The William Paterson University Pioneers Men’s Ice Hockey team’s season came to an end last week in Florida at the National Tournament. For the second straight season, the Pioneers’ season ended at the hands of Grand Valley State University of Michigan. This year however, the Pioneers made more National progress and the program took another step. For the first time in program history, the Pioneers made it out of pool play and to the Final Four and finished ranked #3 in the country. The Pioneers were successful in Pool Play defeating #4 Virginia Tech 3-1, #3 Lindenwood University 5-2, and #2 Utah State 3-2. The Pioneers received strong team efforts throughout the entire tournament, including big contributions by Captains Shaun McTigue, Matt Hunter, and Anthony Zipfel. Seniors Chris Wynne and Craig Junda provided scoring and logged a lot of minutes throughout the tournament. Seniors Matt Duffy, Jeff Zamor, Lance Beckman provided contributions both defensively and offensively along with key special teams efforts. Aside from the seniors, the young core of Kyle Garlasco, Michael Kim, and Jon Craig had strong performances for their first National Tournament appearance. The coaching staff also notes the goaltending effort of both Matt Braun and Chris Bauer throughout the tournament.
While the team didn’t reach its ultimate goal of a National Championship that was set out in training camp, the coaching staff sees many positives from this season. The team posted an overall record of 29-4-2, the team posted a 3-1 record against Division 1 opponents, the team won the 2012 SECHL Championship with a win over Siena College giving the program a three-peat as SECHL Champions (2010, 2011, and 2012), the program recorded its highest National ranking ever of 3rd in the country, among other accomplishments throughout the year. Coach Ballance commented, “we aren’t happy with how we finished, but we are proud of the efforts and accomplishments by this team. I am proud of how this team came together and stuck together through much adversity throughout the season. This team became part of a three-peat as conference champions and this team took the program to the next level. Last season finishing 6th in the country was progress and this year getting to the next step, the semi-final round and finishing top 3 in the country is a good feat. I feel the program is in good positioning to use this experience and success to take the next step”.
We would like to congratulate the Pioneers on another great season and for putting William Paterson University on the national spotlight once again as the team keeps pursuing its ultimate goal of capturing a National Championship for both William Paterson University and the state of New Jersey.
The Pioneers now head into the offseason graduating 7 players, many being key pieces to be replaced, and changes ahead. Stay tuned for offseason article to be released shortly.