The bench of the College’s ice hockey team erupted into cheers when junior forward Alex Moskal scored against the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, Oct. 18.
They didn’t need the goal, it was the team’s final and seventh goal to cap off a 7-2 win — but it was certainly the most celebrated.
Scoring his first collegiate goal, the team rallied around Moskal — a player with a clear admiration from his team on and off the ice.
“He makes the team laugh and really lightens the mood more than anyone,” co-captain and senior Salvatore DiBrita said. “He’s stuck with (the team) even when the cards weren’t in his favor. So to see someone who the team genuinely respects pocket a goal, it really brought an ear-to-ear smile to everyone’s face.”
And to top it all off, it was a beautiful goal, with Moskal receiving the puck on the left side and sniping into the low right corner of the net.
Saturday night lent itself to a phenomenal showing from the College’s first offensive line, comprised of DiBrita, senior Tyler Viducic and sophomore Kevin Collins, who collectively racked up a total of eight points throughout the night. DiBrita and Viducic paired two goals each with an assist while Collins scored one and assisted.
The line’s play demonstrated an improved chemistry with more confidence and composure.
“The whole line is just starting to click and get better,” DiBrita said.
While the win gave freshman goalie Mickey Avenoso his second win in his second showing, it was the defense in front of him that stepped up tremendously.
Junior Gary L’Heureux dominated this weekend as a top defenseman, playing the man during one-on-one’s to prevent goals while adding an offensive drive from the point alongside the solid support of freshman Dylan McMurrer.
“Gary has really embraced the role as a top two defensmen,” DiBrita said. “Gary and Dylan as a pair — they’re the kind of pair that if you see them behind you, you just have a lot more confidence. You can be more free and creative with the puck because you have two solid people behind you to keep the puck in the zone.”
On the offensive end of the ice, the consistent goal scoring also displayed a slap shot into the net from freshman forward Nick Paranzine, who assisted junior forward Billy Regan’s goal in the third.
While co-captain and senior Alex D’Alessio found himself out after getting hurt on Friday night, junior center Matt Martin finally found his way back on the ice after a little over a month of being out on injury.
“It’s huge (to have him back),” DiBrita said. “To have someone be as patient with the puck as Matt can is very helpful for the team. He’s probably the most patient person with the puck on the team, and he always seems to have a calmness about him. Having that veteran leadership is definitely going to lead the team.”
It was eight months ago when the Lions ice hockey team won the GNCHC Championship with the help of alumni Scott Rothlisberger and goalie coach Gary Biggs.
However, it was Friday night that reunited the team with them once again — but on opposite sides of the bench this time.
With Biggs taking a head coaching position at Seton Hall University and Rothlisberger jumping on board as an assistant coach, the Lions took on two former teammates in an intense overtime game.
The Lions led the Pirates 3-0 in the first period with goals from forwards Craig Ismaili, an unassisted snipe from freshman forward Nick Paranzine and senior co-captain Alex D’Alessio sneaking the puck through the opposing goalie’s legs — benching him after the first period.
But it was a second-period letdown that gave Seton Hall the opportunity to leave the College’s home rink with a 5-5 tie, tying the game up with 17 seconds left in the game on 6 on 5 play after the Pirates pulled their goalie.
Collins added the latter two goals for the Lions while co-captain and senior goalie David Laub made several strings of saves throughout the night.
And while Friday’s game didn’t go the team’s way, it was that vengeful, Saturday-night drive that brought them back with a dominating win.
“We started the same way we did against Seton Hall, but I think the difference was (that) we sustained it over the course of the 60 minutes,” DiBrita said. “We just made sure to come out hard and maintain that same pressure.”