The Sacred Heart men’s hockey team is currently 11- 14-2 on the season. They are sitting in second place in the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) and are 11-7-1 in conference play.
If Sacred Heart wins the championship, it would be the first AHA title in school history.
“There is a lot of hockey to be played,” said Head Coach C.J. Marottolo. “We are just worried about the next game in front of us. The results will take care of themselves.”
One of the team’s most consistent players has been graduate student Kevin Lombardi. Lombardi has nine goals, 10 assists, and 19 points this season. He is second on the team in goals and assists, and places third in points.
“There are a lot of new faces and younger guys and I am just trying to be someone that they can talk to, and just someone that they can come to for advice or whatever it is. It’s something I take a lot of pride in,” said Marottolo.
Lombardi is in his fifth year with the Pioneers, and is not the only graduate student to wear the signature pioneer silver helmet this season. T.J. Walsh is in his first season with the Pioneers, having previously played at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
“T.J. has been an awesome addition to our team. He’s an awesome person. He fits in great with our culture. He’s played very well all year. He is a highly intelligent player. He knows how to find pockets of ice, and produce offense,” said Marottolo.
Walsh leads the team with 12 goals and 23 points. He is also tied for second with 11 assists this season.
Although the team is in first place, they have been a bit inconsistent lately. They are 6-8-1 over their last 15 games.
We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. We’ve had some games where we’ve played really well and some games where we wish we could have played better and gotten a different result, but at the end of the day we are just trying to get better each day and continue to improve and get ready for the playoffs over the next few weeks,” said Walsh.
The Pioneers have had some trouble staying out of the penalty box over their last 13 games.
“We are one of the least penalized teams in college hockey, but over this past week, that trend is going the opposite direction,” said Marottolo. “You can’t have success if you have undisciplined play. You gotta play whistle to whistle tough and that’s what we have been talking to our guys about and I think they understand that.”
The Pioneers will try and finish the regular season strong and head into the AHA tournament, which starts on March 2. “We want to take it each weekend one at a time, each game one at a time,” said Walsh. “At the end of the day we obviously want to win a championship and we have the team to do that.”
The Pioneers are back on the ice on Friday, Feb. 2 when they take on American International College (AIC) at the Martire Family Arena.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.