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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Club Hockey On The Way To Nationals

    In just their first season as a Division I team in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, the Stony Brook club hockey team is headed to the national tournament. The tournament begins on Saturday, Mar. 1. The Seawolves first opponent is #2 nationally ranked Lindenwood. The top 16 teams in the country are invited to the tournament, which is being held in Rochester this year.

    ‘The team’s ecstatic to get in,’ team General Manager Chris Garofalo said. ‘We’re going in as the #15 seed, we’re playing Lindenwood, a very good team. We’re gonna have to put some systems in place to try to slow them down, and play more of a defensive game, and create opportunities off their mistakes.’

    Before heading off to Rochester, the teams took part in their conference playoffs. After this weekend they travel to Penn State next Friday night to play the #3 nationally ranked Icers. ‘The next five games, if we get that far, are gonna be huge for us,’ Garofalo said.

    ‘We’re going to work hard for these next two weeks in playoffs and against number two seed Penn State,’ junior forward Angelo Serse said about the games before nationals.

    The race to Rochester came down to the very last day for the Seawolves. Although they were voted #16 in the last two coaches poll, Robert Morris was poised to be the final team in the tournament by virtue of winning their conference, even though they were only ranked #18. But Eastern Michigan decided against attending the tournament, allowing Stony Brook to enter as the #15 seed.

    ‘We benefited from it, now we just gotta step up to the plate,’ Garofalo said about the Eastern Michigan decision.

    Although Garofalo was happy his team got in, he was left a little puzzled by the voting process. ‘All the teams we played this year ranked us #13,’ he said. ‘Teams we didn’t play didn’t rank us high because we’re unknown, we’re the new kids on the block. We should have been voted in, it shouldn’t have gotten down to that. We beat #14 West Virginia 3-0.’ He also said if comparing the strength of schedules, ‘they should not have been ranked above us.’

    Being the unknown and new kids on the block is not without it’s benefits. ‘The best part about it,’ Garofalo said, ‘is we have nothing to lose. The pressure’s all on them. Lindenwood is expected to beat us. Our guys will be loose and relaxed.’

    Garofalo said the team really wants to make a statement before they get to Rochester. ‘When we go play Penn State next Friday, it’s not a gimme game, it means something to the program, it means something to recruiting, it means something to all the critics out there who are saying ‘You guys don’t deserve to go to Nationals.”

    The only significant injury the team suffered down the stretch was to freshman forward Kevin Wong, who blew out his shoulder and is done for the season. His twin brother John, who had a similar but less severe shoulder injury, returned to the lineup Saturday against Lehigh. ‘We’re gonna try and use his limitedly, based on how the games go, let his shoulder heal up a little bit more, but he’s ready to go,’ Garofalo said about the injury.

    Once Mar. 1 rolls around, debates about rankings and worries about being a little banged up are all thrown out the window. ‘We have to prove ourselves, we got in, now we have to make a statement while we’re there,’ Garofalo said.

    Serse is confident that if the team plays up to it’s potential they could go a long way. ‘Hopefully we play how we know and knock out Lindenwood in our first game,’ he said.

    The puck drops against Lindenwood at 5:00 p.m., and Garofalo believes his team will be ready for the challenge. ‘We have to prove ourselves, we got in, now we have to make a statement while we’re there.

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