KINGSTON, ONTARIO – For the fifth-straight year, the Army hockey team won the Challenge Trophy with a 4-3 win against RMC in the 80th all-time meeting between the two military academies.
The Black Knights were led by Ian Mansfield, who tallied two goals and the gamewinner, while Josh Roberts added two points with a goal and an assist. Cole Bruns got the start in net and earned the win.
The Paladins fought to the very end and got goals from three different skaters, while Matthew Beirnes got the start in net and was exceptional in the loss.
The Black Knights got out to the early lead with Reuschlein scoring on a redirection in front with assists to Conor Andrle and Tyler Pham. The trio broke into the zone on a 3-on-2 and Pham slid the puck over to Andrle and he waited for Reuschlein to get set up in front. Andrle fired a low shot that Reuschlein tipped between the pads of the netminder to make it 1-0 with 16:45 on the clock in the first period.
Army added to its lead with Mansfield sniping one from the slot. Tipper Higgins found his classmate from the side boards to earn the assist, while Shane Hearn added the secondary helper to put Army up 2-0 with 11:42 remaining in the first.
The Paladins cut the lead to one with Owen Gill scoring off a crazy bounce of the puck. RMC crashed the net and the puck popped out the opposite side to Gill and Bruns couldn’t recover as the teams went into the intermission with the Black Knights leading 2-1.
Roberts added to the Black Knights’ lead with a nifty breakaway tally. He collected the puck in the neutral zone after a Paladin turnover and was able to shield off a defender and find the net with a backhand to get the two goal lead back to Army. RMC answered moments later with Jake Bullen scoring on a scrum in front of Burns to make it a one goal lead for the Black Knights with 11:41 left in the middle frame.
The Paladins tied the game late in the third period with John Livingston scoring in front and the teams went to the second intermission tied at 3-3.
Army regained the lead in the third period with Mansfield scoring his second of the night with assists to Kozlak and Roberts. Kozlak was able to pick up a loose puck behind the net and slid the puck across the crease, where Mansfield was waiting and he slammed it home for the 4-3 lead.
The Paladins had a few chances down the stretch, but the Black Knights held on for the win in the closest game in the series since a 3-3 tie in 2006.