By Matthew Calamia
The Stony Brook Men’s Ice Hockey team has qualified for the American Collegiate Hockey Association national championship tournament in Gates Mills, Ohio.
The top 16 teams in the ACHA, a league formed in 1991 for teams across the country that are not funded by their college or university, will meet in Ohio from March 14-18 to crown a champion.
In his first season as Stony Brook head coach, former professional player in the New York Rangers organization Buzz DesChamps led the Seawolves to a 21-11 record, including five wins over top 10 teams, after a disappointing 0-5 start. They finished 2nd in their division, and 14th overall in the nation.
Coach DesChamps describes his team’s style of play as high tempo. “We have a lot of good scorers on our team,” said DesChamps. “Angelo is a good scorer, and so is [forward] Chris Ryan.
“We like to forecheck hard, and we like our defenseman to carry the puck a lot. That’s the system, and it seems to work for us.”
The Angelo that DesChamps is referring to is senior co-captain Angelo Serse, who led the team this season with 49 points in just 30 games, and feels confident facing the Seawolves’ first round opponent, 3rd ranked Delaware.
“We feel really confident,” said Serse from inside the Seawolves’ locker room before a 10:30 p.m. practice at the Rinx. “In the first round we have Delaware, and we beat them, then lost to them in overtime, so we feel really comfortable going in there. We just have to be focused, and hopefully we have a good playoff this coming weekend, and then into nationals.”
Coach DesChamps agrees with Serse on their opening round matchup. “You have to take one game at a time,” he said. “I think we match up real well against Delaware. Our goaltender [Derek] Stevens has just been excellent. He’s held the whole team together.
“I think we have better goaltending, better defenseman, and maybe two lines a little better than them. Anything can happen in a hockey game.”
Senior defenseman and assistant captain Dan Capizzuto believes that after the team’s slow start, followed by the run they had later in the season, they’ve been the top dog on campus. “Many would argue that we were the best team at Stony Brook, period,” said Capizzuto. “There was no other team that could compete with us; in our league or at that school.
“We had our ups and downs, but we pulled though, and we’re going to nationals,” he said with pride.
Stony Brook has plenty of reason to be confident. This season, the Seawolves sent five players to the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association all-star game, including Serse, Capizzuto and goaltender Derek Stevens. Serse and Capizzuto have also been the interest of scouts from the National Hockey League.
Although not funded by Stony Brook, many in the community have shown their support for the Seawolves this season, which play their home games at the Rinx in Hauppauge, which is ten miles from campus. According to the Seawolves’ Public Relation’s Director Kris LaGrange, the Stony Brook hockey team had more total attendance in fifteen home games than men and women’s basketball combined; both of which play directly on campus.
Capizzuto said having such support from both students and the community helped the team through the season. “We get the students that drive the ten or fifteen minutes from campus to the games,” he said. “We also get people from the community. A lot of little kids that love hockey come to see the heart and the atmosphere. It’s good to touch people’s lives like that, and give them some sort of entertainment, other than just watching the Islanders on television. It’s a step in the right direction.”