Men’s club hockey dominated its final game at the Genesee Valley Park ice skating arena Thursday night outshooting Syracuse University 62-24. The overwhelming shots on goal advantage did not translate into victory, however, as the fourth-seeded Yellowjackets were upset by the fifth-seeded Orangemen 7-3 in the first round of the Eastern Collegiate Hockey League championships.

“We definitely dominated the game,” sophomore defense-man John Haffey said. “We just couldn’t buy a goal. The bounces just weren’t going our way.”

It did not take Syracuse long to build a lead. The Orangemen scored on their first two shots on goal and were quickly ahead of UR 2-0. It was a hole the Yellowjackets could not dig their way out of. The team found itself down 6-1 at the end of the second period.

“If we would have gotten a couple of bounces our way in the first period that may have turned the game around,” senior forward and captain Mike Evans said. “Instead, it felt like we were playing out of a hole for the entire game. The positive thing is that the team didn’t let up.”

The team produced 50 shots on goal in the final two periods while limiting Syracuse to just 15.

“I’m happy with the way we played,” head coach V.J. Stanley said. “We left everything out on the ice.”

The second round began Friday afternoon with Mercyhurst College overcoming a 4-2 deficit with eight minutes to go in the third period against Cornell University. Mercyhurst eventually won 6-4. The Orangemen were upended later in the evening by first-seeded Washington and Jefferson University 7-1.

The tournament ended Saturday with Washington and Jefferson winning the ECHL tournament 5-4 in overtime. Washington and Jefferson dominated the game, out-shooting Mercy-hurst 81-34, but was trailing 4-1 going into the third period.

Looking forward

Despite the loss, Evans was confident with the team’s direction. UR finished the year with a winning record at 8-7 and a fourth place finish in league play. It was a striking improvement over last year’s losing record.

“I wish I had another year so I could see where the guys are going. I told them after the game that they were going to have one hell of a team next year,” Evans said.

Haffey agreed. “A winning record is always a good thing. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted in the end but I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

Recruitment

After the season, Stanley switches into a full-time recruiting mode, trying to convince prospective freshmen who played hockey at the high school, junior B league or midget hockey league level that UR and the hockey program is for them.

Stanley said he looks at about 500 players in any given year and estimates that on average he likes about 100 of them. Of that 100, he said he tries to contact all of those players and ultimately decides on around 40 players he feels would be a good fit for the squad.

Stanley brings as many of the 40 recruits to campus as possible to stay with his players so they get a better feel for UR, the facility and the team. The final decision whether the recruit comes to UR lies in the hands of the admissions process.

Usually, between five and ten recruits will enroll as freshmen in the fall.

Next year’s team will only lose five of 23 players and hopes to build off this year’s successes.

“If we play like we finished the year coming into next season, we’ll definitely be a dominant team,” Haffey said. “We proved we can play with the best of them.”

Hildebrandt can be reached at thildebrandt@campustimes.org.



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