Category Archives: Club Sports

CCSU Club Hockey End Regular Season Strong

by Nicholas Leahey

After struggling against Eastern Connecticut, the Blue Devils rebounded in a high scoring affair against Bryant over the weekend.

The Central Connecticut Men’s Ice Hockey Club Team closed out the regular season with a doubleheader, including a 5-2 loss to Eastern on Friday, and a 7-6 win over Bryant University on Saturday.

CCSU (9-7-0) started out strong in the first period Friday against Eastern in front of a sizable crowd in attendance, when Dylan Brown made a cross-ice pass to Jack Johnson on a 2-on-2 rush up ice, to beat Eastern goalie Alex Bliesher just 2:35 into the game.

That would be the CCSU’s only goal in the first period, however, with Eastern scoring three unanswered goals within five minutes soon after.

“I think we just got cocky after that first goal, and it blew up in our face,” said CCSU Captain Matthew Lis after the game.

Johnson later scored again on a 2-on-1 rush up ice with Brown at 14:16 of the third period. It wasn’t enough to stop Eastern’s offense though, who solidified their 5-2 victory when forward Christian Keator’s wrist shot beat CCSU goalie Zachary Gosselin high on the glove side late in the third period.

Unofficially, CCSU had 45 shots on goal during the game, while Eastern had 49.

“We just didn’t come ready to play today, and I think it showed,” said Gosselin after the game Friday.

The following night, the Blue Devils came out hard in their last regular season game against Bryant University, holding a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period, and a 5-3 lead after the second period. Despite a Bryant comeback surge in the third period to tie the game 5-5, led by Bryant’s Daniel Congiusta and Garrett Lehan, CCSU’s Frank Pisano and Lis were each able to score, giving the Blue Devils the victory with a final score of 7-6.

CCSU’s Lis, Pisano and Kyle Leyerzapf each scored twice in the game. Lis and Brendon Quirion also had two assists. Unofficially, shots on goal were 56 to 43 in favor of CCSU.

“We didn’t play our best, which I think says a lot about our team when I we say that even though we won,” said Leyerzapf after the game. “Hopefully we can clean things up before the playoffs.”

Despite the loss to Eastern on Friday, ending a five-game winning streak, the Blue Devils are 6-1 in their last seven games, earning themselves a post-season spot as a result.

“We’re going to keep everything the same,” said CCSU Head Coach Joseph Dabkowski. “In post-season games, there is going to be more energy and more emotion, and we’re just going to try to maintain our identity as a team.”

In accordance with the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s (ACHA) post-season competition structure, the Blue Devils will play post-season Super East Conference next week in New Jersey. CCSU’s quest for a national championship however will begin in roughly a week and a half when they will compete in Regional ACHA play. They will play either Friday Feb. 26 or Feb. 27 in Danbury depending on their league ranking.

“We’re just going to practice hard, and stick with each other,” said Leyerzapf. “I think if we stick together, we will do well in the playoffs.”

Sitting Down With The Club Hockey Team

by Nicholas Leahey

When you walk into the locker room of the Central Connecticut Men’s Club Ice Hockey Team (6-6-0), you notice one undeniable fact: it stinks.

Upon closer inspection of the cluttered room, which is filled a mixed smell of men’s deodorant and dirty hockey equipment, you can see ice skates, jerseys, and blue hockey helmets marked “Central” placed neatly in their respective places in each stall.

“We are unlike any other club,” said team captain Matthew Lis. “We put in just as much time and effort as any other sports team.”

The team, which plays their home games at Newington Ice Arena, is a part of the Super East Conference of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). The conference includes other schools such as Siena College, Marist College, New York University, as well as William Paterson University, their self-proclaimed rivals.

“They like to play cheap,” said Club President Patrick Dowd, who plays center forward. “It’s always a good game.”

The team is comprised of players who have all grown up playing the game they love, with some playing since they were five years old. Like all athletes, each player had their own idol growing up.

“I definitely looked up to John Tavares,” said player Brendon Quirion.

Because the entirety of the team is from Connecticut, some players played for rival schools going through middle school and high school, while others played together. Dowd himself played high school hockey with fellow teammates Quirion and Max Maffucci.

Regardless of prior affiliations, however, all players have learned to work and come together as a team. The result has been a strong comradery among the players that can be seen in a number of ways.

“It’s like a brotherhood,” said Quirion. “It is just a different feeling going out there with the guys.”

The ability to function well as a team has played a big role in the team’s performance and lead to their relative success over the past few years. The team made it to nationals during the 2009-2010 season, and has qualified for the regional tournament several times since.

Individual motivations for choosing to play hockey over other sports vary widely, but it is clear that every player is there for the love for the sport — even if they don’t say it straight to you.

“Isn’t it obvious?” said Jack Johnson jokingly. “It’s for the chicks.”

