Suffolk’s men’s club hockey team has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start for their first official season, dropping their first two games against Harvard and Wheaton by a combined score of 15-8 before securing a 6-3 victory over Middlesex Community College.
Despite the early setbacks, the team believes that their best hockey is yet to come. “We’re going through growing pains, but not in a negative way. We need to take the small amount of time we have and come together as a team and grow through our experiences,” said Scott Cleary, junior left winger and co-president of the club team. The team has a lot of new faces this year and has only had a handful of practices together as a unit. “Kids need to be more aggressive, attack the puck harder. We need to not hesitate and figure out how to work together.”
Positive signs can also be taken from the team’s first three games. The Rams only have three lines of forwards (as opposed to the usual four,) and surprisingly it is the third line that has been making the most noise. Led by freshman right winger Chris Cunniffe (3G, 1A) the third line has carried the brunt of the offense. “He’s been playing very solid hockey,” Cleary said of Cunniffe. While the third line may be stealing the show at this point in the season, all three lines have been able to pitch in some solid offense.
The team is confident that their defense first style of play will eventually come through and start winning games for them. Utilizing the neutral zone trap, a system that emphasizes on forcing turnovers in the neutral zone while the opposing team is on the rush, the Rams have tried to concentrate on defense over offense, a sensible strategy for any team short of manpower. “It’s a safe way to prevent odd man rushes,” Cleary said of the strategy.
The Rams are excited to be in the win column, and believe it can only get better from here. “It was good to get the win under our belt… it was a team we should have beaten,” Cleary said. The team hopes their momentum, combined with their defensive strategy and talented offense (the Rams are currently averaging 4.3 goals per game; most NHL teams average between 2 and 3 goals per game) can propel them to a winning record.
Despite the team’s successful offense, a modest Cleary maintains that the team’s successes will rest on their defensive system. “We’re not a flashy, light up the lamp kind of team. Right now we’re trying to figure out our identitiy.”