Every cloud has its silver lining, and for the Rams men’s hockey team, that came in the form of a dramatic 5-4 overtime win over Rutgers in round one of the ESCHL playoffs one day before ending their season by getting shut out by Delaware.
West Chester got two goals from captain Steve Meade, one from breakout forward Matt Sklodowski, and two from Chris Gentile, including the overtime winner to push West Chester into the second round and send Rutgers home. It was West Chester’s first win since defeating Penn State Berks on Feb. 2.
“It was a very good game and a lot of fun to watch,” head coach Mark Gonsalves said. “It was very evenly matched, back and forth all game. I was very proud of them for the effort and getting us to the next game.”
It was that next game, however, that again uncovered the weaknesses of the Golden Rams this season, as they were shut out by Delaware 6-0, eliminating them from the playoffs.
This is the third game West Chester has lost to Delaware in the last two weeks, and they have managed just one goal over those three games compared to 21 from the Blue Hens.
“Delaware was just better. Bigger, faster, and all around better,” a disappointed Gonsalves said.
The Rams finished the season just a game over the .500 mark with a 16-15-2 record (6-9 at home, 10-6 on the road), which was slightly downhill from last year’s mark record of 19-13.They were also outscored on the season 146 to 115.
There was a general feeling from the Golden Rams of failing to meet both team and personal expectations this season.
“Expectations were not met,” Gonsalves said. “They fell far short of what I was hoping for. I can’t put my finger on one thing. Some of my top guys looked great on paper but it did not transpire to the ice. We struggled offensively this year and the defense was definitely short of what I expected. Defensively, we were not strong in our own end.”
“I believe I could have done more as a leader and contributed more offensively,” said alternate captain Tim Margadonna, who tallied 12 goals and 18 assists last year, but just three goals and 16 assists this season. “The season as a whole didn’t go as we would have wanted.”
Margadonna was not the only big name forward that had a slight down year. Harrison Welch, who served as one of the team’s top playmakers last year with 23 assists had only 10 this season. There were only four players with 20 or more points, compared to seven in 2011-12.
“I thought some of my veterans stepped up and played better and of course some of the returning players did not,” Gonsalves said. “As for growth, I saw a lot of it, believe it or not, from my rookies.”
Players such as Alec Davidson, Zach Jensen, Mike Dorfschneider, and James Davis all had great first season with West Chester. They brought physicality on defense and the forecheck, and learned how to adjust to the level of hockey quickly. Towards the end of the season they started producing offensively, as well.
Another player with a breakout year was Sklodowski, the sophomore forward. Sklodowski finished the season second on the team in scoring with 16 goals and 14 assists. He was one of two 30-point scorers on the team and more than doubled his goal totals from last year. At 6-foot-2 and over 200 pounds, Sklodowski’s size and strength paired with his newly found offensive flare should make him into one of the most prominent scorers for West Chester in the coming seasons.
Meade, as expected, finished his final season with the Rams atop many of the offensive categories. Meade recorded 44 points (23 goals, 21 assists) for his second straight 40-point season. He has scored at least 30 in all four years with West Chester and has never finished lower than the top three in goals, placing first on the team the last two seasons. He accumulated 165 points over his four seasons in purple and gold.
Meade, along with Margadonna, Dan Griffiths, and Will Parra, will be graduating this spring and leaving the team for the youth to take over. Despite the mediocrity of the past several seasons, they have expressed their appreciation being able to play four years with West Chester.
“There are many great memories I will have to look back on down the road and smile at,” Margadonna said. “We might not have lived up to expectations this year, but we were a great family and I will miss WCU hockey incredibly.”
Kenny Ayres is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. He can be reached at KA739433@wcupa.edu.