Final Period of Men’s Hockey Season

Sacred Heart University’s Men’s Hockey season came to an end on March 9 after two Atlantic hockey tournament losses to Niagara University. Sacred Heart was the No. 3 seed, and Niagara was the No. 7 seed. This marked an early exit to the tournament for the second year in a row at the hands of Niagara.

Head coach C.J. Marottolo, who has been the coach for the Pioneers for 14 seasons, said this loss was one of the hardest ones he had to process. “The loss is still very raw. All the players and coaches are very disappointed, and it has been very hard to get over it. Hopefully, we can use the loss to fuel us for next year,” said Marottolo.

Despite the loss, Marottolo was very happy with the way his team played this year. The Pioneers finished with an overall record of 14-19-3, and in conference they were 14-10-2, which allowed them to get the three seed when the tournament started.

Marottolo said, “We had a great group of guys this year. For the bulk of the year, we played consistent hockey that allowed us to sustain success and be one of the top seeds in the playoffs. We hope to build on the good with next year’s team and continue to build on the track we’re on.”

Marottolo wants to challenge veteran players this offseason to help build the culture this team needs to continue the consistent success they have had.

Junior forward Daniel Ebrahim emphasized how the team must learn from this year to get to where they want to be next year.

“For us, next year starts in the offseason,” said Ebrahim. “We look to come in with confidence and get over how this season ended. You don’t want to dwell on the past, but we need to build confidence now so that when it is time for the playoffs, we are ready for it.”

“We had a rough start to the season, and without the team coming together I don’t think we would have been one of the higher-seeded teams in the playoffs,” said Ebrahim. “Coming together allowed us to succeed later in the year.”

Team captain and junior defensemen, Hunter Sansbury, explained how team chemistry leads to a successful season.

“When you have a great group around you it’s easy to come to the rink every day even in a long season,” said Sansbury. “Knowing that your teammates will pick you up when you are down, makes you want to win for them.”

Although Sansbury and the team are upset with the loss, he believes it is the perfect tool to transition into a new season.

“As a team, all we can do right now is get to work. Getting stronger physically and mentally allows you to play harder in a long season, and the playoff games become bigger,” said Sansbury.

As the offseason begins, Marottolo wants his players to find a common goal for next season and begin to work at it right now.

“I want the last two years to be a building block for the team. Having the feeling of wishing we could do more is something I don’t want to dissipate. We need our leaders to step up and have the goal of winning the Atlantic hockey championship,” said Marottolo.

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