The Suffolk Men’s hockey team opened up its season this past weekend with a couple of exhibition games in the Dunkin Donuts Tournament at Becker College. The men’s team prepares for another long, grueling season after finishing last year with a 7-15-2 overall record.
The men did qualify for postseason play, but were ultimately eliminated in the semi-finals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference playoffs by Wentworth Institute of Technology. Although the team lost some of its key senior leaders from last season, they have some good young players coming in to help complement a core group of veteran players on offense and defense. They also have a strong young goaltender in sophomore Jeff Rose, who played well between the pipes last year as a freshman. The Ram’s lost the first game of the tournament to Nichols College in a hard-fought, 4-1 decision. The team fell behind early as the Bison scored a mere 46 seconds into the game.
The men could not ripple the mesh until junior defensemen Nick Davis got them on the board with a power play goal late in the second period. The aforementioned Rose recorded 29 saves for the Ram’s.
After the game, the coach did not seem like a guy worried about where his team will go from here. Explained head coach Chris Gliona, who is entering his fourth season with the team, “We have high expectations, last year we had one of the most successful seasons in the history of the university. We probably had a few opportunities to reach the finals in the conference playoffs, and we are very much hoping to build off of that.”
The men also went on to lose the second game of the tournament, another tough match up, this time against Becker College. In the consolation game, the men found themselves down by three goals in the opening minutes of the third period, when senior forward Kyle Cook found the back of the net, scoring to make it a 3-1 contest.
Unfortunately the men could not generate any more offense and lost by that same score. Junior goaltender Bill Gilbert also recorded 24 saves in the loss.
Even with the two tough defeats this weekend to commence the season, Gliona believes his team is only going to continue to improve. “We did lose both games this weekend, and there were positives and negatives. Friday night we played one of the favorites to win the league, and we let up a goal in the first minute and goal with one second to play, but in those 58 minutes in between we pretty much competed with them right up and down the ice.”
In the second game he felt the effort wasn’t quite there with the consolation game being played the day after their first loss to Nichols. Speaking on the affects of that first loss in the second game, Gliona said, “It showed in the first period, we dug ourselves a hole and really were not able to get back out of it. The last period I felt like we really dominated the game, and hopefully that effort will carry over to the next game.”
Speaking on the weekend and the upcoming season for the team, athletic director Jim Nelson seemed confident in the makeup of this year’s squad. “We remain optimistic about the upcoming season, and certainly there was some disappointment with the results of the weekend,” said the AD. “Coach Gliona believes Nichols may be the strongest team in the league, and in his reviewing of the game films, he saw that we had more scoring opportunities than he thought while the game was in progress.”
On the growth and development of the team in the coming weeks, he concluded, “We did similarly last year get off to a slow start, and then picked it up in the second semester. We hope that we don’t have to wait quite as long to pick it up.”