Marist Men’s Ice Hockey Takes on SECHL Playoffs
Marist (11-13-1) Men’s Ice Hockey team had a weekend full of surprises as they took on two major competitors at the Super East Collegiate Hockey League (SECHL) playoffs. The games, which took place on Feb. 22 and 23 at Floyd Hall Arena at Montclair State University in New Jersey, were full of memorable moments for both the Red Foxes and their fans alike.
The Red Foxes played their first game against the Sacred Heart University (SHU) Pioneers (8-13-3) on Friday evening. The stakes were high; if the Red Foxes emerged victorious against the Pioneers, they would advance onto the next round of playoffs. If they fell short, however, their season would come to an end and the team would be eliminated.
Marist struck first when senior captain Conor Flynn scored with the help of fellow senior Justin Genga, making the score 1-0 Marist. Shortly after, Flynn scored yet again,with assists from Harry Bahrenburg and Justin Genga. Dan Roberts also scored off an assist from Flynn, making the score 3-0 Marist at the end of the first period.
The second period unfolded differently than the first. The Red Foxes were able to hold onto their lead until the Pioneers struck back, making the score 3-1 Marist. A few minutes after their initial goal, the Pioneers scored again, cutting Marist’s lead to just one goal.
Sacred Heart scored again early during the final period. The score was tied 3-3, until the Pioneers scored and Conor Flynn struck back and scored his third goal of the weekend, saving Marist from elimination and pushing the game into overtime.
“My favorite moment easily was the play of Conor Flynn,” said Montclair broadcaster and Marist alum Rob DeLuca. “He was severely injured and fought through all season long. He had five points all weekend including four goals. Three against Sacred Heart. He showed incredible leadership out there.”
Scoring in overtime and securing the win proved to be difficult for both teams. Finally, after three periods of intense overtime hockey, junior captain Garrett Mast scored a goal, making the Red Foxes the winners. The final score was 5-4 Marist.
“It happened so quick,” Mast said. “I just remember shooting it low and it going in. My co-captain Conor Flynn was right next to me screaming and tackled me into the glass. I was just so excited because it meant that I got to play with the seniors for another game.”
DeLuca was particularly excited to call this goal. “What made this game so unique is that this is potentially one of the only triple overtime games in Marist hockey history,” he said. “And being an alumni getting to call that game was really special to me. Especially Garrett’s game winner. What a play!”
Marist ice hockey coach Michael Beck was proud of the team for its success against Sacred Heart.
“Going through a full game and then three overtimes shows that we will not quit, no matter how tired we are,” Beck said. “Winning in overtime was a great feeling, but it also meant that we got to play with our seniors again. They have put so much time and effort over the last four years, our team and myself personally thank them for that and the memories made.”
The Red Foxes returned to Montclair on Saturday to compete against the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (17-3-3) in hopes of advancing to the final round of the SECHL playoffs.
Conor Flynn scored handily in the first period, giving Marist a 1-0 lead over the Wildcats. The Wildcats managed to score two goals in the first, and they entered the second period with a 2-1 lead.
Marist struck back in the second period when Brendan Buckley scored off of assists from Justin Genga and Matt Roberts, tying the score at 2-2.
The score remained the same for most of the third quarter until UNH scored once again, taking a 3-2 lead over Marist. Despite a truly incredible effort by the Red Foxes, Marist was unable to able to score another goal. The third period ended with a score of 3-2 as UNH eliminated the Red Foxes.
Despite their elimination, the Red Foxes considered this weekend to be a tremendous success. DeLuca was thoroughly impressed by the team’s performance.
“Marist played some of their best hockey I ever saw the entire weekend,” he said. “Goaltender Zach Rogers especially. Talk about standing on your head! He reminded me of [former Marist hockey goaltender] Justin Larkin out there. They were outstanding against both teams.”
Playoffs season is a special one for the players and the program in its entirety, and this was clear to Mast.
“I think my favorite thing about the playoffs is the competitive edge we bring as a team,” said Mast. “Everyone wants to be there and compete, and to also showcase our skills. We want to be the best in our league and wanting to be number one allows everyone to flip a switch and compete together.”
Beck echoed these sentiments. “Anytime you have the chance of playing in the league playoffs and competing it is an honor,” he said. “My favorite aspect is the rivalry that builds over the years.”
These playoffs mark the end of the 2018-19 season for the Red Foxes, but Coach Beck is optimistic about next year.
“I was very impressed with the team’s resilience Friday and they followed that up with an even better effort Saturday but unfortunately we came up just a little short of the win,” Beck said. “It is never a good feeling when the season ends. However, this past weekend has shown how much potential for success our team has for next season.”
BY MADISON ZOEY VETTORINO for MARIST CIRCLE