Two seasons have passed and much has changed since the RU D1 Men’s Ice Hockey Team chose to move its home to ProSkate Arena in South Brunswick, NJ. Now that the 2015-2016 season has concluded, the players, staff, and fans are able to look back and truly see the result of those changes. The program’s new regime, and their continued pursuit of excellence, has put Rutgers Hockey back on a path to achieving steady improvement and annual success.
During the second semester of the season, the boys participated in two charity games. The Ice Knights hosted the Villanova Ice Cats in their annual Winter Classic game on January 9th, at Navesink Country Club (Middletown, NJ). It was there that former local high school hockey player Mike Nichols, who was permanently injured during a January 2014 game, represented the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the charity to which the game’s proceeds were donated. In an exciting game under the stars, Rutgers jumped out to a 3-0 lead early, and managed to hold on for a 6-5 win, solidifying a great experience for the team and fans alike. Rutgers Alumnus Kathryn Tappen (NBC & NHL Network Analyst) was also in attendance, making a special appearance in the locker room to celebrate with the team after the game.
After a difficult trip to play the University of Rhode Island five days later, Rutgers shared a home-and-home weekend with Lebanon Valley College. That Saturday, Rutgers partnered with Defending the Blue Line in hosting the club’s second annual Military Appreciation Night. Proceeds from attendance, as well equipment donations, were collected for DBTL to aid hockey families of military service members while they away from home.
Leading scorers for the Ice Knights during the nine-game second semester were Assistant Captain Brian Gnad (7G, 9A - 18 points), CJ Maksut (4G, 9A - 13 points), Kevin Fitch (3G, 11A - 14 points) and Griffin Privitera (2G, 4A - 6 points). Gnad concluded the 2015-2016 campaign with 45 points (21G, 24A) in 26 games and was selected to the ESCHL’s 1st Team All-League. Maksut and Fitch were tied for 2nd in terms of offensive output, both with 30 points. Maksut had 15G & 15A in 26 games while Fitch registered 6G & 24A in 25 games. Junior and Assistant Captain Rob Bolinder, with 11 assists & 54 penalty minutes, led the defense in point production and the team in penalties. Between the pipes, Chris Marsillo earned wins over Villanova, West Chester University and the University of Delaware during the second semester of the season. Marsillo totaled 10 wins in his first year with the team, with a 0.89 save percentage and two shutouts. Rookie netminder Thomas Marigliano also fought hard in a 2-1 win over West Chester University, maintaining a 0.97 save percentage during his first start of the semester.
Having begun the year with a pre-season ACHA D1 ranking of #48 in the nation, the Ice Knights participated in 26 hard-fought regular season games, a majority of which were against teams ranked in the nation’s top-20. The re-focused Ice Knights pushed the envelope and the expectations of many throughout the year, and finished as the #20 ranked team in the country. The program’s 12 wins tripled the amount from just 4 the entire season prior. Rutgers also scored 25 more goals this season over the same amount of games (91 goals in 26 games), averaging 3.5 goals per game. Defensively, the Ice Knights allowed 60 fewer goals than the year before, cutting the number down from 157 to 97 goals against.
The returning Ice Knights staff and players will now move forward in their preparation for a 2016 – 2017 season that promises to have huge potential. Before doing so, we would like to thank the following graduating Seniors for the unforgettable memories they’ve created while wearing an Ice Knights sweater:
#3 Kevin Crehan
#10 Jake Pyhel
#22 Cody Berquist
#25 Tyler Rule
#79 Pat Jarczewski
#4 Rob Pellegrino, Assistant Captain
#18 Dan Pagliuso