All members of the team take an immense amount of pride in their play, and have challenged themselves in taking on NCAA registered teams, including a game coming up in late February against Post University. They also say they have staked their claim as the “bad boys of the Super East.”

“We play to win,” said Lis.

Winning is what they hope to accomplish in their next game on Saturday Feb. 6th when they take on rivals William Patterson.

Aside from the ability to drink in the stands, the team says their games are always fun to watch.

“Our games can get out of hand sometimes,” said Dowd. “And that’s what the crowd likes.”

Central Ice Hockey Extends Win Streak

by Brian O’Neill

The Central Connecticut club ice hockey team took on Marist on Friday night, in the first game of a home series against the Red Foxes. The Blue Devils swept Marist and, coming off a 1-1 road trip last week, are now at 5-1-0 on the season.

Friday night marked the return to the Newington Ice Arena for the Blue Devils and a return to the high scoring showdowns the team had a week before.

The scoring started with Marist’s Pat Erstling beating Central’s goalkeeper with 6:48 left in the first period. The 1-0 lead lasted for six minutes until CCSU’s Andrew Mazurkiewicz found defenseman Matt Lis for a slap shot to even the score with 21 seconds left in the first.

The second period opened with an interference penalty 20 seconds in on Central, giving the Red Foxes the one-man advantage. Marist used the power play to go up 2-1, 2:36 minutes into the period. Marist struck on the power play again in the ninth minute, putting the Red Foxes up 3-1.

Just one minute later, after Marist picked up an interference penalty, Mazurkiewicz put the puck under Marist’s Justin Larkin’s leg pads to bring the Blue Devils back within 1. Central tied it up with 3:31 left in the second, with Frank Pisano catching a cross-ice pass and shooting top shelf while on a 5-4 power play. At the end of the second period, both teams had scored twice on the power play, making it 3-3 going into the third.

The scoring started seven minutes in and, again, the goal came on the power play when Central’s Kyle Leyerzapf scored on a rebound coming from Jack Johnson’s shot. Leyerzapf would find himself in the goal column again, with seven minutes left in the third — this one coming off a one timer with the first and second assists going to Mazurkiewicz and Pisano, respectively.

Leyerzapf wasn’t the only Blue Devil with a two-goal night. Lis scored Central’s final goal of the game with 4:30 left in regulation, the first even strength goal since the first period. With the score 6-3, and the Devils in the lead, Marist struck with a defection goal with only 3:27 left, bringing the Red Foxes within two.

With Marist building momentum, Central took two minor penalties with 2:07 left in the game, giving the Red Foxes a 5-on-3 power play (six with the goalie pulled) for all of seven seconds of the game.

Despite Marist doubling the amount of Central penalty killers, the Blue Devil defense and goaltending held strong, ceding no ground and closing the game with a 6-4 win. Statistically, penalties were a huge factor. With 38 minutes total (20 from Central and 18 from Marist) the effectiveness of the penalty killers and power play units ultimately decided the game.

“I think we finally started playing in the third period,” said head coach Ben Adams. “We were a little slow, sluggish to start, and we woke up in the third.”

He added: “It’s always interesting playing home and home. Very rare we play home and home and coming into tomorrow, it’s going to have to be a quick turnaround. Even though we were [penalty] killing, we had a lot of guys willing to sell out and block shots and do what it took to win, and that’s going to pay dividends tomorrow.”

The Blue Devils look to extend their two-game win streak this weekend, facing off against UConn on Friday, Oct. 17 and UMass on Saturday, Oct. 18. Both games are at home at the Newington Ice Arena.

Club Ice Hockey Shuts Out UMass, Falls to UConn

by Brian O’Neill

Central Connecticut’s club ice hockey home stand continued this weekend with games against UConn on Friday and UMass on Saturday. The Blue Devils split the two, losing to UConn and beating UMass and putting the team at 6-2-0 on the season.

“The main problem is the first 40 minutes we weren’t ready to play,” head coach Ben Adams said, regarding the 5-2 loss to the Huskies Friday night. “Too many unforced errors, too many mental mistakes, too many breakdowns in our zone, and we just weren’t ready to go tonight.”

The loss to UConn was Central’s first at home this season. The first period was controlled by UConn, with the Huskies spending most of the period on the attack. It wasn’t until two minutes left in the period that UConn broke onto the scoreboard, though.

The second period opened with a surge from Central, resulting in a game-tying goal from Central’s Frank Pisano, off a rebound from Andrew Mazurkiewicz. It wasn’t long before UConn responded with a power play goal coming from a scrum in front of the net. With the goal, UConn took back the lead and the momentum, scoring two goals in the last two minutes of the period, bringing the score to 4-1 at the end of the second.

The third period opened with a spark from Central, but the effort wasn’t enough for the Blue Devils, and even Central’s Matt Lis’ power play goal with 8:32 left to bring the game within two points was countered by UConn with a goal at 6:52 that made the final score 5-2.

