Suffolk Staying Under the Radar. . .for Now
Last week we focused on the ensuing battle between powerhouses Curry College and UMass-Dartmouth; a game in which UMass won, 3-1, to remain undefeated in conference play. Overlooked so far this season, though, is another team that has yet to see defeat in league play: Suffolk University.
Through 10 games, the Rams have won seven, a total that took them a full season to reach last year. They also boast a 5-0 record in conference play. Fourth year coach Chris Glionna couldnâ€™t be happier with his teamâ€™s play so far:
â€œWeâ€™re really excited about the start. Itâ€™s good these kids are getting positive results, they did a lot of hard work last spring and summer, and itâ€™s good to see the results.â€
One of the keys so far has been the play of goalie Jeff Rose, and Glionna is quick to point that out.
â€œHeâ€™s really stabilized the position for us,â€ Glionna noted. â€œWe didnâ€™t know what we had when we recruited him, since heâ€™s only a freshman.â€
Rose, who played for the Valley Jr. Warriors in the Eastern Junior hockey League last year, has appeared in all 10 games so far, with a record of 7-2. His GAA is a stingy 2.73, which is the fifth best in the conference, and his save percentage is .905, ninth overall.
Up front, Suffolk has been getting outstanding play from the tandem of senior Dan Pencinger and junior John Rocchio. Pencinger leads the team in scoring, with 10 goals in as many games, along with eight assists. Rocchio has four goals and 10 assists in that span.
Rocchio has led the team in scoring in each of the last two years, but heâ€™ll be facing competition this year not only from Pencinger, but also from senior forward Tim Dancey and junior forward Kyle Cook. Both have scored eight goals so far, and have proven to be effective on the power play. They are both ranked number three and four, respectively, in team scoring and give Suffolk great depth offensively.
On defense, the core group has returned, according to Glionna: â€œFor the most part, all of the guys from last year are back. Last year they really learned while they were on the job.â€
One blueliner making an impression on his coach is Nick Davis.
â€œHeâ€™s done a tremendous job,â€ Glionna said of the sophomore. â€œHe logs huge minutes, both on the penalty kill and on the power play.â€
Davis can also rush the puck, as his seven points and two game winning goals attest.
Another defenseman Glionna is happy with is junior Mitch Sabo.
â€œHeâ€™s plays both ends, on the power play and on the penalty kill, and heâ€™s probably one of the better offensive defensemen in the league.â€
The native of Bell Canyon, CA, also can dish the puck, and currently has six assists.
In looking ahead, Glionna only has to look as far as this Saturday, December 8, when the Rams will host the University of Southern Maine, currently tenth in the country.
â€œThis will be a big game for us. Last year, we began our turnaround when we went up there and beat them.â€
Last year, though, the Rams were listless through the first semester, gaining only two wins before the Christmas break, the second being a 3-2 win over USM in Maine. This year, Suffolk has an overall record of 7-3, and is off to one of their best starts in recent memory.
They have already matched their win total from last year, and their currently amidst their second three games winning streak. Their opponent is also off to a good start as Jeff Beaneyâ€™s squad is also unbeaten so far this year, sporting a 5-0-1 record.
The game versus USM will be the Rams last tilt until after Christmas, when they will play in the Codfish Bowl on December 27 and 28. The team may enter that tournament with a slightly different look, though.
Returning to the line-up should be Joe Drago, a top four defensemen last year who has been out with a knee injury. Glionna knows Drago can provide more depth to an already deep team. Also expected to join the squad will be center Paul Scola, a transfer from Merrimack College via the former Foxboro Stars of the EJHL.
There should also be a familiar face returning to the ice as well, with the imminent return of Alex Olson, a junior who could easily step in and center the first line. Last year, Olson averaged well over a point per game.
Around the Boards
Glionna and Suffolk will host a Toys for Tots drive this Saturday (12/8) evening at the Walter Brown Arena. Following the end of the first period, fans are asked to bring their wrapped presents down to the Suffolk bench, where some of Santaâ€™s wingers will be there to gather themâ€¦. Four of the top ten scorers in the ECAC NE hail from Suffolk: Dan Pencinger and Tim Dancey (1-2) plus Kyle Cook (4) and John Rocchio (6). No other team has more than two representatives in the top ten.
Hot and Cold
The hottest offense belongs to Southern New Hampshire University, with an average of 5.29 goals per game. At the opposite end of the spectrum is New England College, averaging just 1.40 per game so farâ€¦. SNHU remains unbeaten in D-III play so far, sporting a 4-0-1 recordâ€¦. Deadliest power play so far belongs to Franklin Pierce, connecting on 40% of their chances; the Ravens have four players averaging at least a point-per-game on the man advantage.