Wilkes Ice Colonels seek c’s in confidence and chemistry

Frank Passalacqua, Sports Co-Editor

With only 14 collegiate competing sports teams, it was said Wilkes may be looking to add a few new ones to the university.

President Leahy, I’m looking at you.

After how the club ice hockey team has been playing lately, they can certainly give an other D-III team a run for their money.

In only their second year, the Ice Colonels have improved vastly over last year’s record of (2-12). The team lost six seniors, but have also added new faces with freshmen and sophomores joining the team.

“We have a bunch of new kids playing and we switched leagues from people who were semi-professionals to a league more of our level,” said Ben Eaton, goalie.

In fact, last year’s opponents were anything but intermediate. The conference consisted of NCAA players, former pros and semi professionals. To get an idea of the competition level, Dennis Bonvie was on defense for a team in the league.

Bonvie was a former player in both the NHL and AHL, and is the most penalized player in professional hockey history.

This year, the Ice Colonels find themselves in a much more reasonable league, the Penalty Box Hockey League. The PBHL consists of players who signed up to be apart of the league to play for fun. The team now plays at the Revolution Ice Box in Pittston.

“This year we can still have a good time even when we’re losing because it’s more relaxed than last year,” said Eaton. “It’s really helped us develop. Most of us all know each other from having classes and the group of friends who played together over the past two years so we’re all having a good time.”

And a good time it is.

The Ice Colonels have fought their way to the top of their C/D Division, ranked at No. 2 with a (7-4) record. What’s more impressive is the fact they pulled together a season-changing five-game winning streak and have not lost a single game in the month of March. The streak included a whopping 10-4 victory over the Silver Bullets. The Silver Bullets were the only undefeated team in the league at that time at (8-0).

What seems to be bringing the team together is the team chemistry they have built over time. Granted this league is just for fun, the Ice Colonels have managed to align their talents and rise to the top.

“Our team chemistry is through the roof,” said senior Ryan Maloney, defense. “Our top two lines are playing great together. I settled in with my defensive partner and the other defensive pairs have settled in with their guys. We’re starting to build confidence. Guys are starting to learn their positions better and figure each other out as a team. It’s not just one guy out there scoring all the goals, we’re doing it as a team. The only word for it is confidence- going back and keep playing with a chip on our shoulder with the underdog-role kind of mentality.”

Even though the Ice Colonels realize teamwork is the key to their success, there is no denying the talent Sean Ryan brings to the offense.

Playing at center, Sean leads the entire C/D league with 23 goals and 15 assists for a total of 38 points. Sean is only three points behind the top player in the A/B league for most points in the entire PBHL.

That stat is pretty impassive, considering there are 12 teams total that are playing in this league. However, Sean quickly dismisses the glory and cites his teammates for the success of himself and the team.

“I actually didn’t know that statistic,” said Ryan. “To be honest points mean nothing to me as long as the team is winning, but it does feel great to know that I’m leading the league and helping the team out. It’s nice to see all the hard work pay off, but I wouldn’t have so many points without my linemates. They deserve as much credit as I do. We just need to keep looking forward and focus on the playoffs. As long as we play as a team the points and wins will keep coming. Who knows maybe I’ll be leading it all at the end of the season, but more importantly maybe we can bring home the championship for Wilkes.”

The championship is now a reality.

The Ice Colonels like to refer to themselves as a third period team. They adopted that title because the third period is said to be the deciding factor. Numerous times throughout the season, a game has come down to that final period where they have either made a giant comeback or clinched a victory.

While everything seems to be going smoothly for the team, they still face some issues.

Since the are not formally associated as a Wilkes University team, there is no funding. With no funding comes the problems.

For starters, the only time the Ice Colonels get to practice is when they have games. Since ice time is so expensive, around $200 an hour, the team can not hold separate practices to train and work on drills throughout the week.

Each player needs to supply their own equipment as well and have been selling t-shirts on the side in order to make extra money for the team. The Ice Colonels have, though, received some help from Student Government. SG agreed to pay half of the league fees for the team, cutting their season cost in half.

However, it is each player’s responsibility to make it to the arena for games. The team is hopeful for a potential future shuttle service to and from the area.

With only one game remaining in the regular season, the playoffs are scheduled to begin on April 16. If the Ice Colonels prevail, the Championship game is the 3-game series beginning the 18th.