Last weekend, the men’s club ice hockey team earned two consecutive wins. On Saturday, Feb. 2, the Leopards hosted La Salle at the Steel Ice Center in Bethlehem, Pa., before traveling to Bloomsburg University on Sunday, Feb. 3.
According to junior Harrison Lapides, the team felt good going up against La Salle, whom they beat earlier this season 12-1.
“We were pretty confident,” Lapides said. “We’ve beaten them before, but we knew we had to go into the game playing hard.”
Although the Leopards netted the first goal of the game, La Salle responded quickly and built a 4-2 lead before the Leopards regained the lead.
“We went up early and scored, but they battled back and we were down before we came back and scored some more,” Lapides said. “It felt good to know that we were down but we could fight back and come out with the win.”
According to Lapides, seniors Simon Rybansky and Ted Granbois had standout performances, each netting several goals over the weekend.
The Leopards defeated La Salle 5-4, earning them their first win of 2019. Coming off their win, the team went into Sunday’s matchup against Bloomsburg with confidence and determination.
“The first win really boosted things for us,” Lapides said. “We went into the second game feeling like we could get the win, and it felt good.”
The Leopards gained the lead early, and held it for the entirety of the game. The team also emerged victorious after a December matchup with Bloomsburg, 9-4.
“Against Bloomsburg, we came out a lot better as a team,” Lapides said. “We made good passes, spread the ice really well and made lanes, and made sure we didn’t let up.”
The Leopards finished with a 5-1 win over Bloomsburg, improving their conference record to 7-5 thus far.
“We had a big performance from our freshman goalie, Jack Eselius,” said Lapides. “It was his first game back for us and he played really well. There was really good goaltending and really good team play.”
This weekend the Leopards face Drexel and Bucknell, both away contests.
“We have our two toughest games this weekend, Drexel and Bucknell,” said Lapides. “We’re just going to try to come out with the same effort we had last weekend. We’re going to focus on the little things, not get frustrated with the refs.”
The team has been emphasizing improving their defense and fitness this season, Lapides said.
“We need to make sure we play all the way through the whole game,” Lapides said. “We’re working to make sure everybody is contributing on defense. Getting back and playing all three zones is important.”
According to Lapides, the teams’ strength is their offense.
“We have pretty good offensive flurries as a team,” Lapides said. “We’re really consistent with breaking the puck out, getting it deep, and putting on offensive pressure. We get a lot of shots and rebound on net.”
With just four games left in conference play, the Leopards are looking to earn their spot in the playoffs. Of the nine teams in the league, six qualify for the playoffs.
“We just want to go out there and cement our spot in the playoffs,” added Lapides. “A couple of the teams we’re playing are right in our mix. We’ve beaten them before and we can do it again.”