by Tim Rosenthal/Staff Writer
Head Coach: Brian Riley
2006-07 Record: 17-12-5 (15-8-5 Atlantic Hockey)
Key Returnees: Chase Podisad D SR., Chris Colvin D SR., Ian McDougall D SR., Bryce Hollweg F SR., Luke Flicek F SR., Robb Ross F SR., Jeff Fearing F SR., Josh Kassel G JR., Zach McKelvie D JR., Will Ryan F JR., Owen Meyer F SO.
Key Losses: Casey Bickley, Brady Dolim, Tim Manthey
In 2006-07, Army wasn't really supposed to do much. The team was picked ninth in the Atlantic Hockey poll in the preseason. What they got out of that was a trip to the Atlantic Hockey Finals.
"It was a great year," said Black Knights coach Brian Riley. "We weren't really sure coming in how we were going to be."
If last year was supposed to be rebuilding, this year will most likely be a reloading year for the Black Knights. The team has 21 upperclassmen this season, 12 of whom are seniors.
"(The seniors are) a great class," Riley said. "Contributions and success from last year raised the bar of expectations for this year. They have made progress each year."
The Knights did lose, however, defenseman Tim Manthey, the team's No. 2 scorer, who decided to transfer.
Another part that played into the success of the Black Knights was junior goaltender Josh Kassel.
"He (Kassel) did not get much time as a freshman," Riley said. "I thought it was going to take time, but he had a huge confidence factor that gave us a chance to win."
Kassel was in the top five in three major categories, goals against average (2.38 second in Atlantic Hockey), save percentage (.913 fourth) and winning percentage (.630 third) (CQ).
This year the Black Knights will have co-captains. Chase Podisad (who was a captain last season) will share the captaincy with forward Bryce Hollweg. Senior forward Luke Flicek and junior defenseman Zach McKelvie will be the two assistant captains.
"Everyone has great leadership potential," Riley said about his captains. "They have the respect of the coaches and the players."
This year's freshmen class has seven members. Riley pointed out that this class is different in terms of the offseason training.
"They (the freshmen) usually have six weeks of military camp before school begins," Riley said. "It is an adjustment in the military, but they do get an hour and a half each week on the ice. That time is more of a getting away time."
This year there will be one adjustment at West Point, the addition of three games, from 31 games (not including the tournament) in 2006-07 to 34 in 2007-08.
"Last year is history," said Riley. "This year our goal is to win the league."
Riley did have some things to say about his rival Air Force as well, a team Army lost to in the Atlantic Hockey final a season ago.
"Air Force adds a lot to being in the league a lot," Riley said. "They can play with anyone in the country and the games with them are different."
No matter who it is, Air Force or anyone else on the schedule, the Black Knights will be ready to play. Expect this large group of upperclassmen to lead this team possibly to a conference title.