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.”