SEASON REFLECTIONS: RILEY ARMSTRONG

Q: Overall how do you feel the season went?

A: I felt that it went pretty well. Obviously, a slow start, which is something that we need to fix. I felt that once we got rolling, we came into a groove through our busiest part, December, January, and February. Even though we lost five in a row at the beginning of January, I still felt that we put three really good months together. It set us up for a good playoff spot. Overall I think it was a pretty good year.

Q: What was your favorite moment during the season?

A: My favorite moment was early December. We were seven points behind Adirondack at the time, but we had five games in hand. At that time, leading into Christmas, we were starting to play Adirondack six times that month and we beat them every single game. That part of the season is my favorite because it got our team going on the right trend. We started picking up points. The guys started picking up confidence in themselves, but also in the team and the system. It was pretty cool to see guys start to develop and mature on the ice and away from the rink at the same time. It was a good turning point in the year.

Q: What was your favorite promotional night?

A: Miracle Night! The jerseys and everything like that was spot on. I think it’s awesome to go back in hockey history for the United States and do that night. I thought it was great! I also felt honoring Captain Joel Barnes was awesome too. To have so many firefighters in attendance, I thought was pretty cool honor the people that run into buildings when everybody is running out.

Q: Which of your players were you most impressed with?

A: There are a lot to be honest. You could go through the roster. From a standpoint of a guy getting his game back, coming along through the course of the year was Alex Kile. When you look at a player like Dillan Fox who kind of made his mark last year and that definitely carried over as he put up over 20 goals in the shortened season. Then when you look at Ted Hart, I think he has the potential of 20 to 30 goals in this league and to maybe play in the American Hockey League as well. I thought him going down to the SPHL and then coming up, he surprised a lot of people in the pro hockey world. I think I could touch on every single guy on who surprised me the most. I felt that there were times in the year where other guys really stood out. I think everybody had a special moment during the year.

Q: Did you meet any goals that you set for the team? If yes, what were they?

A: First, we wanted to win the season series against Worcester, Adirondack and all of our divisional teams. We had one or two more games against Reading in the year that if we won both of those it would have been close. Every other season series, we had a pretty good grasp on within our division. We wanted to be better defensively. Our goals against was down quite a bit from year one to year two. We were much better in our own zone, the way we defended and played defense. I think at the start of the year you could see it turn. We were almost right around 2 goals against per game, which is pretty good. Once the dog days of the year came on there, Connor [LaCouvee] and Francois [Brassard] were playing great for us at that time as well and that is when we started to get hot too and put up some pretty good win streaks.

Q: Is there anything that you want to say to the fanbase?

A: Thank you for the support! I know for myself since coming to Portland was wanting to bring playoff hockey back to the city and back into the Cross Insurance Arena. I think it’s the most exciting time of the year, in sports in general for a fan or even an athlete is to play or watch the game when it is coming down to the playoff race or in the playoffs. I wanted to bring that to the city of Portland and hopefully in year three, we can get off to a better start. We are looking to bring back a lot of the core guys to the team. I think it’s awesome for our fans to build those connections with the players to keep them coming back. I know it doesn’t go unnoticed with our fan support, but also the people of Portland and how welcoming they are to the guys and making them feel welcome when they’re out having a bite to eat or out on the town. It’s been an awesome experience so far in the first two years so I would just like to say thank you!