A new season of West Chester University hockey is underway, and this year’s team seems to have developed a nasty habit of winning. Although still early in a season that stretches into early-March, thus far the Golden Rams are playing like a team hungry for a championship. An 8-2 overall record, coupled with a 4-0 mark in league play in the Eastern Conference Hockey Association (ECHA), has the team off to its best start since 2003.
It has not been much of a surprise that the Golden Rams are performing with a will to win every night, as strong coaching and team leadership have helped made this season special.
“We attribute the team’s early success this year to some excellent coaching by Mark Gonsalves, along with good leadership from our captains and our assistant captains,” said team general manager Dom Bellizzie.
Bellizzie believes that the team has consistently found ways to win thanks to a strong cast of young and veteran players, but the defense, in particular, has proven to be an important part to the team’s good fortune.
“I can’t name just one player that has been a standout this year.
I think the team has come together as a team rather quickly, which has contributed to our success so far,” he said. “We have excellent goaltending so far from Jason Mardinly, Eric Sotsky, and Louis Perez.”
The team has benefited from the play of defensemen Bob Kenworthy and Tim Tabb. Transfer players Joe Viscuse, Andy Rummel and Dan Ratcliff have also made an impact in the early stages of the season.
The Golden Rams are coming off a win at home last Friday against Duquesne, 2-1, and are ahead to a two-game set versusRhode Island, who has the best record among all ECHA teams.
While not officially considered an athletics team at WCU, the hockey program continues to thrive. A successful recruiting process, done mostly via the team’s website and through scouting at various high school junior-level games, help make Golden Rams hockey the best and most popular club sport at the university.
According to Bellizzie, the university’s failure to include hockey as a member of its athletics department may be due to the various expenses that are necessary to run a profitable and successful program.
“I would say the main reason WCU hockey isn’t recognized as an athletic team is purely financial,” he said. “We could be very competitive as a division two or three team, but I’m sure the administration feels the cost would be prohibited.”
In addition to being a member of the ECHA, the Golden Rams are also a part of the AmericanCollegiate Hockey Association, which includes over 40 of the best college hockey programs in the nation. This season, the Golden Rams hockey hosts its first ACHA National Tournament from March 2-6 at the Iceline Rink, where the team also plays all home games.
“It would be nice to see some faculty and student participation for our team at the tournament,” said Bellizzie.
Winning the championship, of course, would be even nicer.