Franco’s Hat Trick Sends Army Past Niagara 5-1

By Ally Keirn Army Athletic Communications

November 29th, 2018 | Army and Community Sports, Sports
 Senior Forward Tipper Higgins (19), above, controls the puck near the Niagra net during the Black Knight’s 5-1 victory. Below, Junior Forward Dominic Franco (11) sets up near the Niagra net. Franco scored the first hat trick in two seasons for the Black Knights, the last coming from Michael Wilson against Bentley last February.  Photos by Paul Rader

After falling to Niagara3-1 on Friday night, the Army West Point hockey team was fueled by a hat trick by Dominic Franco and a pair of goals by Colin Bilek as they sailed past the Purple Eagles, 5-1, on Saturday evening.
Franco scored the first hat trick in two seasons for the Black Knights, the last coming from Michael Wilson against Bentley last February.
Bilek notched a pair of goals in the win for a career-high, while Zach Evancho contributed a career-high three helpers.

How it happened
The Black Knights scored on the power play to kick off the night.
After a scramble for the puck in the right corner, Dalton MacAfee and Evancho pushed the puck to Bilek in the right circle who had an open lane to goal and fired it past Brian Wilson.
Evancho set Army up for the second goal of the game in a similar way.
Both teams started the second period with a penalty and the Cadets capitalized on the 4-on-4 play when Evancho snagged the puck off a faceoff and fed it to Franco who backhanded a shot over Wilson to pad Army’s lead, 2-0.
The Purple Eagles answered back however with a goal at the 8:21 mark.
Franco netted two more in the frame for his first-career hat trick.
For Army’s third goal, Franco won the faceoff working it back to MacAfee. The defender one-timed a shot from the blue line and Franco tipped it in past Wilson just five seconds into a power play opportunity.
To close out the period, Franco tipped in yet another shot to put the Black Knights ahead 4-1.
Evancho passed the puck up the boards to Alex Wilkinson who took the initial shot. Franco tipped it in past Wilson on the doorstep for the score.
Halfway through the third, Andrew Quetell one-timed a shot from the right point and Bilek flipped home the rebound to give Army a 5-1 advantage.

Highlights and game notes
Franco netted the hat trick to mark the first time an Army player scored three goals in a game since his classmate Wilson did a season ago.
Two of Franco’s three goals came on the power play to mark the second time a Black Knight has done so this season, the last being Wilkinson against UConn.
Franco tallied three points on the night. It is the sixth time in his career to have a three-point performance.
The junior is the only Army player to have multiple games with more than one goal this season.
Franco boasts 14 multi-point games in his three-year career at Army.
He tallied the game-winner with his first score of the evening. It was his second game-winner of the year and third in his career.
Bilek’s two goals tonight was also a career-high.
The rookie scored the first and last goal of the evening with the first coming on the man-advantage.
Bilek has tallied five goals on the season and has seven points.
Tonight’s goal was his second power play score this year.
Evancho’s three helpers was a career-high. The last player to post a trio of assists was John Zimmerman in last year’s win over Sacred Heart.
Evancho now boasts two games with two assists in his career, while the junior improves to 10 multi-point games.
Tonight marked the first win for Army with Evancho not in the goal column.
MacAfee recorded his eighth multi-assist game in his career tonight.
He now leads the team with 15 points this season. MacAfee owns a stat line of two goals and 13 helpers, while also posting 25 blocks.
Quetell, Wilkinson and Brendan Soucie also aided on the scoring tonight.
Jared Dempsey preserved the win by making 17 saves.
He now owns a record of 2-3-0 in conference play.
Quetell gained his second assist of the season tonight, while Wilkinson added his 12th of the season and Soucie his fourth.

Up next
The Black Knights will be back in action at Tate Rink next weekend to host Canisius. Friday’s game will be at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s will be another matinee at 4 p.m.