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Army Hockey: Atlantic Hockey Tournament Preview

#10 seed Army takes on Mercyhurst in opening round

The Black Knights stumbled in their final four games of the season leading up to the Atlantic Hockey conference tournament. Army went 0-2-2, falling to Sacred Heart on the road followed by a tie on home ice two weeks ago. Army concluded their season at home with two games against Bentley last weekend. Despite a hard fought effort on Friday night, Bentley came away with a narrow 2-1 victory. On Saturday, the Black Knights celebrated senior night - honoring five graduating seniors: Trevor Fidler, Tipper Higgins, Dalton MacAfee, Ian Mansfield, and Taylor Maruya. Down 3-2 late in the third period, MacAfee scored his career high 6th goal of the season as Army skated to a 3-3 tie to close out the season.

Army’s 8-13-7 record slots them as the #10 seed heading into the Atlantic Hockey conference tournament. They will travel to Pennsylvania this weekend to take on the #3 seed, Mercyhurst, in a best-of-3 series for the first round. Hopefully Army can continue their winning ways against Mercyhurst in the postseason. The Black Knights went 3-0-1 against Mercyhurst this season, which should add some confidence going into the series.

Should Army prevail against Mercyhurst, they would advance to the Quarterfinals and face either #1 seed AIC or #2 seed Bentley who both secured first round byes in the tournament. The Black Knights are seeking their first Atlantic Hockey tournament championship since the Atlantic Hockey Association’s inception in 2003. Army has won the AHA regular season once, in the 2007-2008 season, but has yet to capture the tournament championship trophy. In 2017, the AHA tournament championship trophy was named in honor of the late hockey legend, Jack Riley. Riley coached at Army for over 30 years and is still the winningest coach in Army hockey history. He also skated for Team USA in the 1948 Olympics before going on to win the gold medal as Team USA’s head coach in the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley.

Army has a tough road ahead if they hope to win the Jack Riley Championship Trophy, and with any luck, they’ll have an opportunity to avenge themselves against Air Force, who edged Army in the quarterfinals last year two games to one.