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Rutgers Men’s Ice Hockey Season Review

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Rutgers Hockey takes another step forward, and a step back, as they close out the 2016-17 season with a 12-17-0-0-1 record.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Another Rutgers ice hockey season is in the books! The Men’s D1 team finished the year with a 12-17-0-0-1 record overall, while the D2 team finished 16-12-2-0-0. Both teams had up-and-down but relatively successful seasons so let’s take a closer look.

The D1 team (12-17-0-0-1) had an 8-7-0 home record and a 4-10-0 away record, with their lone shootout loss coming on the road at the University of Delaware on October 14. Goaltender Christopher Marsillo finished the season with a 12-16 record, and he did play all 30 games; he earned a 3.68 goals against average and a .912 save percentage, with a pair of shutouts. Brian Gnad finished with a team-high 39 points (averaging 1.3 points/game), and led the team in goals (18) and assists (21); he also finished 10th overall in ESCHL scoring. The Ice Knights had six players with more than 10 points: Gnad (39), Kevin Fitch (28), Tyler Mishchenko (12), Mitch Crenshaw (12), Nicholas Holowko (11), and Griffin Privitera (11). Fitch had a team-high five power play goals, Privitera had 51 penalties (in minutes), and Matt Langlois had three-game winning goals. The team, as a whole, had a -45 goal differential and never won more than three games in a row. They finished the season at 5th in the ESCHL, picking up just 26 points.

Games #1-10: the Ice Knights started the season with four games in four days, and had two straight losses to the University of Colorado, 7-0 in their season opener and 12-2 in the back end of the back-to-back. Timothy Bizub and Holowko picked up their first goals of the season, both unassisted. The team then split its next two games against Colorado State, winning the first 2-0 (with tallies from Joe Delandro and Fitch), and dropping the second 2-1, Gnad scoring the lone goal and his first of the season. They won both games, 5-3, against the U.S. Naval Academy; Andrew Yasenchock, Privitera, Fitch (2), Gnad (5), and Langlois all scored goals in that two-game span. Gnad had a natural hat trick in the second game and totaled seven points. The team lost its next two to Delaware, 5-4 and 5-2, and won their following two against Stony Brook, 4-2 and 2-1. Gnad picked up five points in that span (2G, 3A), Fitch had a pair of goals and assists, and Mishchenko, Holowko, and Crenshaw had two goals apiece. Their season got off to a decent start (5-5-0) but they were unable to string enough wins together throughout the rest of the season.

Games #11-20: the Ice Knights secured their first of two three-game winning streaks when they defeated Rhode Island in a 4-3 shootout win at home; Fitch, Gnad, and defenseman Ned Richard scored regulation goals while Privitera scored the shootout winner. The team was shutout 2-0 in their second game against Rhode Island. They split the home-and-home with Delaware, winning the first 3-2 on the road but losing 5-3 at home. They lost to West Chester 5-4 on the road but won their next three games, their only other three-game winning streak of the season: 3-2 against West Chester at home, 5-3 against Liberty, and 2-1 at Rhode Island. They were down 2-0 against Liberty but came back to win behind goals from Fitch (2), Gnad, Richard, and Privitera. CJ Maksut scored his first goal since returning from injury in the win at Rhode Island; he had nine points in the 13 games he did play, and it isn’t difficult to imagine how many points he could have put up had he been healthy the entire season. The Ice Knights then proceeded to lose their next three on the road, with a 4-2 loss at Rhode Island and an absolute thrashing (8-0) by Ohio University.

Games #21-30: their third loss also came at the hands of Ohio, 6-1 this time; Gnad’s 14th goal of the season prevented the Ice Knights from being shutout for the second straight game. They won both contests against West Chester, 4-0 and 5-3; those would be their last two wins of the season. The Ice Knights went on a seven-game losing streak (all on the road) to end the season and were 2-8-0 in their last 10. The team, however, could not muster enough offense in those last seven games; they lost 7-3 against Liberty, 4-1 and 5-1 to Stony Brook, 5-3 and 10-0 to Liberty, 5-0 to Rhode Island, and then 3-2 to Stony Brook to close out the season. This was definitely not the way the team wanted to end, but it’ll hopefully serve as motivation going forward.

