The men’s ice hockey team saw their season come to a close this past weekend. Despite a slow start to their season the Yellowjackets almost managed to make their conference tournament — Eastern Collegiate Hockey League Championships.
Going into their season, the men knew that this would be a rebuilding year. In the first semester, the team amassed a 2-8 record and almost completely eliminated themselves from the possibility of post-season play.
The first half of the men’s season was plagued by injuries, preventing consistency in the line-up. “We just couldn’t seem to gel for a full 60 minutes of hockey,” junior co-captain John Haffey said. Unfortunately solid periods don’t get wins, solid games get wins. “We would play periods well, but were marred by small lapses. We’d either have too much of a deficit or we would falter late in the game,” Haffey said.The second semester was a time of improvement and change for the Yellowjackets. At the beginning, UR lost two really close games to Mercyhurst College and Syracuse University, which are the number two and four teams respectively in the ECHL conference.
Since suffering the two tough losses, UR went on a tear and closed out their season 4-0-1.
This past weekend, UR faced off against John Carroll University and Washington and Jefferson College with hope still alive for making the playoffs. In order to make the playoffs, UR needed to beat John Carroll and have them lose to Syracuse and then win against Washington and Jefferson.
Friday, against John Carroll, the game started with a scoreless first period, but 29 seconds into the second period John Carroll scored. UR freshman, Matt Normandeau soon after struck back, knotting the game at one goal a piece. The goal was assisted by sophomore Matt Cavagnaro.
The go-ahead and winning goal was scored by senior Richard Metz in the third period. Metz was assisted by senior Joe Stoklosa and Cavagnaro. The 2-1 victory was a solid victory and propelled UR into Saturday’s game with Washington and Jefferson — the number 16 team in Division I of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, and the number one team in the ECHL. Prior to their game against the Yellowjackets, Washington and Jefferson was 14-1.
The game’s lone goal came from UR freshman Jessie Greenwald 8:55 into the second period. The goal was assisted by junior Jon Wilmot and freshman Derek Benny. The team played strong, and held onto the victory as a result of a strong defensive effort. Freshman goalie, Dinesh Apte, made 20 saves, en route to a 1-0 shutout. This was the first time in Washington and Jefferson’s three year program that they had been shutout. “The team from Washington and Jefferson is the cockiest team we ran into. We really took it to them and made them swallow their pride,” Haffey said.
Unfortunately, for UR the win was bittersweet. While UR pulled off one of the leagues biggest upsets, John Carroll bowed to Syracuse, dashing UR’s playoff hopes.
The end of the season showed promise for next year’s team. “We truly showed that we can compete in our league and next year the conference will be forced to treat us as serious contenders, Haffey said. “Right now we have a lot of motivation and we can’t wait to show the league what we can do next year.”
Fitzsimmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.