By: Jack Loennecker – Layout Editor
The William Paterson University ice hockey team’s season came to an end on March 17 in the ACHA Tournament. The Pioneers went 2-1 in their pool after victories against Ohio University and University of Nevada Las Vegas but couldn’t pick up the final victory needed to advance against Grand Valley State University. Though the Pioneers season came to an end they still had a great year full of positives.
“We played well, some of our best hockey this year,” said Pioneers leading scorer and alternate captain DJ Sabato, “We need to continue stressing the importance of the little things. The small details, getting pucks deep, winning draws, finishing checks and backchecking is what wins games at nationals. It doesn’t matter how many regular season games we win, we need to play every shift like it’s our last in the playoffs to be successful. I think we are going to be really strong next year after this experience at nationals.”
The Pioneers consistently lit the lamp in their first game on March 15 against Ohio University. William Paterson beat the Bobcats 6-3.
Scoring for the Pioneers were Shawn LaCorte, Ryan Ertmann with two, Tyler Steimel, Jim Karp and Scott Huber. Picking up the win in net was Gary Schoeppler who stopped 22 shots.
The next day the Pioneers faced some adversity. In the way of the Pioneers was red-hot UNLV goalie Erik Eidissen who kept the Rebels in the game despite the Pioneers firing shots from all cylinders, 48 in total.
Cory Sala did get the Pioneers a 1-0 lead in the second period but the Rebels tied the game with a minute left. This game seemed destined for overtime until late in the third period when Sabato deflected a LaCorte shot into the net and then Tommy Bauer added another goal for insurance. Jordan Hulahan held UNLV to only one goal on 25 shots as the Pioneers topped the Rebels 3-1.
The Pioneers needed one more victory to advance to the semifinals. In their way was the other 2-0 team in their pool: Grand Valley State University.
The third game was a heartbreaker. Despite Schoeppler stopping 32 shots and the Pioneers taking the lead two times on goals from Sabato and James Bobb, the Grand Valley Lakers would eventually get a two goal lead the Pioneers could not recover from. Ed Coxe was able to bring the Pioneers within one goal but they fell to the Lakers 4-3.
With the Pioneers season coming to an end they’ll also be losing some familiar faces to graduation. William Paterson’s loss to Grand Valley was the final game for seniors’ Bobb, Coxe, Brett Brophy, William “Woody” Kapp and Gary Schoeppler. Another senior, Steve McDermitt, was a healthy scratch throughout the tournament.
“I am proud to have competed with such a great group of guys,” said Coxe, “It’s upsetting that my career has come to an end and we definitely didn’t get the result we wanted but I wouldn’t have traded this season for anything. I wish my teammates luck in the seasons to come. I’m very proud of my team which makes me very sad that I can no longer play hockey with them.”
The Pioneers will be back in action in the fall. A schedule for the 2017-2018 season is expected to be released in April.