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Men’s Hockey season comes down to final stretch

By Andrew Scarpaci, Sports Editor

The LIU Men’s Hockey team is wrapping up their 3rd season in program history. Currently, they have a record of 13-20-1, but their record does not tell the whole story. 

With many games against some of the nation’s best, the team held its own and put on some great showings. On Nov. 25, LIU had their first win against a ranked opponent in school history, defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 3-2, who were ranked 12 in the nation. They also tied 2-2 vs Quinnipiac University on the road on Oct. 9, who at one point were ranked #1 in the nation.

In their final series, the Sharks had one of their most entertaining games of the season, dominating Alaska Anchorage 6-2 on Sunday, Feb. 26, in a matchup that featured high powered offense, physical competitiveness, and stellar goaltending from senior Brandon Perone. 

Photos courtesy of Athletics

Redshirt freshman defenseman Xan Gurney believes that the team made great progress this season.

“I don’t think our record really shows as well of a season we’ve had so far, but a lot of close games, one goal losses which obviously staying real close to home, but we’ve been in there with a lot of ranked teams,” he said. “We beat Ohio State once this year, which is a really big win for our program. So that was cool for us, but it’s been a promising season for the years to come.”

The Sharks currently do not compete in a conference, which is why their schedule is balanced with teams all throughout the Division I level. Sophomore defenseman John Gormley enjoys  the diversity that comes with being an independent program.

“I think the coolest thing about being in an independent team is being able to load your schedule with high end teams all at the top of the rankings,” he said. “At the beginning of the season we played a number of top 20 teams and obviously beating a few and staying in there with a bunch of them is really cool.”

The Sharks have been lead by graduate forward Anthony Vincent, who currently leads the team with 35 points, and was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, the honor given yearly to the best player in collegiate hockey. 

Gurney believes Vincent is finally getting the national recognition he deserves. 

“[Vincent] has had an unbelievable year, a big breakout year for him. His work ethic and honesty on and off the ice just goes to show If you stay with it, it’s going to pay off for you,” he said. “He works harder than most of the guys out there and production is showing the way that he is.”

Sophomore defenseman Dylan Shuett agrees with this sentiment. 

“It’s contagious all the way around in practice, being up the rink and at the gym. Guys that log big minutes like that, it’s going to take a toll on their body and just to see what he battles through on a daily basis with injuries and he’s still doing all the sets,” he said. “He doesn’t back down, he doesn’t shy away from any of that and that’s definitely contagious and that’s what you look for in a leader and it’s definitely inspiring for the rest of us to see what he goes through and how he battles every day in practice.”

When reflecting on the season, Shuett credits goalies Vinnie Purpura and Brandon Perrone for the team’s success. 

[Purpura] is a monster back there, we don’t get to where we are today without him back there. They’ve been unbelievable for us, when [Perrone] is in, he’s on and I think he doesn’t get enough credit because he pushes video in practice and keeps us all accountable,” he said. The two of them together make an awesome team and [Perrone] really stepped up big in the games that he’s been in for us.”

Gormley respects the dedication and commitment from Head Coach Brett Riley to the program.

“I think it’s so easy to buy into what he’s doing and how easy it is to play for him. Being able to see how much he cares, he built this program with his bare hands, him and the rest of his staff,” he said. “I think all the guys give him a lot of credit for how he built this program up from nothing. To see how much he cares about the program and how much he’s put into it, I think it makes it easy for the guys in the locker room to buy in for him.”

The Sharks have their final series of the season on the road against Arizona State on Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11.

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