November 15, 2013

It's early, but AIC off to encouraging start in Atlantic Hockey

By Allen Lessels

Yellow Jackets forward Jon Puskar has six points through five games. (Photo: Richard Orr Sports)

Bentley’s Matt Blomquist scored with 13 seconds left in the second period to stop a string of 
four straight AIC goals and even things up at 5-5 going into the third period. 
Oops. Not exactly. 

The Yellow Jackets were not ready for a between-periods break just yet. 

Freshman David Norris delivered a just-about perfect pass to senior Jon Puskar and his nice shot found the back of the Bentley net with five seconds left in the period. 

AIC was up again at 6-5 and led the rest of the way and finally put away a wild 8-7 win on 
Friday night to keep its Atlantic Hockey record unblemished after two games. 

“Being 2-0 is nothing too crazy and we’re trying to stay focused on one weekend at a time,” said AIC senior captain Blake Peake. “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”
The Yellow Jackets beat Sacred Heart, 4-1, in their first league game. 

They continue with their tests against fellow New England teams in the league at Holy Cross on Friday and then with a home game against UConn on Nov. 23. 

Coach Gary Wright wasn’t thrilled with the run-and-gun nature of the win over Bentley. But 
he’ll certainly take it. 

“The outcome, coupled with the fact we were down 4-1 at one point, made the game a little more tolerable,” Wright said. 

The Yellow Jackets got a huge night from their second line that had Puskar on the left wing, 
Norris on the right and junior Alex MacMillan between them. 

Pukar had two goals and three assists, MacMillan a goal and four assists and Norris had four 

“That’s been building,” Peake said. “You can see it in practice. All three of them are very good players and they’re really starting to mesh.”

Freshman Ty Reichenbach gave up the seven goals against Bentley, but also had 35 saves and got the win. He is one of two freshmen goalies who have played and has both of the AIC wins thus far. 

Hunter Leisner, the other freshman, and senior Ryan Kerpan have each played a game. 
Nothing has been settled in net and each of the goalies will get another shot in the coming weeks, Wright said. 

AIC’s challenge on Friday is to see what it can do with Holy Cross. The Yellow Jackets have not beaten the Crusaders since the 2009-10 season. They tied one of the games between the teams last season and lost the other two.

Player of the Week

Jon Puskar, sr. F, AIC

Anyone on Puskar’s line could have collected this week’s honors. He had two goals and three 
assists, junior Alexander MacMillan had a goal and four assists and freshman David Norris had four assists in AIC’s 8-7 shootout win over Bentley. 

Game of the week

Bentley at UConn, Friday

Bentley will try to bounce back from its 8-7 shootout loss at home to AIC last Friday. UConn 
looks to keep its early season success in the league going. The Huskies beat Holy Cross, 4-3, on Tuesday night for their second Atlantic Hockey win in as many chances. 

Power Rankings

1. Air Force (5-3-0, 3-1-0) . . . The Falcons will have had two weeks to stew about an 8-2 loss at Mercyhurst by the time they play Robert Morris at home on Saturday. Junior forward Scott Holm has three of Air Force’s five power play goals. 

2. UConn (3-2-1, 2-0-0) . . . The Huskies knocked off Holy Cross, 4-3, on Tuesday night at 
home. They look to stay perfect in league play against Bentley on Friday and are at Boston 
University on Sunday. Senior forward Billy Latta leads the team with four goals. 

3. Mercyhurst (3-6-1, 2-1-0) . . . The Lakers beat RIT, 3-2, on Friday and lost to Canisius, 
4-3, on Saturday. They are off now until a Nov. 19 home game against Niagara. Junior 
forward Matthew Zay leads Mercyhurst at 4-6-10. 

4. Niagara (1-6-1, 1-1-1) . . . The Purple Eagles went 0-for-11 on the power play in a pair of 
losses at Ohio State, 4-1 and 6-1. Niagara is three-for-40 on the power play for the season. 
Opponents have also had 40 power play opportunities and they have scored 14 goals. 

5. AIC (2-3-0, 2-0-0) . . . Down 4-2 after the first period, AIC scored four goals in the 
second to take a 6-5 lead over Bentley and then held off the Falcons down the stretch for 
an 8-7 win. AIC is at Holy Cross on Friday. 

6. Holy Cross (2-6-0, 2-1-0) . . . The Crusaders, who lost their first five games, won 4-1 at 
Army on Friday for their second straight victory. Freshman Nick Finn (Canton, Mass.) 
scored his first two goals in 4-3 loss at UConn on Tuesday. 

7. Canisius (2-5-0, 1-3-0) . . . Sophomore Keegan Asmundson made 31 saves to lead 
Canisius to a 4-3 win over Mercyhurst on Saturday. Asmundson has both Golden Griffins 
wins and is 2-1-0 with a .937 save percentage and 2.33 goals against average. 

8. Sacred Heart (2-7-0, 1-3-0) . . . Junior goalie Alex Vazzano stopped 37 of 39 shots, but 
the Pioneers dropped a 2-1 decision at Penn State on Friday. They lost at home to Army, 
6-2, on Tuesday night. 

9. Bentley (2-7-0, 1-2-0) . . . Junior forward Alex Grieve scored an extra attacker goal with 
1:11 left in the game, but the Falcons could not get another and lost an 8-7 shootout to 
AIC on Friday. Bentley is at UConn on Friday and plays Holy Cross at home on Saturday.

10. RIT (1-5-2, 1-2-0) . . . Winless in its first seven games, RIT scored two goals on three 
power play chances 73 seconds apart in a 4-2 win at Robert Morris on Saturday. Senior 
defenseman Greg Noyes and sophomore forward Josh Mitchell got the goals. 

11. Robert Morris (1-6-1, 1-1-1) . . . Junior forward Cody Wydo had four goals in a game 
a week ago. He followed up with three straight goals in a span of 10 minutes and five 
seconds stretching into the second period in a 6-1 win over Canisius on Friday. 

12. Army (1-6-0, 1-3-0) . . . Junior forward-turned-defenseman Marcel Alvarez had a hat trick 
in a 6-2 win at Sacred Heart on Tuesday. The Black Knights scored eight goals in their 
first half dozen games and then had the six against Sacred Heart.

Twitter: @AllenLessels