Pioneers Hockey Finishes Semester Strong


courtesy of Cameron Dodds

John Fiorino, Managing Editor

William Paterson Pioneers men’s ice hockey closed out their fall semester home schedule by taking two out of three games on the weekend of Nov. 30 – Dec. 1. The weekend featured games against divisional opponents, New York University and Villanova University, including a home-and-home against the latter.

The Pioneers have had an incredibly low amount of home games this semester and it won’t get much better in the spring. They’ve currently played five home games at the Ice Vault in Wayne., which they possess a 1-3-1 record in. They’ll have five more before the end of the season with the final four games being in Wayne.

The last time William Paterson played NYU, the two were competing for the Division II SECHL title in 2017, which NYU won by a score of 2-1. Only six players on the current Pioneers roster remember that game, so renewing the rivalry was a big deal for this young team. Naturally, tempers would fly.

“The seniors were very adamant about this game and said it would be a tough game,” forward Andy Deangelis said. “We hate each other, from the years of playing in tournaments and being in the same league.”

NYU defeated William Paterson by a score of 4-1 in a chippy game with a lot of pressure from the Violets. Despite the loss, freshman goalie Jeremy Hamerquist had an outstanding 49-save effort and was the reason the score was only 4-1. There were 12 total penalties with the majority going to William Paterson. Some calls were questionable, like three 10-minute game misconducts given to the Pioneers in the third period and none to the Violets.

“These games will always be chippy and passionate, it takes a real experienced crew to maintain order in that game,” Pioneers Head Coach Joe Ballance said. “I thought they did okay but weren’t ready for that type of game.”

The Pioneers then won the second game of the weekend at Villanova by a score of 5-3. William Paterson fought through adversity after the Wildcats got an early first-period goal and led 2-1 at the end of the frame. The game featured five different goal scorers for William Paterson and senior goalie, Nathan Leo, picked up the win in a 21-save effort.

For the final game at the Ice Vault in the fall semester, the Pioneers played the second half of a home-and-home against Villanova. The Pioneers would win the game 3-2 thanks to late game heroics.

The matchup had two tired teams fighting for three points in the standings. The game was physical and hits were thrown. For a large amount of the game, both teams chipped the puck in deep and chased after it instead of maneuvering through defensemen. Penalties were constant for both teams with William Paterson tallying seven and Villanova taking 10. Despite all the opportunity, only one power play goal was scored between both squads and it was the Wildcat’s final goal. The Pioneers tallied two goals in the second half of the third period to get the win. Hamerquist came up big in certain spots and got the win on a 25-save performance.

Three games in three days is a tough schedule for any team. Ballance relied on certain lines at different points in the game to keep the Pioneers fresh. In such an emotional game, the Pioneers easily could’ve lost control. However, Ballance grounded them and made sure they stayed focused.

“We want to get our three points, that’s what’s on the line,” Ballance said.

Overall, the Pioneers are average in their first season of Divison I hockey. They hold a record of 7-7-1 and their play is on the rise. After the first five games, William Paterson was 1-3-1 and being outscored 25-16 by their opponents. Since Oct. 14, the Pioneers have outscored their opponents 37-35 after their win against Drexel on Friday, Dec. 7. While that’s only a +2 goal differential in total, in just two months they’ve shifted the overall differential by 11 goals; a feat not easy to do in two months of high-scoring hockey. Deangelis sees a clear difference in the Pioneers since the start.

“It’s really night and day. I think in the beginning, a lot of the guys coming from high school and just making the transition was really tough,” Deangelis said. “I think we’re picking up on the speed, we’re starting to buy into our system and the guys are starting to get a little closer.”

After the Drexel win, the Pioneers are officially done for the fall semester. They return to action on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, against Delaware University. The next home game is Jan. 18, 2019 against Temple University.