Sports

Monmouth’s Club Hockey Team in Midst of Season

M Hockey 01.31.18The Monmouth University ice hockey team is currently in the midst of their season, posting an overall record of 2-15-1-3 (W-L-T-OTL) and a conference record of 2-8-1-3. The team is part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), which is made up of about 300 schools and is currently in their third season as a member of the Colonial States College Hockey Conference (CSCHC). Some of their opponents within the conference include Princeton University, Seton Hall University, and The College of New Jersey.

The ice hockey team is a club team that is not affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The few schools around the country that are Division I and Division III that are affiliated with the NCAA for hockey are able to provide ice skating rinks to play in that are located on their own campuses. Monmouth University does not have an ice skating rink on campus and is not eligible to host an NCAA hockey game; however, there is a passion for hockey within the school that fuels the need for a club team.

The Hawks are led behind the bench by Head Coach Gregg Amato, who is in his sixth season of involvement with the team. Before Amato’s time, the team was in Division III of the ACHA and they are now in Division II. The club has also seen improvement through their move into the CSCHC from the Mid Atlantic Collegiate Hockey League (MACHL) prior to the 2015-2016 season. The move was made in order for the Hawks to become more competitive by facing schools that are similar in size and compete level.

“I’m happy with the progression of our guys,” Amato said. “We’re trying to win a conference championship against the New Jersey teams.” Despite posting a losing record through most of this season, it is evident the club has seen improvement during Amato’s time.

One of the team’s leaders is graduate student Anthony DeFede who is the current captain and is in his fourth season with the club. As team captain, DeFede noted the chemistry of the group. “We’re a very close team, we start practicing in August and the season doesn’t start until September, so we have all that time together beforehand.”

The team’s effort to create a good atmosphere in the locker room continues during the season. “We’re with each other five, six times a week, so we’re a very close group,” said DeFede. The Staten Island native has tallied eight goals and six assists so far this season, leading the team in scoring.

In terms of the Hawks’ current season, they sit last in the CSCHC. As of Jan. 22, they are 18 points behind the University of Scranton, who are in first place in the conference. While the Hawks’ record shows they have struggled throughout the season, Amato has noted that it is a year of transition and he is looking for guys to step up.

“Like every team every year, you’re going to graduate a handful of guys, and you just have to adjust,” Amato said. [In particular he noted the play of three freshman defenseman: Chris Falzone, Jack Morris, and Brandon Rymarzow.] They have all taken on big minutes in their first season and will be looked upon as anchors on the back end for the duration of their time on the team. While there is some “new blood” on the team, Amato is still confident in the group’s ability to compete every game. “We have some high skill, high talent guys still in the dressing room, so they’re stepping up now,” he said.

The Hawks’ next game will finish their season with three home games. During that three game stretch they will be facing Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and The College of New Jersey.

PHOTO COURTESY of Andy Studna