Lafayette’s Club Ice Hockey team began its conference play last weekend by hosting Alvernia and Bucknell at the Steel Ice Center in Bethlehem, Pa. The Leopards went 1-1 for the weekend, beating Alvernia 10-1 on Saturday and then falling to Bucknell 2-0 on Sunday.
“It was a good start, and we have a long season ahead of us,” junior center and co-president Harrison Lapides said. “We wanted to beat Bucknell, but we played with them, so I think we’re content for now.”
Against Alvernia, the game had a physical start with 15 penalties between the two teams within the first half. According to Lapides, the Leopards were doing well moving the puck around and finding open ice despite the rough play.
“We’re still learning how to work together, but we came out flying,” Lapides said. “We scored four goals in the first period, right off the bat.”
On Sunday, strong defensive efforts from both teams kept the game close. At the end of the first half, the score was still tied at 0-0. In the second half, the Bison were able to score the first goal of the game off of a rush and then score again on a power play.
“Their goalie played really well,” Lapides said. “We were putting the shots on and getting the rebounds, but he really kept us out of the net. Next time we play them, we have to work on moving the puck around more and jamming in those rebounds.”
The Leopards have been practicing together since the first week of school to prepare for their season. The team practices twice a week on the ice and has one off-ice day where they play floor hockey or lift.
“We lost a few key pieces from our team last year, but we’ve filled those gaps in pretty well,” Lapides said. “I think we’re feeling pretty good about where we are. Teamwork makes the dream work.”
According to Lapides, the freshmen have really stepped up to fill the skates of the 2018 graduates. Freshman center James Kiley and winger Alex Lopresti have been strong assets to the Leopards offense, while freshman goalie Jack Eselius let in only three goals in the last two games.
“This year, there are four new teams in our league,” Harrison said. “There will be new competition, which we’re excited for.”
The team plays each team in their conference twice and then will head to a conference championship tournament in late February. Last year, the Leopards won the Championship title. The conference, Division II of the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference, includes Lafayette College, Bucknell University, Drexel University, Alvernia University, Bloomsburg University, Kutztown University, Susquehanna University, Penn State University at Harrisburg and La Salle University.
The Leopards face Rowan University in a non-conference game tonight at 7:30 p.m at the Steel Ice Center.