“We’ll go back through and analyze as coaches and see if there are any changes that need to be made in the line combos. Any systems changes [needed] and we’ll make some adjustments tomorrow,” said Adam’s after the loss on how he planned to prepare for next night’s game.

Saturday night, when Central faced off against the UMass Minutemen, it showed that whatever changes the coaches decided upon worked well with the Blue Devils winning 5-0. The first goal came from Connor Loree, with the assists going to Ross Burton and Matt Lis. The goal was the first of the season for Loree, who joined the this year.

“I came across the blue line, and the puck squirted back to me, and I fired it as hard as I could, and it went in the back of the net,” Loree said, recounting the goal. He went on to talk about the team: “It’s good to join the guys up here. I had a couple friends, Jack Johnson, good to reunite and skate with him again. [It’s] good to be back up north playing hockey again.”

Defensively, the Minutemen didn’t have an answer for Central’s offense, with the Blue Devils scoring five goals in the game from Connor Loree and two each from Jack Johnson and Matt Lis.

Central’s offensive output was matched by the goalie play of both Zach ‘Goose’ Gosselin and Matt Greenwood, posting a shutout while stopping all 41 shots. Greenwood was subbed for Gosselin when a scrum in front of the net 13 minutes into the third period turned ugly and ended with Gosselin and UMass’ Casey Litwack ejected for fighting.

Then, just three minutes later, roughhousing broke out in front of Central’s net again, resulting in more ejections. In the last seven minutes of the game, eight players total — five from UMass and three from Central — had been ejected as a result of the two fights in front of the net, as well as a separate occurrence in the neutral zone.

“Our guys battled hard and emotions get the best of you whether you’re winning or you’re losing,” said Adams of the ejections. “Most of the scrums happened protecting our goalie, which I’m absolutely fine with. If they came somewhere else they’d be a problem.”

“The best part [of the game] was everyone played together,” Adams added. “It was the first team shutout we’ve had in quite a while. That’s what I liked the most out of this game.”

The Blue Devils resume play on Friday, Oct. 24, traveling to Albany to take on Siena before coming back to Newington Ice Arena on Saturday night to play Western Connecticut.

Club Ice Hockey Demolishes Western

by Brian O’Neill

Coming off a 6-3 win over Siena College in Albany the night before, the Central Connecticut club ice hockey team extended their win streak to three games with a 16-3 blow out victory over Western Connecticut, making their record 7-2-0.

“It’s bittersweet. It’s positive that we were able to keep our offense going,” said head coach Ben Adams. “A game like that is never good on either side. You hate to be on the other side of it, but it’s always nice to have one of those kind of games every once and a while.”

The Blue Devils started the first period on the attack and, for the most part of the next 60 minutes, stayed on it.

Frank Pisano opened the scoring with a goal in the fourth minute, beating the Colonial’s goalie to the high blocker side. Pisano was in on the action again when he assisted Kyle Leyerzapf with nine minutes left in the period. The third goal came just 40 seconds later, when freshman Daniel Purslow’s slap shot found the back of the net. The goal was Purslow’s first of his CCSU career.

With five minutes left in the first, Leyerzapf scored his second of the night on a power play goal. The last Blue Devil to score in the first period was Jack Johnson, whose shot deflected off a Western defender just 45 seconds after the last goal. With 3:25 left in the period, the Colonial’s finally answered, making it a 5-1 at the end of the first.

The scoring slowed in the second, with Western finding twine first seven minutes in. Central answered 7 seconds later, when Leyerzapf scored his third goal of the game. When asked how he felt about his hat trick performance after the game, he responded with one word and a smile: “Great.” The last goal of the period went to the Colonials, scoring with just eight seconds before the second intermission.

“Western has been in our league for a while and they’ve always been a tough opponent, and we didn’t know what we were coming into,’ said Adams. “Coming into the third [period], 6-3 tight game, our guys just woke up.”

The third and final period was an onslaught of Blue Devil offense, with Central scoring 10 goals. At one point, in an unprecedented move, the Colonials starting goalie, who had been pulled in the first period, was subbed back into the game for his replacement.

Central’s third period scorers were highlighted by two Brendon Quirion goals, his first as a Blue Devil. Adam Mink, Andrew Mazurkiewicz, Matt Lis, Connor Lorre, Kevin San Angelo, Max Maffuci, Johnson and Pisano all scored in the third.

Even with the 13 point win, Adams was already looking forward to the next game, stressing the fundamentals and “…making sure that they [the players] are staying focused. We’ve got a big week of practice this week, getting ready for the first weekend of the second ranking period.”

Looking to build on their three game win streak, the Blue Devils hit the road for the next two weekends, playing Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Nov. 1, Montclair State on Nov. 7 and UConn on Nov. 8, before coming back to Newington Ice Arena on Nov. 14 and 15 to take on Boston College and NYU.