As January comes to an end, service academy hockey is in full swing with both Air Force and Army jockeying for position in the top half of the Atlantic Hockey standings.
After suffering back-to-back losses to Atlantic Hockey foe and service academy rival, Army, Air Force bounced back with a pair of wins over Niagara at home. The Falcons dispatched the Purple Eagles 4-3 on the 17th, followed by a 2-1 victory on the 18th.
Unfortunately, Air Force was unable to sustain that momentum this past weekend on the road against Holy Cross. Despite close scores, the Falcons fell to the Crusaders 3-1 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday.
Although this past weekend did not provide the desired outcome for Air Force, they are sitting quite comfortably in the Atlantic Hockey standings, tied with Robert Morris with 31 points and just three spots (4 points) behind Army. The Falcons are back at home this coming weekend, welcoming a Sacred Heart team that is tied for first in the Atlantic Hockey conference with 40 points.
The Black Knights of Army have been struggling in 2020, which might come as a surprise given that they ended 2019 ranked #20 in the nation. However, after an excellent start to the season, the Black Knights have won just one game in regulation out of seven to start 2020.
After taking two home wins (one regulation, one shootout win) over Air Force, Army traveled to Kingston, Ontario for their annual match-up against Canada’s Royal Military College. In a somewhat shocking turn of events, the RMC Paladins emerged with a 3-2 overtime win, snapping the Black Knights’ 12-game win streak in the series. The Army/RMC rivalry is considered the longest-standing international rivalry, initiated in 1923.
Following the loss to RMC, Army resumed Atlantic Hockey competition on the road this past weekend against Niagara. Unlike Air Force, the Black Knights were unable to prevail against the Purple Eagles, losing 4-1 on Friday and then 3-2 in overtime on Saturday.
In spite of the lack of wins thus far in 2020, Army has been receiving some positive recognition. The team continues to receive votes in national polls, and two players have distinguished themselves as candidates for individual honors. In addition to being named Atlantic Hockey’s Player of the Week a couple weeks ago, Michael Wilson has been named as a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in college hockey each year.
Fellow senior, Alex Wilkinson, has also earned a bit of the spotlight. Wilkinson was recently named as a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award which recognizes a top NCAA D1 student-athlete for excellence in these four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.
Army returns home this weekend to take on Canisius in further Atlantic Hockey action. Right now the Black Knights sit behind AIC and Sacred Heart in Atlantic Hockey standings with 35 points.