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January 3rd, 2009

Army Hockey Shocks #2 Miami

Jay Clark. Photo: AAC
COLUMBUS, OHIO – How do you make a 10-hour bus ride back to New York, on the end of an 11-game, 50-day roadtrip more enjoyable? Shock the second-ranked team in the country.

Cody Omilusik scored two goals and Jay Clark made a career-best 56 saves as Army upset #2 Miami, 3-2, Saturday afternoon in the consolation game of the Ohio Hockey Classic at the Value City Arena.

Few gave the Black Knights a chance in this contest but Clark turned in his best effort and Army scored opportunistic goals to stun the Red Hawks.

Army entered the game on a three-game losing streak, without two regular starters -- including captain Zach McKelvie -- and was coming off a 6-1 loss to Ohio State on Friday. Miami had won eight of its previous nine games, was seeking the 200th career win for head coach Enrico Blasi, is among the Central Collegiate Hockey Association leaders in goals per game and coming off a disappointing loss to Clarkson.

Instead, Eric Sefchik scored the game-winning goal in the third period and a Clark made the advantage hold up as Army won its first non-conference game since 2004.

The Black Knights’ last non-conference win came in Hamilton, N.Y., against Colgate, 3-2, on Oct. 30, 2004. Army’s last win against a CCHA opponent was a two-game sweep at Nebraska-Omaha Nov. 6 and 7, 1998.

Ohio State beat Clarkson 2-0 to capture the championship title. Omilusik was named to the All-Tournament team along with Clarkson’s Bryan Rufenach and Ohio State Corey Elkins, Shane Sims, Hunter Bishop and goalie Dustin Carlson. Elkins was named the MVP.

“Any time you get a chance to play a ranked team, especially one as high as Miami, you look at it as an opportunity,” said Army head coach Brian Riley. “We had nothing to lose; the pressure was all on Miami. I was worried about Miami having a spark after losing to Clarkson but our guys played hard and gave a great effort.”

Miami held a 58-19 advantage in shots on goal but Army netted two short-handed goals to conclude its 11-game roadtrip with a victory and beat the Red Hawks in the first meeting between these two teams.

Clark, a sophomore, made 15 saves in the first period, 19 in the second and 24 in the final 20 minutes to pull off the upset and win his third game of the season. Miami had three third period power plays with eight shots on goal but a hustling Army defense and an acrobatic Clark made the difference.

Clark established a new Ohio Hockey Classic record for saves in a game, surpassing the 43 Chris Clark of Minnesota State made in 2004 against Miami. He also tied the tournament record for saves in joining Brandon Crawford-West of Miami (2004), Dustin Carlson of Ohio State (2007) and Kyle Richter of Harvard (2007). Clark is the first Army goalie to make at least 50 saves since Brad Roberts turned away 51 shots against Bentler on March 11, 2006.

“Miami is a talented team,” said Clark. “It was a very stressful game but definitely the biggest win of my collegiate career.”

Army improved to 5-12-1 on the season while Miami fell to 12-5-3.

Owen Meyer had a pair of assists and Will Ryan and Jake Hannon were credited with assists to aid the defense of Mark Tilch, Matt Hickey, Pat Copeland, Hannon, Marcel Alvarez and Scott Warner.

Clark was tested early in a scoreless first period. He made 15 saves, including two stops when Army was on the power play. Army had three power plays during the first 20 minutes and Miami two but neither team was able to break through. Meyer had a short-handed opportunity and Omilusik had a pair of shots on net for the Black Knights.

“That was one of the best efforts from an Army goaltender during my time at Army and I have been here for a while,” said Riley.

Army scored the first goal early in the second period. Clark made three saves during a Miami power play chance before the Black Knights worked the puck in the opposite end. Sefchik took a long shot and Omilusik battled for the rebound. He and Ryan each had a shot on goal before Omilusik used his backhand for his eighth goal of the season and his second short-handed score. It was the second consecutive game with an assist for Ryan and it came with 18:03 remaining in the second period.

The Black Knights extended their advantage to 2-0 on Omilusik’s second goal. Meyer picked up the puck near the Army blue line from Hannon. Meyer skated through two defenders and fed Omilusik, who buried the opportunity. It was the sixth assist of the season for Meyer and Hannon’s third.

“We talked about the opportunity of playing one of the top-ranked teams in the country,” said Omilusik. “To come out and beat the number two team in the country is something we will remember.”

The Red Hawks scored their first goal on their 30th shot of the game. Clark initially made two saves but Andy Miele poked in the rebound to make it a 2-1 game with 4:44 left in the second period to bring the large Miami crowd to its feet.

Miami tied the game five minutes into the final period, taking advantage of a third opportunity of a rebound. Pat Cannone was credited with the goal, his eighth of the season, making the score 2-2 with 15:39 remaining in the game.
Army went back on top, 3-2, just 51 seconds later on Sefchik’s team-leading third short-handed goal of the season. Sefchik, who was playing approximately two hours from his hometown of Brooklyn, Ohio, gathered the puck near the Army blue line off of a Meyer pass, skated in, beat a defender and netted the backhanded goal. It was his third game-winning goal of the season.

Army will return to Tate Rink for a two-game Atlantic Hockey Association series with Mercyhurst on Jan. 9-10. The first 1,000 fans through the turnstiles will receive a Jack Riley bobblehead for Friday’s contest with CBS College Sports Network will televise Saturday’s game. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m.
5 / 5 (1 Votes)

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