BY Maria Cipriano
For the first time in program history, the Sacred Heart Men’s Ice Hockey team claimed a championship title at the inaugural Connecticut Ice Tournament at Webster Bank Arena over the weekend of Jan. 25-26. Sacred Heart claimed the title after defeating Quinnipiac University 4-1 in the championship game.
The Connecticut Ice Tournament is similar to the Beanpot tournament that is held in Boston, which includes four teams that compete for a title over the course of one weekend. Four teams were a part of the Connecticut Ice Tournament: Yale University, University of Connecticut, Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac.
Head coach CJ Marottolo gave insight into the potential that the CT Ice Tournament has after being broadcasted by SportsNet New York (SNY).
“The Beanpot obviously has been around a lot longer and has so much history, but I truly believe that the CT Ice Festival that SNY organized has tremendous potential,” said Marottolo.
The crowd played a huge role in the Pioneers win against Quinnipiac Sunday night. Marottolo believed that it motivated his team.
“A few of our players said they had chills as they skated out onto the ice and saw a sea of red,” said Marottolo. “The fans this weekend were the difference in us winning and losing! They provided great energy for our team. We would not have won it without them. All of the fans should take part of this champions home with them as well.”
Senior Jason Cotton was crowned Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament. Over the two games, Cotton scored two goals and assisted on two others.
Marottolo also commented on how the team could build upon the success from CT Ice Tournament.
“As our team pushes towards the goal of winning an Atlantic Hockey championship, our group can definitely draw on the experiences from this event,” stated Marottolo.
The Pioneers faced off against Yale and Quinnipiac, both teams that are not in their conference. This pushed Sacred Heart to overcome the challenges that they faced in both games.
“To win a championship, teams must face adversity and learn to deal with momentous swings within the game, which we were faced with on Sunday night versus Quinnipiac in the championship game,” said Marottolo.
A moment of winning a championship is something that Marottolo says his team has prepared for throughout the course of the season.
“Being prepared for this moment comes in many different ways. Our team prepares all week by practicing hard on the ice and in the weight room, by watching videos of themselves and our opponents, and lastly by believing and trusting each other,” said Marottolo.
Following their successful weekend, the Pioneers were ranked twentieth in the country according to the United States College Hockey Online rankings. The Pioneers followed up their Connecticut Ice championship with a pair of wins against Atlantic Hockey foe, Air Force. The team continues conference play on Feb. 11 on the road against American International.