Chris Frangolini Journal Staff
The Suffolk University Men’s Ice Hockey team started the new year off right, with head coach Chris Glionna capturing his 66th win to become the winningest coach in Suffolk hockey history. The occasion was the perfect setup for their second match of the season with the Johnson and Wales Wildcats this past Wednesday.
Coach Glionna had this to say about the Wildcats: “Johnson and Wales has been one of the best teams in our conference over the last few years so we are working very hard to improve our defense for the game. We defeated them 5-4 early in the year and expect another close game.”
The game was physical from the start and Coach was indeed correct that it would be a close game. Nine minutes into the first period the Wildcats struck first. The puck bounced out of goalie Brandon Smolarek’s glove and slowly slid into the net. However, Tim Sprague’s netted Suffolk’s first goal of the game shortly after. Sprague dangled by both defenders and sniped the goalie to tie the score.
Entering the second period, the Rams had a total melt down allowing a goal less than three minutes into the period off a rebound. Yet again, the Rams answered minutes later with a beautiful cross-ice, one-timer to once again tie the game at two goals apiece. Just as momentum seemed to be on Suffolk’s side, Smolarek was caught out of position and let in the Wildcats’ third goal of the game. The Suffolk defense was shaky in the second period, was caught out of position several times, and misplayed the puck, leading to a wide open pass out-front of the net, for the Wildcats fourth goal of the game, and third of the period. As the period came to a conclusion, things were looking good for the Wildcats leading 4-2, and capitalizing off of Suffolk’s mistakes.
The third and final period arrived and the Rams came out of the locker room determined. After all, they were being dominated on home ice. Just 49 seconds into the period, forward Tyler Murray notched a goal and brought Suffolk closer to tying the game. With Suffolk now trailing 5-3, a controversial goal was waved off because the referee had lost sight of the puck. That goal would have cut the deficit to 5-4, and definitely frustrated the team. But the resilient Rams battled back and scored 15 seconds later. Suffolk had now brought the deficit to 5-4. The fore-checking of the Rams provided the key spark to the Rams staying in the game, and with a little less than five minutes reaming Tim Sprague’s netted his second goal of the game, tying the game at five.
The Suffolk Rams never lead in the contest, but they battled back and stayed in the game. The game concluded in overtime at 5-5 apiece. The team never gave up and fought to stay alive. Kudos to Smolarek for saving the shots that mattered, and giving his team an opportunity to stay in the contest.
Eight of the remaining nine games are conference games and Coach Glionna says, “Every game is very important. I expect the team to focus on each game one at a time. We need to be the hardest working team in our conference each night. How we finish in these games will determine the success of the team.”