Club ice hockey ready for postseason

Tyger Allen & Brett Johnson, Herald Reporters

Although Roger Williams University just entered the spring semester, winter sports are wrapping up their seasons within the month. The men’s club ice hockey season is beginning to wind down, but after having a successful regular season, the Hawks are expected to go deep in playoffs.

Last season, the Hawks finished 22-6-1 under former Head Coach Edward Silva. The 2016-17 team took home a Northeast Collegiate Hockey Association (NECHA) championship, but fell in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) regional playoffs. This year, under Bernie Sandford, the Hawks have a record of 14-5-1 with fewer games played over the season. The current record keeps the team on course to finish in a similar position.

After opening the season as the victims of an 8-0 blowout against William Paterson University and suffering a 5-4 loss to Siena College, the Hawks rallied back and went on a six-game win streak. During that stretch, they outscored their opponents 30-13. Their winning ways came to a halt with a 6-1 loss to Sacred Heart University, but the Hawks did not let that loss linger. Following that game, the Hawks won eight of their next nine games.

The offense has been strong this season, as it was last season. Prior, the Hawks were worried that they could not fill the scoring gap left by graduated points machine, Ian Mitchell, but they fear no longer as there has been offensive contribution throughout the squad. Eleven Hawks have double-digit points, including junior Jeremy Lawton and freshman Griffin Gagne, who have 32 and 30 points, respectively.

At the other end of the ice, the goalkeepers have had impressive showings. Junior Marc Frederick received the majority of playing time for the Hawks and, as of Jan. 31, sported an 11-3 record. Ranked 20th in ACHA Division II, Frederick has a .937 save percentage and has racked up four shutouts this season. Junior Ryan Shae and freshman Jack LaCasse have played in six games combined.

The Hawks faced off against conference opponent Bridgewater State University on Sunday afternoon In the second period, they held a 2-1 lead, but the Bears came back with two consecutive goals to win 3-2. The Hawks won the first matchup between the teams, but BSU’s most recent win tied the season series.

The Hawks now have one regular season game remaining before they compete in the postseason. According to rankings updated on Jan. 31, the Hawks are ranked first in their NECHA division, one point ahead of Bridgewater State University.

The team will take part in the Rhode Island College tournament on Feb. 3 where they will first face off against the host team. The Hawks have faced Rhode Island College this season and came away with a dominant 13-2 victory on the home ice of the Anchormen. In that game, nine different Hawks scored and Gagne recorded a hat trick. The Anchormen have failed to record a win this season, but will get a chance against a familiar opponent with the Hawks.

The team the Hawks play afterwards depends solely on the outcome of their first game. Last year, the Hawks beat Providence College in a shootout, but lost in the tournament championship to Sacred Heart University by a score of 3-2 in overtime.

The Hawks did not play Providence College this season, but did play Bryant University–who will step in to play in this year’s tournament. The Hawks beat the Bulldogs in their Dec. 1 matchup in a thrilling 6-5 game decided by an overtime goal by Jeremy Lawton.

After the in-state tournament, the Hawks will finish out the season by playing the University of Vermont in an away matchup. The Hawks beat the Catamounts 6-2 last season in their home rink, Driscoll Arena.

The Hawks will then await their schedule for the NECHA tournament and given their current record, they should expect a favorable matchup in the first round.