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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Men’s hockey rumbles through regular season, receives royalties for hard work

Men%E2%80%99s+hockey+against+Elmira+College+during+a+previous+home+game.+Photo+by+Dong+Woo+Im+%2F+Mass+Media+Staff.
Dong Woo Im
Men’s hockey against Elmira College during a previous home game. Photo by Dong Woo Im / Mass Media Staff.

UMass Boston’s Men’s Hockey inked another regular season into the books, and through the thick and thin of what played out, the Beacons emphatically entered the spotlight as hopeful contenders for the 2024 New England Hockey Conference tournament. Banking on a victory over Johnson & Wales University for their regular season finale, UMass Boston pulled through at Barry Ice Rink Sunday, Feb. 11, running past the Wildcats with ease and emerging as 5–0 victors, per Beacons Athletics. [1]

The game was the latter of a two day home-and-home series with the Wildcats; the Beacons dropped their previous game in Providence, 5–2. Luckily, the sticks of Jack Mortson and Jakub Teply propelled them out of harm’s way, salvaging them from losing two straight against an NEHC bottom feeder. Beacons Athletics reported that Mortson ripped home a couple goals and evened out his four-point night with two perfect dishes for assists, while Teply served two slices of his own apple pie on a silver platter to go alongside his beauty that found the back of the net. [2] 

Their contributions on the ice were pure examples of the Beacons’ role in practicing a mindful approach in the offensive zone. Outshooting Johnson and Wales 51–34, UMass Boston kept the Wildcats deep in their own territory, and with the help of their opponents’ blunders, they executed their strategy to perfection, putting their scoring on full display with three goals on the man advantage. Moreover, the first period was especially sweet for them, as they scored four of their five goals in the opening frame. [2]

The story of the night wasn’t about their offense, though, but rather their dependability in all four phases of the game. Blueliner Kevin Sadovski blocked a team-high eight shots—an absurd amount for anyone, regardless of their position, and Sam Best once again proved why he’s a top goaltender in the conference with his best 2011 Tim Thomas impression; 34 saves on the night capped off the Beacons’ greatest performance of their now-defunct regular season. And what better time to have the game of their lives? They were slated to take on the three seed in Skidmore College the following Saturday, Feb. 17. Their season finale at the Barry was the most opportune time to give them the ideal preparation for the bloodbath that was soon to come.

The period of wallowing was over for the Beacons, as work still needed to be done. There’s no debate that the Beacons played to their extremes as time went on, but one cannot forget how they got to their position as a sixth-seeded underdog. Prior to their 5–0 thrashing of Johnson and Wales, UMass Boston was outscored 85–58. Against ranked opponents, they were walloped, outscored 40–12. [1] One of those opponents was Skidmore College, who they lost to twice prior to their matchup this past Saturday. 

No matter how tough times got against these hard-nosed teams though, the Beacons always persevered and prevailed. On the record, a serviceable record of 9–14–2 to end the year isn’t all that bad considering their competition consisted of seven games against five of the top-25 NCAA Division III teams in the country—one of which they beat in a 1–0 game of war Jan. 20. Again, even when met with shortcomings, for what it’s worth, it was always first-rate effort from the Beacons and their group of star-studded talents, many of whom were rightfully showered with praise for their marks.

Sadovski headlines the list of UMass Boston’s core, earning all-NEHC second-team honors for his stellar two-way play style, knotting 12 points on five goals, all while being a force in the defensive zone. He also took home NEHC player of the week nods earlier in the year. [3] Best and Mortson are both regarded as top players in their respective positions. Best has solidified himself as a top netminder in UMass Boston history, his eight shutouts is the accolade that stands out most, as it puts him atop the leaderboard all-time. He was subject to multiple awards throughout his 2024 campaign, winning Goalie of the Week three times for his heroic performances in net, oftentimes keeping the Beacons in close games when the offense couldn’t build momentum.

As for Morton, he collected an NEHC Honor Roll award for his career day against the Wildcats, having twice won the Rookie of the Week award prior, according to Beacons Athletics. [4] Best joined him at breakfast by getting honor roll alongside him, making them both the final NEHC honor roll awards of the regular season. The future looks bright for the young stud, and with 2024 being just his first year, there’s room for debate about his potential to become a star in the Beacons’ top six.

The 2023-24 regular season was surely rough one for the Beacons. Their offense seemed a tad shaky at times, going as far as knocking down a ranked Norwich squad and fighting to a 4–4 tie against 11th-ranked Endicott. Other times, taking losses of 6–1, 6–2 and 5–2 on the chin were commonplace. Shots were abundant, and yet somehow, goals were not. They found comforts of home, going 6–5–1 on their own turf, but playing on the road was their kryptonite. 

Overall, the Beacons beat their opponents in many statistical categories—Beacons Athletics reports that shots and faceoff wins are at the forefront of their strong suits—but inconsistencies on offense kept them from taking their leap of faith. [5] Amidst the chaos though, one tidbit stands tall. As Beacons Athletics points out, five of the Beacons’ top-seven point getters of 2024 are first and second year players. [6] If there’s any memo this season sends, it’s that this immense talent pool is only going to rise.

 

[1] 2023-24 Men’s Ice Hockey Schedule – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

[2] Four In the First Along With A Final Best Shutout Ends Season In Fashion For Men’s Hockey – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

[3] Kevin Sadovski, Gianna Skrelja and Leah Bosch Earn 2023-24 NEHC All-Conference Honors – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

[4] Best and Mortson Get NEHC Weekly Nods – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

[5] 2023-24 Men’s Ice Hockey Cumulative Statistics – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

[6] 2023-24 Men’s Ice Hockey Cumulative Statistics – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

About the Contributors
Nick Collins, Sports Editor
Dong Woo Im, Photographer