For the second time in as many years, the Montclair State University Men’s Ice Hockey team has earned an invitation to the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II National Tournament to be held in San Jose, California beginning March 15. The Red Hawks defeated regional rivals Marist College and Boston College to earn the bid to the Nationals and claim their place among the top 16 teams in the nation.
“Qualifying for the Nationals two consecutive years shows that our team is becoming deeper talent wise,” said Associate Head Coach Robbie Martinez. “It also builds upon the reputation of a team that is striving to be better year after year. In doing this, we are attracting better student athletes to Montclair State. To be one of the top 16 teams in the nation says something about the state of our hockey program.”
Montclair State will face, Michigan State, Florida Gulf Coast University, and tournament host San Jose State in pool play to open the tournament. Should they win their pool, they will advance to the semi-finals to be held on March 18, and a win there would take them to the championship game on March 19.
Under the guidance of General Manager and Montclair State University Police Detective Sergeant Tim Fox, Head Coach Frank Barone, Associate Head Coach Martinez, and assistant coaches Ryan Bourke, Christian Valvano, and Mark Puttenvink, the Red Hawks finished the 2010-2011 season with an overall record of 19-6-1 and a record of 12-3-1 in league play. They are seeded third in the northeast division for the National Tournament.
Before heading to San Jose for the ACHA Nationals, however, the Red Hawks will be competing in the Super East Collegiate Hockey League (SECHL) finals in Albany, New York beginning March 5. The outcome there will not affect the standings in the ACHA tournament, but the Red Hawks could potentially face some of the same teams they will face in San Jose, so it promises to be a challenging contest.
According to Fox, the Red Hawks will have a first round bye at the SECHL finals because they finished the season second in the league, and are looking to surpass their achievements of last season. “Our goal is to win our first ever SECHL Championship this weekend,” he said.
The commitment of the players is a major reason for the team’s success notes Martinez. “Being a full time student is hard enough for most kids,” he said. “But being a part of a team that competes at a high level, going to school, making time for their families, and working several hours a week is even harder. Our coaching and management staff work equally as hard to keep the program at its full potential.”
In addition to the talent and hard work of the players, Fox credits the team’s success to the teamwork displayed throughout the entire organization. “Our entire staff works incredibly well together,” notes Fox. “And since we are a club, we are indebted to the support of Romayne Eaker-Kelly and the entire Department of Campus Recreation.”
Congratulations to all the players, coaches, and staff of the Montclair State Men’s Ice Hockey Team and good luck in the upcoming tournaments!
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