By Jack Loennecker
It’s a cliché in hockey: There are players that don’t show up on the scoring sheet but help their teams succeed by “doing the little things.”
For the William Paterson Pioneer, that player is Allen West.
West, a 22-year-old junior finance major from Bellmore, New York, has been playing hockey since he was 3. Fifteen games into the season, West has five points (2 goals, 3 assists), upping his college career total to 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists). Even though West is not one of the top five scorers on the team, he’s one of the most noticeable players on the ice. He plays with speed, energy, and heart.
West has been a crucial part of the Pioneers’ end-of-semester success. The Pioneers finished their schedule this semester with two games at University of New Hampshire, tying the first 3-3 and winning the next 7-4 to bring their record to 11-1-3 and their ranking to No. 1 in the Northeast Region. The team will take a break for the winter until they play again against Wagner Jan. 20 at the Prudential Center in Newark. Leading the team in points is forward D.J. Sabato with 25 points (15 goals, 10 assists), followed by Jim Karp with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) and James Bobb with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists).
West is on the second line of forwards, even though head coach Joe Balance hasn’t made any set line. West describes himself as a grinder whose job is “getting the pucks in deep and going to work, playing the right system and always moving my feet.” It’s easy to tell. Every time West is on the ice, his feet are moving and his forechecking is strong.
Grinders are known more for their checking than their scoring. Grinders are limited in their offensive skill, but they bring value to the team with physicality and forechecking skills, especially along the boards, where they “grind.” Grinders will often lead the team in hits and are known for playing with the most heart.
Coach Balance said that West always gives a consistent effort, especially on the penalty kills and forechecking. West said he puts a lot of pressure on himself to keep playing the way he does. “I feel I do play with a lot of responsibilities,” he said. “I have to play hard and make the right decisions.”
Since West grew up on Long Island, he is a New York Islanders fan. His favorite player when he was younger was Jason Blake, who played with the Islanders for six seasons from 2000-2001 to 2006-2007. Although Blake earned a reputation as a grinder, he also had a scorer’s touch, notching 40 goals and 29 assists in his last campaign with the Islanders. Now West looks up to the Islanders’ captain, John Tavares, widely considered one of the best offensive players in the game.
With five SECHL championships and some appearances in the ACHA National Championship Tournament, the Pioneers don’t show any signs of stopping. West predicted the team will win another SECHL championship this year and earn an appearance in the ACHA national tournament.