By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsDecember 4, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Dec. 3, 2018) -- Soldier-athletes trying out for the All Army Hockey Team faced their first opponents Dec. 1 during a scrimmage against the visiting West Point Club Hockey Team at the Watertown Municipal Arena.
All Army took a commanding 5-1 lead in the first period with Pfc. Michael Antoniou scoring twice, and 1st Lt. Joseph Kozlak, 1st Lt. Richard Metcalf and Spc. Jordan McInnis each contributing a goal.
First Lt. Shane Hearn started the second period by scoring two goals, Kozlak recorded his second, and 1st Lt. Joshua Roberts and Capt. Jeff Fearing added one apiece.
Roberts and Cpl. Timothy Houston each scored a goal to conclude the scoring spree in the final period for a 12-2 win.
Lt. Col. Darrin Janisch, assistant coach, said that, after three days of practice, the game served as a good indication of what the players are capable of and what still needs work.
"Tonight was about making the simple plays, and that's what we did," he said. "I thought they moved the puck well, they did a pretty good job of backchecking ... a really good solid effort. Sometimes when you have a bit of an overmatch on some of the lines - like we had tonight - guys can fall into bad habits, and they didn't."
Roberts, assigned to 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, described the game as an entire team effort - built from the chemistry developed over the past three days of practices.
"We have a great group of players, great goaltending and great coaching, so we're just looking to build off of that and keep playing our hardest," he said.
Roberts said that he felt lucky to be on the ice again, joining teammates he played with on the Army West Point Hockey Team. Roberts, a U.S. Military Academy Class of 2016 graduate, previously played at the Division I level with Hearn, Kozlak, 1st Lt. Luke Jenkins and 2nd Lt. C.J. Reuschlein.
"It's awesome getting to play with them," he said. "We all thought our last competitive game together was a couple of years ago, so it's just fortunate that we all get to do this again. We're not going to take it for granted."
After the game, Reuschlein, a USMA Class of 2017 graduate, caught up with the West Point Club Hockey captain, Class of 2019 Cadet Thomas Crane.
This is the second year that Crane competed against the All Army team, and he said that the score was much closer the last time.
"It's a good experience for us to come up here and play against All Army," he said. "Definitely a tough game for us, but it's good to be out here and compete."
Reuschlein said that he was in the same company as Crane when he attended the academy.
"It was actually incredible playing against these cadets and with the guys on the All Army team - seeing a lot of familiar faces," Reuschlein said. "It has really been an honor being here."
Reuschlein said that he was pleased with the outcome of the game as the All Army team continues to develop.
"We're still getting to know each other, trying to mesh together and learning how to play together," he said. "I thought we did well tonight, obviously the score reflected that, so we're excited for what's next."
Fearing, All Army head coach and player, is also the first-year coach of the West Point Club Hockey Team.
"It's fun coaching that group because they are all great cadets and great people," he said. "They are like the best you can ever hope to teach because they are receptive to everything. Just being able to go out there and play this game with them tonight was really an awesome experience."
The All Army Hockey Team is scheduled to play the Watertown Wolves at 2 p.m. Dec. 5 at Cerow Ice Arena in Clayton. The game is free and open to the public. It will feature the final roster - after cuts were made over the weekend - as the players continue to train for international competition in Finland later this month.