By Julie Kayzerman
With a brand new coaching staff on the bench and an influx of new players filling the voids of recent graduates, the College’s ice hockey team dominated the University of Pennsylvania, 8-3, in the season opener at Louck’s Ice Center on Saturday, Sept. 19.
It wasn’t their cleanest win, but after a month of preparation for the season under new head coach Andrew Ducko, the Lions proved to have greater team chemistry than last season, with added depth on defense and determined rookies on offense.
But for the first line of forwards, seniors Salvatore DiBrita and Tyler Viducic and junior Kevin Collins, they picked up right where they left off.
“We just click. We know where we’re going to be,” said DiBrita, a second year captain. “You don’t think, you just do.”
And that’s exactly what DiBrita did when he set the tone of the game, putting the College up on the scoreboard for the first time at 13:34 off an assist from Viducic. DiBrita followed up with an assist on sophomore Nick Paranzine’s goal to put the College up, 2-0 in the first.
The first line racked up points with Collins scoring a hat trick, including a shorthanded snipe into the top right pocket of the net in the second period off a pass from DiBrita, who totaled three assists in the night.
New to a Lions jersey were noticeable freshmen forwards Mike Lisciandro and Will Dimock and defenseman Matt Liebers.
“It’s really fun to watch them play,” DiBrita said of the rookies. “They’re young, they’re energetic and they still have that eagerness.”
Dimock and Lisciandro each scored their first college goal in the matchup, with Dimock hitting the top right corner of the net at 6:52 in the second period off a pass from Lisciandro. Lisciandro finished one of his own early in the third with an unassisted shot, robbing UPenn’s goalie to the right side to put the College up, 5-2.
The Lions showed greater depth on defense with senior captain Matt Martin playing a smart and patient game alongside freshman Liebers.
“He’s a talented, smart-moving guy,” Martin said of his new defensive partner. “We complement each other really well.”
Senior Steve Czachor paired well with sophomore Dylan McMurrer, as they each held solid in front of returning goalie David Laub. Laub saved 31 shots in the win.
But it was junior forward Nick Mancini who fought for his well-deserved spot on the ice with aggressive play and a workhorse attitude.
“Mancini definitely carved out a role for himself,” DiBrita said. “He’s always the first one at the rink and the last one to leave. He’s definitely a leader who leads by example.”
DiBrita also included McMurrer as a lead-by-example player for the College as a standout defenseman with an offensive mindset. McMurrer nailed in the Lions’ seventh goal with just over a minute left in the game, pushing past the UPenn defenders with composure.
“He has the ability to take it coast to coast, he’s everything an athlete should be,” DiBrita said.
While the College started the season off with success amidst a series of changes from last year, DiBrita credits a large portion of the team’s triumph to returning student manager, Danny Almberg.
Almberg stays behind the scenes, watching the games intently, tweeting out live updates and taking game notes, but according to DiBrita, it makes all the difference.
“A lot of our readiness can be attributed to him,” DiBrita said, explaining that he’s the go-to guy for a rundown of the game and helpful advice in between periods. “We all appreciate him and what he does, I don’t think any of us can do that with as much detail and care.”
The Lions are back on the ice on Friday, Sept. 25, at Princeton University at 7:30 p.m.