Army’s special teams rose to the forefront once again as the Black Knights reclaimed the Challenge Trophy with a 4-0 shutout of Royal Military College of Canada before a sold-out Tate Rink crowd of 2,859 Saturday night.
Army (13-12-0) increased its all-time lead in the international series to 37-29-6 with the help of three power-play goals. RMC (5-17-1) failed to score on all four of its man-up opportunities as Black Knight freshman goaltender Brad Roberts stopped 20 shots to record his third shutout of the season.
Army outshot RMC 51-20, setting a new mark for shots on goal in a game this season.
After 20 minutes of scoreless hockey, Nic Serre got the home team on the board 11 minutes into the second period when he banged home a rebound from right out in front of the Paladins’ net. The Black Knights followed with the first of their power-play goals when Chad Mayfield scored with just seven seconds left in the period.
Chris Casey notched his team-leading sixth power-play tally midway through the final stanza when he poked at a loose puck in front of the net and slid it between the pads of RMC goalie John Haggis.
Chris Garceau completed the sophomore line’s collective hat trick, salting the game away with just under three minutes remaining.
Five Army players tallied at least twice with Garceau’s three-point night leading the way. Serre, Mayfield and Casey each had a goal and an assists. Defenseman Matt Field had two assists.
The blanking of RMC was the ninth shutout of the storied series history and Army’s fifth. It was the first time that the Black Knights shut out the Paladins since 1996 and the first time they did it at West Point since 1971.
It is also the first time since 1995-96 that Army swept all three service academy games in one season. The Black Knights downed Air Force twice in mid-January as well.
Army returns to action next Friday night with a MAAC contest at Fairfield. Faceoff is set for 8 p.m. at the Wonderland of Ice. Saturday, the Black Knights will return home to face the Stags for the final time, as Fairfield will drop its hockey program effective at the end of this season. Game time Saturday is set for 7 p.m.