Rams seek to build on last season’s success

Article By: Alex Mellion

The Suffolk University men’s hockey team started its season with two close losses in the Becker College Ice Breaker tournament. The team fell to Plymouth State by a score of 5-4 on Nov. 6, and then followed that up with a tough 3-2 loss against Becker in the consolation game the next day.

The team is looking to return to the ECAC playoffs again this season, after making it for the second straight year last season, the first time the team has made back to back league playoff appearances since 1992 & 1993.

“We expect to make it back this year,” head coach Chris Gilonna said. “Two years ago we reached the Northeast semifinals, and we hope to at least get back there this year.”

The team may face a bit of an uphill climb however, as their four top scorers from last season have graduated. Those four members of the Class of 2009 combined for 87 points last season (35 goals and 52 assists). However, the Rams do return both senior Niles Moore (3 goals this past weekend against Plymouth State and Becker) and senior Pat Welch, who will both be counted on to shoulder the offensive load for the Rams.

In addition to Moore and Welch, the Rams also have junior goaltender and assistant captain Jeff Rose back between the pipes.

“We expect to have some of the best goaltending in the league this year,” Gilonna said. “Jeff Rose has already proven that he is capable of playing at an All-League level.”

Last season, Rose sported a 3.32 Goals Against Average and a save percentage of .90 in 21 games. Gilonna also noted that freshman goalie Carl Rappa and junior goalie Ryan Mula will push Rose for playing time. The trio should allow the Rams to have some of the deepest goaltending in the ECAC this season.

If there are to be any bumps in the road this season, the Rams’ schedule may be their undoing.

“The team’s biggest Achilles’ heel this season could be our schedule,” said Glionna. “We are playing the toughest schedule in the school’s history. This will be a great challenge for our younger players.”

Despite the tough schedule, the players expect the Rams to improve upon last season and make some serious noise in the ECAC.

“I believe that that we will be better than last year’s team,” stated senior captain Brian Smusz. “The freshmen from last year have a season under their belts and know what it takes to win, while the seniors on our team need to step up and lead by example.”

The number one goal for the team will be to build on last season’s success and advance to the ECAC title game, and maybe even the NCAA Division-III playoffs.

“I feel we have a good group of players that are willing to work hard and compete, and that’s all you can ask for,” said Smusz. “We are excited for the season and believe that we can win our league.”