Last season, the Keene State College men’s hockey team made it all the way to the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) national tournament for the first time in team history. It was a huge accomplishment for the program and Head Coach Bobby Rodrigue. “To come on at the right time and put it all together to win the league tournament, the regional tournament and to go to the national tournament, they’re all big steps for our team,” said Rodrigue.
With each new season comes the daunting task of replacing players who have graduated. Fortunately for Rodrigue, his leading scorer from last year, Andrew Pierce, is going to play a fifth year. “Piercy was our leading scorer last year and was the team captain, and after graduation decided that he was going to come back and complete his masters degree this year.” Having Pierce on the team will be a huge boost for the Owls.
One player that isn’t returning is goaltender Dylan Strogen. Strogen was the starting goalie last season and was a huge part of the team’s success. Alternate captain Jeff Rossman, had very high praise for the former Owl. “Strogen was an outstanding goaltender, I think the defense will have to step up, I think the younger goalies will have to step up and I think as a team we will have to step up” said Rossman. Coach Rodrigue feels like the team is pretty deep at the goal tending position, which is definitely a nice luxury to have.
This season also marks the first time that the owls have a bona fide home rink. Last year when the season started, the Owls “home rink” was almost an hour away, but with Keene Ice being fully operational, they now have a genuine home rink.
Captain Kurt Mitchell was definitely excited about having a home rink. “I think it will be great because we have our own home now. We won’t have to borrow someone else’s rink and lug our bags. That’s our home, we have our own locker room and we leave everything in there. I think having our own spot will bring the team closer together and make it easier on everyone.”
The Owls open up their season on October 1st, at the University of Delaware. Their first home game is against the University of New Hampshire on Friday, October 14 at Keene Ice.
Austin Sanidas can be contacted at email@example.com