One young Atlantic Hockey team took on another on Saturday night at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield, Mass.
Thanks in large part to a freshman goalie making a successful collegiate debut, AIC had the edge in this one and knocked off Sacred Heart, 4-1.
Ty Reichenbach, the freshman goalie, made 20 saves.
“Ty was a real stabilizer for us tonight,” AIC coach Gary Wright told the Springfield Republican.
Reichenbach is from Billings, Mont., and had another year of eligibility with the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior League, he told the paper. He was mostly being recruited by colleges for the 2014-15 season. Then AIC called and was interested in him for this year.
Ben Meisner was a workhorse in net the last few years for the Yellow Jackets and playing time is up for grabs.
Reichenbach took a giant step toward earning more with the win over Sacred Heart.
Senior Ryan Kerpan and freshman Hunter Leisner are the other goaltenders on the team.
Kerpan was in the net for AIC’s opener, a 10-4 loss at Providence.
To be sure, it’s been only two games, but the Yellow Jackets are showing some early and balanced offensive punch.
Eight different players, including two freshmen and two sophomores, scored the AIC goals in the first two games.
Freshman forward David Norris and freshman defenseman Carson Grolla each had one and so did sophomore forward Chris Porter and sophomore defenseman Brandon Lubin. Lubin played in 32 games as a freshman and had 11 assists but did not have a goal.
Senior forward Blake Peake and junior forwards Nathan Sliwinski, Jason Popek and Brandon Fagenheim had the other goals.
AIC and Sacred Heart are both off to better starts than last season.
The Pioneers did not win their first game until late in February a year ago and finished with just two wins. They already have two wins overall and a win in the league.
AIC was winless in its first eight games at 0-5-3 last season.
The Yellow Jackets head to Michigan State for a pair of games this weekend and then get back to league play to close out November.
They have one-game weekends with games at Bentley on Nov. 8, at Holy Cross on Nov. 15 and home against UConn on Nov. 23 and then get busy during Thanksgiving week.
They play Army at home on Tuesday, Nov. 26 and Mercyhurst is in for games on Nov. 29 and 30.
Player of the Week
Ty Reichenbach, fr., G, AIC
Reichenbach stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 4-1 home win over Sacred Heart in his collegiate debut on Saturday night. The 6-2, 180-pound netminder is from Billings, Mont., and played in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
Game of the week
Sacred Heart at UConn, Saturday
The Pioneers, who have a win over Bentley and a loss to AIC, are providing the first Atlantic Hockey test of the season for two teams this weekend. They play at Holy Cross on Friday night and at UConn on Saturday night.