By Victoria Saporito
The Sacred Heart University men’s hockey team will take the ice at Webster Bank Arena (WBA) on Oct. 15 for their first home game. The Pioneers announced their five-year partnership with the arena on Sept. 19 and this advancement will make the game day experience even better for the athletes, students and fans.
“We hope the student base and Sacred Heart community will see the legitimacy that this venue adds to our program and come support us,” said senior captain Mitch Nylen.
The Pioneers will have a locker room, along with athletic training and equipment areas, a team room and coaches offices as part of their partnership with WBA.
“It’s pretty neat for a couple of reasons,” said Nylen. “It’s nice to know that we have the same home and same facility as a professional hockey team and it’s a great opportunity for our team to be seen by professional scouts.”
Another upside to this transition for the hockey program is that there are season tickets and individual ticket plans, which can be purchased on Ticketmaster.com.
The Pioneers are entering this season with the expectation to finish on top in their league.
“Having a team of mostly upperclassmen, there is no reason why that shouldn’t be possible this year,” said Nylen.
Bringing their passion, work ethic and accountability on and off the ice will ensure success for the men this year.
“We expect to get better everyday and at the end of the year we would like to be in position to compete for a league championship,” said Head Coach C.J. Marottolo.
“There is no question that the move to Webster Bank Arena has created a new excitement within the Sacred Heart community and within our team,” said Marottolo. “It will give our current players a great sense of pride to be able to call WBA home.”
Aside from marking a new era for the hockey program at Sacred Heart, moving to the Webster Bank Arena will help the coaches with their recruiting process and hopefully draw a lot more talented players in the near future. The overall hockey experience will be different for alumni and fans.
“The university has made a strong statement about their commitment to helping our student-athletes be the best they can be. It has made our alums, present and future players truly grateful,” said Marottolo.
The Pioneers hope to improve their record this season after finishing 13-20-4 last year. A lot of young talent resides within this year’s squad, which will play a significant role in taking the team to the top for seasons to come.
Playing in Webster Bank Arena will expose the athletes to a much bigger audience. It will also open up plenty of opportunities for them to take hockey to a much higher level of competition.
“The school has shown that they’re behind us and now we have to go out there and prove to them that it was a worthwhile decision,” said Nylen. “Moving into WBA is a blessing for us.”