This weekend, the Stevens club ice hockey team will compete in the Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference (MCHC) playoffs for the first time in the program’s history.
“We’re thrilled to be here and hope to play competitively and come out on top,” said Head Coach Dillon Wu, assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Stevens Athletics Department.
The Ducks are 12-8 overall this year and 11-5 in the MCHC, earning them the fourth seed in the playoffs. On Saturday at 4 p.m., they will face the top-seeded County College of Morris (CCM) in the semifinals at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. for a chance to advance to the championship game on Sunday at 5 p.m. against the winner of the other semifinal, which pits SUNY Maritime College against Fordham University.
“We are definitely the underdogs, but that only gives us more motivation,” said sophomore co-captain Brandon Hartt.
The Ducks are seeking revenge for a lopsided defeat by CCM last season. They also lost big to CCM in the regular season this year, by a score of 10-3, but were missing their two leading scorers due to illness.
“The added depth will certainly help us, but we need a little more from everybody to get a win,” Wu said.
The team’s road to the playoffs was as exciting as it gets. Fighting for the last playoff spot, the Ducks defeated Hofstra University twice on back-to-back weekends, winning both games by a single goal. In the first, they won 4-3 in regulation, but the second game went to a shootout, with Stevens winning 7-6.
The heroes of the game were freshman Max Deluca, who scored four goals and another shootout goal, junior co-captain Kevin McMahon, who notched the shootout game-winner, and senior goalkeeper Kamil Szorc, who had more than 30 saves in the game and stopped two of Hoftra’s four shootout attempts.
The 2011-2012 season, which began in October, is the Ducks’ most successful to date. In prior years, they comprised a 14-28 record overall, including a 5-11 finish just last year.
This season, the Ducks jumped out to a quick start and have continued the momentum through their playoff qualification run. Wu credits the team’s success with addition of a few quality freshman, players buying wholeheartedly into his system, and the players making a bigger commitment to the team.
Offensively, the Ducks are led by Hartt, who has amassed 56 points on 30 goals and 26 assists. Deluca and senior Jerry Riccardello are the team’s second- and third-leading scorers.
McMahon anchors the defense, with senior Rob Kochan, freshman Matt Sheehan and freshman Jess Arnold providing valuable minutes.
The team is providing a fan bus to Saturday’s semifinal. For more information, email [email protected].