By Julie Kayzerman Editor-in-Chief
Senior forward and captain Salvatore DiBrita will never tell you about his individual accomplishments on the Lions’ ice hockey team. Instead, he’ll talk about the pride he has in his teammates, reluctant to take any personal credit for the team’s success.
So it was only fitting that his teammates were by his side when a simple secondary assist, just like the several others he’s had before, went down in the books, marking his 100th career point as a Lion. The feat was made even sweeter being accomplished on home ice at the Louck’s Ice Center on Friday, Nov. 13. While the point didn’t come from a flashy move and a dramatic goal, it was the perfect 100th point for DiBrita, who prides himself on assists and being a playmaker for his teammates, rather than scoring goals himself.
“He doesn’t care about how many points he has,” said freshman Jason Uibel, the team’s equipment manager. “All he really cares about is this team winning, and that’s a true leader.”
It was senior defenseman and co-captain Matt Martin who sniped the puck into the net during the Lions’ Friday bout against Rider University off an assist from junior forward and co-captain Kevin Collins, who received the puck from DiBrita. As the three captains strung together a beautiful play to put the Lions’ back on the scoreboard, DiBrita skated off the ice with the milestone, overpowering the Lions’ tough loss to the Broncs, 4-2.
“Sal can be described as the ultimate team player,” Collins said. “As our captain, he does countless things for the team that don’t show up on the scoreboard, like blocking shots, laying big hits and setting up screens. For a guy that is not concerned about personal points, but rather team wins, it is very impressive to reach 100.”
With 25 points so far this season, DiBrita is the team’s second leading goalscorer, behind Collins. He leads the team with 17 assists so far this season in only 15 games, just shy of already surpassing his total of 21 assists from last season.
“I’ve been blessed to play with teammates who have a knack for scoring,” DiBrita said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to that mark.”
The Lions jumped out against Rider with the early lead after a Martin wrist shot from the point off of a Collins assist to keep the Lions at 1-0 after the first period.
However, about two minutes into the second, the tides turned as junior forward Will Sulpizio received a five-minute major penalty for boarding, leaving the Lions on an extended penalty kill. The Broncs gained momentum and ran with it, scoring three power play goals during the major penalty — a lead that the Lions were never able to overcome, despite a second goal from Martin later on in the period.
“Going into the game versus Rider we knew it would be a battle,” Collins said. “I thought we came out strong for the first period… unfortunately, Rider was able to capitalize on their power play chances and the momentum started to turn. The game seemed to be a special teams battle and even though we produced, I would have liked to see more. In these competitive games it is important to match the other team.”
But there wasn’t much time for the College to dwell on the loss as they took their home ice the following day to match the Princeton University Tigers, on Saturday, Nov. 14.
Fueled by a loss to Princeton earlier in the season, the Lions redeemed themselves with a 4-2 win.
“Having a game the next day is a great opportunity to prove ourselves with the fresh, unsettling feeling of a loss,” Collins said. “We knew we couldn’t drop a second game to Princeton with the tight conference standings.”
Collins credited assistant coach Paul Batcho for firing up the team with a locker room speech about resiliency.
“The team definitely took it to heart as we jumped to a quick 3-0 lead,” Collins said.
Suplizio netted a shorthanded goal early in the first. A little over a minute later, DiBrita tipped in a one-timer from junior defender Gary L’Heureux. To finish the first, 3-0, Collins worked his way around the Princeton defense until he had the perfect shot into the top right pocket of the net.
Almost too comfortable with the dominating lead, the Lions fell flat in the second, giving up a goal while on a power play. Princeton found its way again, with just under 10 minutes to go in the third, with another goal to lessen the Lions’ lead. But with one second left on the clock, DiBrita sealed the deal with an empty net goal.
“In the end we pulled out the win, and that’s what good teams do,” Collins said. “Even though it wasn’t our best game I think we can put it behind us and come prepared for this week’s practice.”
The Lions will hit the road next to take on the University of Pennsylvania on Friday, Nov. 20.