As the one convention taking part in for a championship within the east, the UCHC has labored by way of all of the challenges of taking part in a hockey season throughout a pandemic. Changes on many scales have been made and because the season winds all the way down to the playoffs starting this week, the Stevenson Mustangs are a critical contender that hopes the title will be gained the place it belongs – on the ice.
“It was been a loopy season,” stated head coach Dominick Dawes. “Now we have a extremely younger squad that has been dedicated from the autumn to play and develop as a staff. As coaches, I believe throughout the league all of us get it and reside the challenges day by day. After ending our one remaining common season recreation this weekend towards Nazareth, we’re locked into the highest two spots with Utica. Eight groups will probably be within the playoffs with consideration to journey restrictions earlier than we department out slightly wider for the semifinals and remaining. The quarterfinals will probably be subsequent Wednesday with the semifinals on Saturday and the championship recreation on the Monday after Easter. With every part our staff is thru we’re targeted on the title and all of us hope we are able to end this the correct manner on the ice.”
Following the sport with Nazareth, a 6-3 win, Stevenson is 10-2-1 total and 7-1-1 in UCHC play giving them 22 factors and an .833-win share within the league. Some would possibly discover the sturdy outcomes a bit stunning contemplating the make-up of the roster which boasts 15 freshmen skating usually and three of them amongst the staff leaders in objectives and factors.
“They have been good gamers earlier than they bought right here to Stevenson,” stated Dawes. “Now we have given them the chance to play and to make errors as a part of their growth. They’ve matured fairly a bit due to being put in all types of various conditions. It’s nice to see the expansion and the outcomes come collectively for what remains to be a younger program right here.”
Among the many excellent newcomers are forwards Mac Lowry and Eric Olson together with defenseman Blake Colman. Lowry leads the Mustangs in objectives with 9 whereas Colman leads the defensive group with 12 factors in 12 video games performed.
“These three have adjusted effectively to the faculty recreation thus far,” acknowledged Dawes. “Our staff continues to mature, and our six seniors have helped that progress. The staff actually has come collectively effectively by way of the entire challenges and luxuriate in their time collectively whether or not practising or taking part in the video games.”
One other consider Stevenson’s success is the emergence of Ryan Kenny in objective. The sophomore has been stable in objective this season with an 9-1-1 document, .924 save-percentage and a 2.08 goals-against common. Kenny’s rock-solid play has garnered the eye of his teammates and boosted the arrogance of a staff hungry for a title.
“Ryan was thrown proper into it final season as a freshman,” famous Dawes. “He has come on this season dialed-in and 100% targeted. He’s normally the primary child on the ice engaged on issues and I imagine the autumn expertise classes have been actually useful for him in preparation for the season. There’s full confidence in Ryan within the locker room and the staff believes he provides us an opportunity to win each recreation.”
The ultimate days of the sprint-like season are right here on the finish of March and the willpower of playoff opponents and venues coming after the common season concludes with or with out make-up video games misplaced to COVID protocols. By April 5, the 2020-2021 UCHC males’s ice hockey champion will probably be topped.
“We haven’t modified our objectives aside from not having a nationwide event,” stated Dawes. “We all the time compete for 2 championships – the MAC and the UCHC. We predict we’ve wrapped up the MAC title which is our athletic convention with another groups that taking part in the UCHC, and we’re targeted on successful the second championship. It might be an enormous step ahead for this nonetheless younger program. Now we have been versatile by necessity in adapting to schedules and circumstances many instances exterior our management. The administration and athletic departments throughout the league have discovered a method to allow us to play and be secure. Now the very best ending attainable could be for a champion to be selected the ice within the subsequent week. Hopefully we earn that chance.”
The title journey begins Wednesday afternoon when Stevenson hosts Neumann.