if you look at our schedule you realize there are no easy games. We have our work cut out for us. That being said, we have a great group of guys who are working very hard. We have some youth, yes, but we also have some great hockey players."
The Black Knights open their season on Oct. 12 in the 16th annual Icebreaker Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., against Nebraska-Omaha and then play either Notre Dame or Maine.
Army has seven seniors, a pair of juniors and five sophomores on its roster and 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.
Fans will have plenty of opportunities to see the Black Knights at Tate Rink, on the road and on national television.
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.
For the 10th consecutive year, the Army hockey team will appear on national television and during the 2012-13 season, as many as four times.
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.
In addition, Army will appear on the NBC Sports Network when it opens the season at the Ice Breaker.
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.