Though the National Hockey League lockout continues to keep hockey fans waiting for the season to begin, hockey season has already arrived at SVC. The Polar Bearcats have started the season strong, with wins in two of their first three games of the season.
The Polar Bearcats won 2-1 against George Mason University on Friday, September 28. On Saturday, September 29, the team lost 1-4 against Indiana University of Pennsylvania. However, after this loss, the team came back on Friday, October 5, and won their next game 6-5, against Fredonia State.
Last year, the Polar Bearcats had a good run, making it as far as the second round of the College Hockey East regional playoffs before losing to California University of Pennsylvania. This year, the team intends to make it to regional playoffs again and hopes to beat California University, the current regional champions.
According to senior right wing Tim Smith, “Regional playoffs and the national tournament are a big thing, and we obviously try to beat Cal U every year—because they are the best in the CHE, and they won nationals in 2006.”
Although the team aims to beat California University, they are not the team’s only competition. Smith explained that the team does not really have one specific rival, but rather “every single game is just as physical and has the potential to be just as intense. When you start playing a game, you just want to beat that team, and you don’t really have one team that you hate more than the others. You just want to beat everyone.”
In help them in accomplishing this lofty goal of beating every team, the Polar Bearcats boast several strengths working in their favor this year. According to sophomore goaltender Michael Coyne, this year’s group of players has “team chemistry at an all-time high. Everyone likes each other, and we’ve got a good group of players who all get along and play well together.”
In addition to the group’s chemistry, the team has a balance of offensive and defensive players this year. “We’ve got a lot of fire power and a good hustle, as well as solid goaltending,” said Smith, noting that this mixture of players makes for a strong team. The team’s discipline is another strong point that will aid in their success this year. Senior defenseman Jake Hendrick said that “this year, our goal is play a more consistent style of hockey and to support our teammates on and off the ice.”
The only weakness holding back the Polar Bearcats is that there are fewer players on the roster due to seniors graduating and leaving the team. Sophomore forward Jeff Donatelli said that “we have a lack of depth on the roster. We’ve lost a lot of players since last year.” However, even though many players have graduated and left the Polar Bearcats’ roster, Donatelli said that the incoming freshmen on the team are quality players.
The hockey team is “looking forward to a good year,” said sophomore defenseman Adam Golian. “We’re hoping to see some fans at our home games and have a good season.”
Hendrick agreed, saying that “We love when there is student support at our home games. We know that our home ice is a distance away but appreciate the student attendance.”