On Saturday, November 21, the Keene State College men’s ice hockey team put on an absolute clinic against Holy Cross at the Jason Ritchie Ice Arena in Winchendon, Massachusetts.
It only took the Owls 18 seconds to light the lamp and it came off the stick of Josh Bell, as he wired the puck top shelf. The Owls then scored two more goals in the first period off the sticks of Tucker Johnson and Derek Clark. Holy Cross managed to get one past first-year goaltender Jonathan Fields, who was making his first career start.
The Owls put up six more goals in the next two periods combined. Four of them came from senior captain Andrew Pierce who also chipped in with two assists. He finished the day with six points total. The other two goals came from Bell and Kurt Mitchell.
Head Coach Bobby Rodrigue was a very happy man after the game. When asked about the best part of his team’s performance, Rodrigue said, “The team got off to a quicker start than we have recently and that was important.” He also stated that his first-year goaltender “made a bunch of good saves” and that he has been happy not only with him but with all of the goaltenders so far this year. Rodrigue cited a lack of discipline as something his team needs to work on. The win improved KSC’s winning streak to five games.
The end of the game also marked something very significant for the team. It was the last time they would have to play a home game away from Keene. The KSC men’s hockey team has been playing in Winchendon, which is about a half hour away from campus. When asked about the biggest disadvantage about not having a home rink, senior goaltender Dylan Strogen stated that the travel was the biggest obstacle. “Having to travel thirty to forty-five minutes everyday we have practice. That’s three to four hours of our day between getting ready, driving to practice, getting dressed and then actually practicing,” Strogen said.
There has been a collective sense of excitement amongst the team, and when asked about the player’s feedback on the rink, Rodrigue said, “They’re out of control with excitement. They have been asking almost everyday where things stand. They have been volunteering down at the new rink to help set up the mats in the locker rooms and the floor. They’re so anxious to be there.”
The team is really hoping that this new rink will attract a larger crowd, according to captain Andrew Pierce. Pierce commented, “I think we play to a crowd, so I think having a lot of people from the school, since they can walk there, will play to our advantage.”
In addition to all of the benefits to the team as athletes, there are also benefits to the team as students. Rodrigue cited traveling took away not only from the team’s physical training but also from their academics too. He predicts that with the new rink close by, his players will have improved academic performances.
Austin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org