The team took a small step backward from their 2015-16 campaign, when they held a 12-13-0-0-1 record and a .472 win percentage; they were much better at home (9-5-0-0) and were third in the ESCHL with a - 6 goal differential. This season, they have a .433 win percentage and a - 45 goal differential. However, both seasons were vast improvements over their 2014-15 season, in which they won just four contests and finished last in the ESCHL. The team still has a ways to go but the program is growing and will be very good in the years to come.

One thing of note: former Head Coach Michael Bernstein stepped down in February, due to personal reasons. Then-Assistant Head Coach Joe Dickson was promoted and took over the head coaching job; the D1 Ice Knights went 0-4-0 under him.

The D2 team (12-6-2-0-0) had a relatively much better season; it finished with a 6-4-0 home record and a 6-2-0 road record. Goaltender Thomas Marigliano had a 9-13 record with a single shutout; he posted a 2.62 GAA and .916 save %. Goalies Christopher Fiorillo (2-1, 2.87 GAA, .903 save %, 1 shutout) and Michael Liscio (1-2, 5.24 GAA, .843 save %) also saw some time this season. The team had nine players with more than 10 points: Tommy Fisher (22), Sean Conheeney (18), Cory Zrinko (16), Peter Krzewinski (15), Daniel Taule (15), Kyle Smith (14), Branden Kushnir (13), Anthony Margiotta (13), and Ryan Levy (13). Kushnir led the team with nine goals, Fisher had 16 assists and five power play goals, Margiotta had a pair of shorthanded goals, Smith racked up 46 PIM, and Zrinko had three game-winning goals.

Games #1-10: the D2 Ice Knights started the season 0-4-1. They lost their home opener to NJIT, 5-2. They tied West Chester in their second game at 3, despite being down 0-3, with goals from Smith, Fisher, and Tom Savino. They suffered a brutal 7-1 loss to Army, and then 6-2 and 4-2 losses to Princeton; the team was up 2-0 in the first loss to Princeton but they scored six unanswered goals. They got their first win of the season against the University of Pennsylvania, 6-5; Conheeney, Fisher, and Smith all scored goals while Margiotta had a natural hat trick. They had a 5-5 tie against TCNJ (they were up 5-2), a 3-2 loss to Millersville (were down 0-3), and then a pair of wins, 5-3 against Scranton and 5-2 at Monmouth. Kushnir scored a pair of goals in the loss to Millersville. The Ice Knights were up 4-0 on Scranton but came out with a close one; Zrinko had the eventual game-winner.

Games #11-20: they won their next four games, posting a season-high six-game win streak, as they defeated Seton Hall 9-3, West Chester 8-6, UPenn 6-2, and TCNJ 4-2. Fisher, Taule, and Levy all had a pair of goals in the Seton Hall win. The Ice Knights were down 6-3 to West Chester but scored five unanswered goals to come out with the win; John Bastardo had a natural hat trick in the effort. Their win was gusty, and may have defined their season; despite being down by three goals, they found a way to get their offense going and win. However, their winning streak came to an end with a 4-1 loss to Millersville; Margiotta scored the lone goal. The Ice Knights finished out their season with five wins in the same number of games, closing out the season with a 9-1-0 record. They earned impressive wins against the U.S. Naval Academy (4-0), Scranton (2-1), NJIT (5-1), Seton Hall (7-0), and Monmouth (5-2). Conheeney, Krzewinski, and Ryan Hille all had a pair of goals in the Seton Hall shutout.

The D2 team had a great season and just like the D1 team, they will continue to grow and evolve, as will the Rutgers Ice Hockey program. Both teams had a good year and are taking steps in the right direction; they have had some impressive wins and will build on that over the offseason and in the future. They have plenty to look forward to next season.