The Montclair State University men’s ice hockey team suffered a tough loss Friday night against Sacred Heart University, 5-2. Senior forward Lucas Prospero and senior left wing Michael Buckel scored the two goals for the Red Hawks, while freshman goaltender Danny Porth saved 35 out of 40 shots he faced. Senior defenseman Daniel Diner also picked up an assist for both of the Red Hawks’ goals.
“I thought even though we didn’t get the result we wanted, everyone kept working hard and doing their job,” Porth said. “Even when it became apparent winning was no longer realistically possible.”
The scoring was started off by Sacred Heart with a goal 5:10 into the first period by freshman defenseman Ryan Gawricki, and then another 9:47 in by freshman forward Michael Zdanowicz. Montclair State answered with a goal by Buckel at 11:24, assisted by Diner. Buckel also had an attempt at a penalty shot with 2:47 left in the first but could not score.
The second period proved to be pretty even for both sides, although Montclair State started off the period strong with a few faceoff wins and consistent shots from players, such as freshman forward Will Prinz. The Red Hawks powerplay was strong when Sacred Heart took a holding and bench minor, although they could not seem to score on either.
Sacred Heart managed to score the only goal of the period at 13:33, when Montclair State took a holding minor. After this, Montclair State kept Sacred Heart out of the net, with consistent saves by Porth and physical play by players, such as freshman forward Ryan Martinez. The Red Hawks continued to get shots off throughout the period and ended it with 1:04 left on a Scared Heart holding penalty.
“In my opinion, we had some opportunities but couldn’t capitalize,” Martinez said. “As a young team, our communication was less than ideal leading to mistakes that could’ve been easily solved.”
Martinez explained what the lack of communication did to defending their goals.
“It led to our forecheck being not as well played as previous weekends,” Martinez said. “They took that and had solid opportunities and goals off their rushes.”
After killing the rest of the penalty, Sacred Heart scored another goal to make the score 4-1. Montclair State tried their best to stay in the game with a shot off the crossbar by Prinz, as well as shots by Diner. Prospero then scored a powerplay goal at 12:20, giving the Red Hawks hope they could still pull off a win.
After Sacred Heart started to get physical, Montclair State fought back. This ended up with a few penalties on both sides, three for Sacred Heart and a five-minute major for Buckel. Montclair State could not capitalize on the four on three power play they received, but kept playing hard. Sacred Heart’s fifth goal kept them on top, and the game ended in their favor, 5-2.
“We learned that we cannot take any nights off against opponents ranked lower than us,” Porth said. “Army [West Point] is a very similar team to [Sacred Heart], and we’re going to need to take that loss, learn from our mistakes and play the way we have the whole season for the last couple weeks heading into the playoffs.”
The Red Hawks also lost to Central Connecticut State University on Saturday night 6-4 but have the chance to improve their 7-12 record against University of Massachusetts Amherst on Feb. 1. They will also have a chance to get one last home win on Feb. 8 against Army.