Rutgershockey.com contributor Vincent Santorelli recaps all of the Rutgers Hockey Fall 2016 semester action from the team's trip to Colorado to their epic comeback vs Liberty U.
South Brunswick, NJ – The Rutgers University Ice Knights dropped the puck on the 2016 ACHA season ranked 21st in the ACHA preseason polls. The season began with a home loss against the Jr Flyers, but the team’s focus was quickly shifted West. The Knights boarded a plane to the Rockies for a four game swing against the University of Colorado Buffalos and the Colorado State University Rams. The challenge proved tough, with the Knights emerging 1-3 over the length of the trip. For the players, however, it was a tremendous experience.
Team Captain James Felice described the trip as "special," stating: "it allows a team to come together. It gives the opportunity to those new guys to interact with the boys and get to know them better. I believe the trip brought everyone together and that's really important at the start of a season."
The Ice Knights returned home to ProSkate Arena in winning fashion, sweeping back-to-back contests against the U.S. Naval Academy. Both games ended with a score of 5-3.
The Knights next dropped both games of a tough home-and home series with the University of Delaware Blue Hens. This began a 6-game home stand that saw Rutgers’ first 3-game win streak of the season. The run included a 2-game sweep of Stony Brook and a hard-fought win against URI to split the series between the Knights and the Rams.
When asked about the Stony Brook series, points leader Brian Gnad said "Sweeping stony brook was a huge accomplishment for us. It's given us confidence and momentum to carry into the second half of the season."
Following the extended home stand, Rutgers headed back down the Turnpike for the first game of another home-and-home series against UDel. The Knights and Hens split the series, both teams winning on their opponents’ home ice.
The Knights wrapped up first semester action with a dramatic come-from-behind win against Liberty University. Rutgers fell behind 3-0 early in the second period but responded with two goals, the second a power play goal with 1 second left in the period. Rutgers net minder Chris Marsillo would shut the door on the next 48 shots. The Knights completed the comeback in the third, adding three more goals to make it 5 unanswered goals, pulling off an improbable victory and ending the first semester on a high note.
"Some nights it's going to happen like that. You find yourselves down 3-0 and the window slowly begins to close. It's being able to fight that adversity in between periods and pressing the reset button. It's a useful tool to have down the road" said James Felice.
After one semester of play, Rutgers sits at 9-7-1 and ranked 25 in the ACHA polls. F Brian Gnad leads the Ice Knights in goals (13) and assists (16). Chris “Crispy” Marsillo has been solid between the pipes, boasting a .919 SV% and earning an invite to the US Men's National University Team training camp. Marsillo is 1 of 3 ACHA D1 goaltenders invited to the camp in Boston at the end of December. Marsillo will be competing for one of 2 final roster spots for the World University Games in Kazakhstan.
"It's an excellent opportunity that I am very excited about. I appreciate all of my family, friends, and teammates who have all supported me and helped me be in this position. It's an honor and a privilege to be recognized by USA Hockey" Marsillo said.
Rutgers looks to keep the momentum rolling when they open up second semester play with the annual outdoor game on January 7th at Navesink Country Club in Middletown, NJ. The Ice Knights will skate against Lehigh University with proceeds benefiting the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
Tag(s): D1 Rutgers Ice Knights