Pioneers Hockey Defeats Roger Williams 8-0 in Season Opener

Hulahan Pitches Shutout as Offense Dominates


William Paterson University and Roger Williams University get set to take the first faceoff of the first period.

John Fiorino, Entertainment Editor

WAYNE, N.J.- The William Paterson Pioneers hockey team looked sharp on Friday night taking the season opener over Roger Williams University, in a commanding 8-0 victory at the Ice Vault in Wayne.

From the moment the puck dropped, the game was very aggressive and physical. The crowd was electric and the players seemed beyond excited to finally have the puck drop.

At the midway point in the first period, defenseman, junior, Ryan Melvin, opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the blue line; thanks in large part to players from both sides shoving in front of the net.  As a result, the RWU netminder never saw the puck, soared over his left shoulder and into the back of the net.

The Pioneers would go on to strike twice more in the first period and would have a five goal lead by the conclusion of the second frame. With the game in their control, head coach, Joe Ballance, wanted to make sure they didn’t let up.

“We told them they stayed focused and to really concentrate on the defensive zone play,” Ballance said. “Also to take care of your job, don’t fall asleep going into the third up by five, take pride and win your battles in front of the net and keep the zero up on the board.”

That zero would stay up for the full 60 minutes as the Pioneers goaltender, junior, Jordan Hulahan, recorded his first shutout of the season. At points, he had to make the big save like on a 2-on-1 rush in the first period or from a few scrambles in front of the net.

Despite this, Hulahan remained cool, calm and collected while the Hawks offense relentlessly tried to get something going. He trusted the defense in front of him and RWU couldn’t solve the Pioneers defense.

“Overall we played good defense, they had a couple good scoring chances but nothing too crazy,” Hulahan said. “The defense really did their job tonight.”

Perhaps one of the deadliest aspects of the Pioneers potent offense is something that their opponents cannot gameplay for; their immense team chemistry.

With strong puck movement from the wings back to the blueline, creating time and space in the middle of the ice and opening the strong shooting lanes, the Hawks defense were no match to the lethal forwards. The second goal featured junior Colin Edwards, coming off the bench and in-stride chipping the puck up to sophomore forward, Nicholas Brown. Brown capitalized on the opportunity with a backhand score in front of the net.

Despite it being the fifth goal of the night for the Pioneers, this was a different scenario as  21-year-old freshman, Walt Keiper, scored his first career goal with the Pioneers. Wearing jersey number 10, the new defenseman skated hard up and down the ice all night with hope he could better the team in someway. While his goal is simple, it is something he takes a lot of pride in every night. He describes the team as a family and how they “always have your back if you mess up.”

“Having the guys behind me the whole time, the older guys took us under their wing when they first came in, it’s a great feeling,” Keiper said. “Everybody’s supportive and they want you to do well every time.”

Coming into a new season, the Pioneers have a new captain patrolling the ice. After serving as co-captain alongside Cody Calcagno in the 2016-17 season, senior defenseman, Cory Sala, has taken over the honor of wearing the classic captain’s “C” over his chest. Alternate captains for the Pioneers are forwards DJ Sabato and James Bobb.

As for Sala, the only one holding the official captain’s “C” on the team, he hopes to lead the younger players the way he has always been told. By example.

“I was never the most vocal guy in the room but I try to lead by example,” Sala said. “If you carry yourself the right way, it will spread through the locker room and forget any bad tension and if you carry yourself well and represent the name on the front of the jersey, everyone else will too.”

William Paterson is back in action Saturday Sept. 23 when it takes on the University of Delaware at 6:30 p.m. in Newark, DE.