By: John Flanigan
This past weekend, the Sacred Heart club hockey team ended the first half of their season. The team is entering the winter break with a record of 7-5-2 in 14 games from October, to November.
Rookie head coach, Dave Jurasek, said the coaching staff as well as the team were, “very happy with the performance. Winning always feels great, and there hasn’t been a team thus far this season that we haven’t skated with.”
Sacred Heart was able to record a point in their first seven games, winning six out of seven games. This streak included a 4-2 win over conference opponent Marist College, the No. 9 team in the rankings.
“The benefits of experience proved to be massive in the first third of the season. To grind out some of those wins the way we did was crucial for getting our new and returning players on the same page,” said senior defenseman, Michael Blando.
However, the winning streak was lost on October 28, as Roger Williams University, the No.1 team in the rankings, defeated Sacred Heart 3-1.
The team then lost a string of tough games as they found themselves riding a five-game losing streak, bringing their record to 6-5-1.
“We lost some hard fought battles againstsome of the consistent top contenders in the Northeast Conference, including William Patterson, Keene State, and New Hampshire,” said Blando. “This showed us the level we need to play at, on a consistent basis.”
In a hard fought 4-2 win, Sacred Heart defeated Montclair State University, on Nov. 17, to get back to their winning ways.
Junior, goalie, Brandon Rozzi, made 26 saves en route to his and the team’s seventh win of the season.
“It felt really good to get that solid win over a conference opponent, and snap that long losing streak,” said Rozzi
Senior, Rocco Coviello, scored three-of-the-four Sacred Heart goals, including a hat-trick.
“Montclair State, is notoriously known for being a gritty team. To go to their rink and earn a win was huge, especially after working hard and coming up short for five games. The physicality of that game helped us come together as a team that night,” said Blando.
Last season, the team advanced to Regionals, but fell to Eastern Connecticut State University, 6-2. In the offseason, the program made some major changes towards legitimizing club hockey as a top team in the American College Hockey Association Division II.
“The additions of our head coach Dave Jurasek, and our assistant coach Geoff Dumas, has already been greatly beneficial to how the team operates,” said Blando.
The team also switched conferences from the NECHA conference, to the Super East, which can be considered as the most competitive conference at the Division II level.
“The ability to play top teams on a consistent basis under the leadership of two coaches that are passionate about taking this team to the next level, will be a massive benefit for the team’s future,” said Blando.
As far as the rest of the season, there are a few things Jurasek says the team needs to improve upon.
“Offensively, we need to be stronger with the puck, and shoot every opportunity. Defensively, we need to hold our positions, while maintaining faith that our teammates will hold theirs,” said Jurasek. “We already have the talent and the ability, we now just need the patience to play within the system.”
As far as returning to Regionals, “when we play our game, I’ll take us against anyone,” said Rozzi.