William Paterson Hockey Defeats Post University, 5-4; SECHL Playoffs Ahead

Seniors lead the way on senior night and look ahead to league playoffs.


Courtesy of John Fiorino

The seniors line up next to their alternate jerseys (left to right): Brophy, Bobb, Schoeppler, Kapp, Coxe, McDermitt.

John Fiorino, Entertainment Editor

The William Paterson Pioneers men’s ice hockey team (17-2-3) won a hard fought game against Post University (3-17, NCAA D3) on Saturday Feb. 11 by a score of 5-4 at the Ice Vault. The Pioneers were able to secure the number one seed by getting their 11th win on senior night, one more win than SECHL rival, New York University.

Headed into the third period, the Pioneers were up 5-2 thanks to their relentless forecheck and strong neutral zone play. William Paterson junior, Daniel Sabato, helped put the team in that position by getting two goals. However, when a sixth William Paterson goal was disallowed in the closing seconds of the second period because of a tripping penalty, one could feel momentum shifting. The Pioneers would have to hold the Eagles strong push for most of the third. Pioneers goaltender, senior Gary Schoeppler, was up to the test and stopped two surefire goals as well as the other saves. Despite Schoeppler’s strong play, he did not want his teammates to go unnoticed.

“The last few minutes the boys really bared down to help me out and it just speaks caliber of the defensive mindset of these guys, they really helped me out,” Schoeppler said.

Before the game against Post University, William Paterson had a plus 34 goal differential for the season. In order for that to continue, Head Coach, Joe Ballance, said they have to “stick to their game plan that allows for that offensive style of play.” At the conclusion of the game, Ballance pointed out the team’s strong points and also what they have to work on before the playoffs.

“It started with our forecheck being able to play in their end for the majority of the time,” Ballance said. “I thought some untimely penalties towards the end kind of hurt us. But it tests us and our penalty kill to hang out for the win.”

The win would put the team at an overall record of 17-2-3, good for first place in the SECHL, and securing a first round bye for the playoffs that are at Floyd Hall Arena, in Little Falls, N.J. (Montclair State University’s campus). William Paterson’s first game will be on Saturday Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m., against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They are the victor of the quarterfinals game, RPI and Montclair State University, which took place on Friday, Feb. 17. The Pioneers will have fresh legs for their matchup as they were granted a bye. If the Pioneers defeat RPI, they will battle the victor of NYU and the University of New Hampshire on Sunday Feb. 19 for the SECHL title at noon.

Coming off of a two and a half month long road trip, 7-1-1 during that span, the Pioneers were headed home for one last game. The senior night celebration only happens once where the senior class is observed and thanked for all their hard work and dedication. The seniors in the class of 2017 are: Gary Schoeppler, Steve McDermitt, Brett Brophy, James Bobb, William Kapp and Edmund Coxe. They were honored prior to the game by having their name announced and received a gift from the coaching staff. Inside the bag was a custom WPU hockey jacket and action shots of them playing throughout the season.

On senior night, it is challenging to try and put all the emotions into words. Schoeppler explained after the game that he and the rest of the Pioneers are more than just a hockey team, they’re family.

“I love them,” Schoeppler said. “I hope to be in touch with them 10 years down the road and if they ever need anything I’m there for them.”

Senior and assistant captain, James Bobb, went on to add that even though senior night was fun, they are still looking at the work ahead.

“We just have to work hard and play our best,” Bobb said. “We know what we’re capable of and we’re hoping to win a trophy.”