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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Men’s Hockey is an Emerging National Title Contender

Courtesy+of+Beacons+Athletics%0A

Courtesy of Beacons Athletics

 

 

It’s been a remarkable year so far for Men’s Hockey. Coach Peter Belisle and his squad, made up of mostly freshmen, are currently ranked 15th in the nation, according to D3Hockey.com, and recently had an unbeaten streak of eight games which started on Nov. 17, with a tie against Skidmore, and included a triumph in the campus-hosted Codfish Bowl.

The guys currently have a sterling record of 14-3-2. They have been an offensive force over the first half of the season, averaging five goals per game behind strong play from a mix of fresh faces and grizzled veterans.

Although the Beacons struggled defensively when the season began, they have improved greatly since coming back from winter break behind the great play of freshman goalie Zach Andrews.

Belisle said that Andrews “lately has been very good, the last weekend before break was his best weekend and he was outstanding in the Codfish Bowl Championship. He’s the reason we won the game.” Andrews shut out a potent Johnson and Wales offense in the third period, allowing the Beacons to hold on and earn their first win in their home tournament in six years.

Any conversation about this year’s club, though, will start with the offense.

The Beacons have scored five or more goals in all but six of their 14 games. According to Belisle, “Mike DeGrazia and Travis Daniel are leading all of Division 3 in scoring. If you had told me at the beginning of the year that Mike DeGrazia would be leading the nation in points per game […] I wouldn’t be shocked but he has far exceeded expectations.”

 When asked what he attributes the recent eight-game unbeaten streak to, Belisle once again heaped praise on Daniel and DeGrazia. He said, “We have these two upperclassmen playing lights out hockey and then you have this group of freshmen who are just superb. We have freshmen centering two of our lines right now and on the second line Kit Sitterley and Peter MacIntyre are playing really good hockey and are in the top ten in the nation in freshmen scoring.”

Belisle had some concerns before the season got underway when it came to his massive freshman class, but that seems like ages ago given the spectacular efforts of the new recruits. He said, “I think this freshman group has really bought into our work ethic.”

Belisle shared some great optimism for the second half of the season.

“I’m looking for continued consistency with scoring, better defense, and great goaltending as we enter the iron of our schedule. With Norwich, Saint Anselm, New England College and some other great ECAC schools coming up, nothing’s going to be easy. With all of the things we’ve been doing, we have to consistently continue to do them.”

When it comes to the postseason, Belisle has high hopes. When asked if thinks the squad has a chance to capture the ECAC East title, he said,  “Definitely, that’s our goal. You have to remember that we have the number one team in the country (Norwich) in our league. If we can get through our league, Jesus we have a hell of a good chance of winning the whole thing. We’ll be battle-tested.”

Belisle added, “When you’re in the best league in the country and you have the best team in the country in your league, it’s a challenge to get to the conference championship, especially when Norwich has six senior forwards, two of whom were all Americans last year.” 

The team is currently ranked 15th in the nation, but Belisle pointed out the fact that every team above them in the rankings has played two more games than the Beacons due to scheduling quirks. This team is for real and they have a great chance to play in the NCAA tournament. Daniel and DeGrazia should be all Americans this year and more than a few Beacons should be named to the ECAC all-freshman team. The guys haven’t come close to hitting their ceiling yet, so it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty good time to be a Beacon right now.