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Coronavirus issues force Army hockey to postpone its opener with LIU

By KEN MCMILLAN | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: November 13, 2020

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WEST POINT, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — Brett Riley was very cautious when asked about making his NCAA Division I coaching debut on Saturday with the new Long Island University men's ice hockey team, against his uncle Brian's Army team.

"It's going to be special," Brett said. "I don't want to say too much more just because we're fortunate to go day by day here. You see how quickly things can change in terms of scheduling."

His prescient concerns came true on Friday when West Point administration had to postpone the LIU-Army game due to what the U.S. Military Academy is calling "a small number of COVID-19 cases and subsequent contact tracing." The Nov. 20 Holy Cross at Army contest is also postponed, though the Nov. 22 return game in Worcester, Mass., is still on.

It was not made clear if the West Point cases are tied to players, coaches or rink staff.

"The health and safety of our team, Corps of Cadets and West Point community is always most important," said Army coach Brian Riley. "We are disappointed with the postponements, but will continue to mitigate the spread and look forward to get back out on the ice soon."

West Point public relations staff confirmed last week that at least 110 cadets had COVID or were quarantined by contract tracing. Army football coach Jeff Monken said an unspecified number of his players also had COVID or were quarantined by tracing — his team departed for New Orleans on Friday to face Tulane on Saturday. Also, a tri-meet cross country Veterans Day event on Wednesday between Army, Navy and Air Force — three military academies that are all dealing with COVID — was canceled.

A make-up contest with LIU shouldn't be a problem, due to the close proximity of the schools and available weeknight dates. Army is also scheduled to host LIU on Feb. 26-27.

Through the end of the calendar year, Army is set to play Sacred Heart on Nov. 27 (road) and 28 (home), Bentley on Dec. 4 (home) and 5 (away) and play at American International on Dec. 15.

The college hockey season was scheduled for a brief start this weekend. Notre Dame is hosting Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday, Arizona State is visiting Michigan on Saturday and Sunday and Bowling Green was hosting lower-division Adrian on Friday. Fuller schedules are set for next week, starting Thursday and up to Thanksgiving Eve.

Long Island is next scheduled to play on Nov. 25 at Quinnipiac and against American International on Dec. 4 (away) and 5 (home, at the Islanders training rink, the Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow).

kmcmillan@th-record.com

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