Pioneers Hockey Remains Undefeated In Win Against Merrimack


courtesy of: John Fiorino

John Fiorino, Entertainment Editor

The William Paterson Pioneers triumphed  in a hard fought game with Merrimack College and won by a score of 7-4 on Friday night at the Ice Vault in Wayne.

The highly offensive game featured big hits, lots of shots on net and a plethora of penalties from both clubs because of scrappy play.  The frustration seemed to grow for Merrimack in the second period when defenseman Sean Keenan was issued a questionable game misconduct penalty for head contact. The misconduct was not the only controversial call of the night as players from both clubs were shaking their heads in disagreement on their way the penalty box.  This was the beginning to a reoccurring theme of the night as there were additional “no calls” by the officials throughout the duration of the contest. Although the Pioneers did not convert on Keenan’s five minute game misconduct penalty, the physicality of the match spiked after the call.

Regardless of the style of play, the Pioneers continued their hot start to the campaign, improving their record to 7-0. Head coach Joe Ballance is proud of his team, however, he feels that this game was sloppy.

“We’ve played six out of seven games well,” Ballance said. “But you find ways to win, and that’s what we did, and that’s what good teams do. We just have to recognize that we can’t play that way and we have to learn from it.”

One of the keys to the Pioneers early success thus far has been the play of  junior forward Colin Edwards who had 14 points in six games coming into tonight’s matchup. Edwards added to his total in this contest as he and teammates, Daniel Sabato and James Karp combined for 12 points. His fast start has certainly contributed to the Pioneers perfect record, but despite his strong individual play, he credits his teammates for most of the success.

“I joined the team this year, as the new guy and they couldn’t have made it any easier for me to be playing the way I’m playing,” Edwards said. “This team is outstanding.”

As a transfer, one of the harder things to learn is the chemistry and how to grow with their teammates. Luckily for Edwards, this isn’t his first time growing with a new team.

“This isn’t my first or second school so I’ve been pretty accustomed to settling in with the guys quick,” Edwards said. “It starts off the ice and forming bonds and then those take part on the ice and it shows because we all have each other’s backs out there.”

On multiple occasions the Pioneers junior goaltender, Nathan Leo came up big when his team needed him the most. Whether it be on the penalty kill or the Warriors generating chances in the Pioneers zone, Leo remained focused.

“I was just fighting the puck all night so my mentality was to just keep fighting until we scored because I knew that with the scoring power on this team, we’d bury a couple and run this team out of the building.” Leo said. “I just want to make sure there’s no threat back door and if they get a shot I either want to eat that rebound or put it in the corner so there’s no danger at all.”

Despite the strong start to the season, Edwards stressed that the team cannot let up.

“There’s no time for slowing down,” Edwards said. “We just have to keep moving forward, I don’t think anyone has plans to slow down right now.”

The Pioneers next game is scheduled for a 2:15 p.m. puck drop on Saturday Oct. 21.