John Rolli hopes this week’s stretch of games doesn’t kill the Massachusetts-Dartmouth hockey team. While Rolli, the Corsairs’ 28th-year coach, didn’t say as much, if the Corsairs survive this stretch, it’s safe to say they might be a little bit stronger as a team.
“We’re just trying to survive this week,” Rolli said, prior to Massachusetts-Dartmouth’s 3-1 loss Tuesday at Salem State.
In a perfect world, Rolli wishes the Corsairs wouldn’t have a week like this — Tuesday at Salem State, Thursday at Westfield State, and Saturday at home against Fitchburg State — but now that the Corsairs (9-4-1, 5-2-1 MASCAC) are entering the heart of their MASCAC schedule, Rolli considered what has helped define the Corsairs this season: one, the leadership of his seniors, and two, the team’s ability to overcome adversity, which, this year, has come in the form of a rash of injuries.
The Corsairs’ seven-player senior class includes forwards Rob Dudley and Mike Owens and defensemen Justin Pye and Mike Grzelcyk, and Rolli said that Owens, a south Boston native who leads the MASCAC in scoring (12 goals, 10 assists), is the leader of a group that Rolli characterizes as “the ultimate lunch-bucket, hard-hat group.”
“Mike is very vocal, and he’s very supportive,” Rolli said. “His play speaks for his leadership role.”
Rolli said of the senior class, “They’ve been the keys to our season, up to this point. But we’ve got a well-balanced team overall.”
Tuesday’s loss at Salem State ended the Corsairs’ four-game winning streak and while the Corsairs enter Thursday tied for second place in the MASCAC with Salem State, they’ve also faced some challenges in their first 14 games.
Notably, the Corsairs haven’t been immune to poor health. Massachusetts-Dartmouth has lost four players to injuries, including defenseman Zach Hepler.
“We’ve played with a thin and inexperienced lineup at times, including a pair of players who have never been on the roster before,” Rolli said, referring to junior defensemen Matt Correia and James Neal, local products from New Bedford, Mass., and Holliston, Mass. “With the way Division III college hockey is today, you don’t get a high school product who cracks the lineup right away after his senior year of high school.”
Still, the Corsairs are 11th in the nation in scoring (4.14 goals a game) and second in the nation on the power play (18-for-56, 32.1 percent), behind Castleton (26-for-72, 36.1 percent).
But again, Rolli reiterates the notion that his team faces a challenging stretch of hockey.
“This,” he said, “is the middle of a brutal week.”
Numbers of note
A few numbers of note from around the ECAC Northeast and MASCAC:
Becker 2, Stonehill 0: Korby Anderson and Richard Kokas scored for the Hawks, who have won three of their last four games.
Number of note: Stonehill put 41 shots on goal and outshot Becker 20-12 in the third period.
Buffalo State 7, Johnson and Wales 5: Jeremiah Ketts scored three goals and two assists for Johnson and Wales in the nonconference loss.
Number of note: Buffalo State and Johnson and Wales combined for eight third-period goals; Buffalo State scored six.
Westfield State 4, Framingham State 1: Adam Baldassarre scored a goal and an assist to help the Owls snap a seven-game losing streak.
Number of note: The Owls allowed 34 shots on goal in the win; a week prior, in a 2-1 loss at Williams, Westfield State allowed 48 shots on goal.