Army hockey: A chat with coach Brian Riley ahead of the rivalry RMC game

Army and Royal Military College of Canada resume the longest-standing college hockey rivalry on Saturday, January 20, in Kingston, Ontario. Army has won the last six matchups but the latest confrontations have been close battles.
We talked to Army coach Brian Riley about the rivalry game and the Black Knights’ recent play.

THR: What do you think of the matchup?
Riley: The last two years have really been one-goal games: 4-3 up there and last year we won 5-3 with an empty net goal. The games certainly the last couple of years have been real close. I anticipate it will be the same. They have a freshman who is the leading goal scorer in all of Canadian college hockey … he has 18 goals. It will be a battle. I think it’s good for us to play in a rivalry game like this because that will help prepare us as we get ready to come down the home stretch here for Atlantic Hockey.

THR: Army has played a very tough schedule this year, knocking off ranked teams four times and you played Minnesota tough. Is the schedule kind of grueling this year?
Riley: It’s a challenging schedule, obviously with the non-league games that we played and the fact that only one of the non-league games is at home. But also what makes it so grueling is the fact that our league … there is so much parity in our league. There’s not any teams where you can say, hey, we should come away with a couple wins here. The parity in our league, with the challenging non-conference schedule, has made this probably the toughest schedule that we’ve had since I’ve been here.

THR: As a coach, how concerned are you, especially since you have six weeks ahead of you?
Riley: That’s why you just try to live in the moment and you try not to think about the six weeks. We will just focus on RMC this week but once we get back into league play … next week it will be just worrying about Mercyhurst because if you start looking, and then you start saying, man, we’ve got such a tough stretch, like there’s no letdown. I think the big thing is just living in the moment and when you get back into the league you have to try to come up with something every weekend, and by something I mean points … two points, three points, four points. The league is so tight that if you have a weekend where you don’t come up with anything … this weekend that’s going to happen to us, and you’re going to drop three spots. It is exciting but it’s a real grind.

THR: Have you been altering your lineup, and using extra players for rest?
Riley: We’ve moved some guys around and I think that’s been a little bit of our issue, trying to find chemistry with some guys. I am hoping last week we found a little something. You don’t want to move guys too much, especially coming down the stretch, because you always want to be playing your best hockey in February and coming into the playoffs. If anything for us, it’s chemistry and just feeling good about the lineup. You always know guys are going to get dinged up and we’re going to have guys ready to go.

THR: Did you move the lineup to find something, or are you making moves because of injuries?
Riley: I think it was two weeks ago we moved some guys around, just hopefully to find something. We need some secondary scoring. We have a top line (Michael Wilson, Tyler Pham, Dominic Franco) that has been giving us a lot of scoring and we split them up and no we’ve gone back to them and we are relying on other guys who have put up numbers before to hopefully put up some numbers down the stretch here.

THR: You certainly received more balanced scoring from your four lines last season.
Riley: This year we haven’t had quite as much production spread out. Lately, we’re starting to get a little bit more of that so I am hoping we will have more balance in our offense.

THR: You got Cole Bruns back in goal, and you played him and Jared Dempsey last weekend. How will you use them the rest of the way?
Riley: We will take it weekend by weekend. Brunsy came off an injury so it was good to get him a game last week. It wasn’t good news when we heard he had to go out, but Dems has stepped in and played really well so now he has himself in the conversation and I feel that whoever we have in there, they have a good chance to help us win a game.

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    Ken McMillan

    Sports editor Ken McMillan has been covering sports since he got his first writing job in 1979. He has covered Section 9 athletics for the past 35 years. He reports on local college and high school. He also writes on TV/radio sports news, having ... Read Full
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