Sports

Men’s hockey ends season with victory over Concordia

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Article by: Abi Safago, Staff Wrtier

Photos by: Abi Safago

The Saints marched on with the men’s hockey team for their last home game of the season. The team finished the game with a 6-2 win against Concordia University on Friday, Feb. 21.

In the first match against Concordia, Aquinas scored one point at the 7:51 mark from sophomore Nick Stockert, assisted by Mike Curran and Ryan Wolfe.

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During the second period, two points were made for both the Aquinas Saints as well as the Concordia Cardinals.

The first goal in the second period was at the 7:56 mark by sophomore Russell Shengulette, with an assist by senior Connor Barta. Less than a minute later, Concordia scored a goal. With just under five minutes left in the period, Nick Long scored with assists from Brandon Schwandt and Kyle Truax. The period ended with another point from Concordia, putting the Saints at a 3-2 lead.

In the final period of the game, the Saints came through with three more points.

About halfway through the period, junior Mike Curran scored his first point of the game with the help of Kyle Truax. Less than two minutes later, Nick Long scored his second point of the game. With just 35 seconds left in the final period, Aquinas freshman Darren Johnson scored in a power play.

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Additionally, in the third period, two players were disqualified from the game. Aquinas Saint Russell Shengulette and Concordia Cardinal Richie Hayward were both taken off the ice due to a fight with just five minutes left in the period.

This game was much more than a great win for Aquinas, it was also the final home game of the season and senior night.

This season, four players were celebrated who will be graduating this year: Connor Barta, Max Berry, Connor Matulaitis, and Steven Nisbet.

For all of the seniors, winning 6-2 and having the support of fellow Saints was a bittersweet night.

“It’s definitely emotional. It was nice to have all the people here to support us. We’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s nice to celebrate here,” Nisbet said.

Over the years, there’s been plenty of games the four have had together.

Barta and Berry have been together as teammates for the past four years and are the only “original freshman” that joined in the fall of 2016.

“I think I’m going to miss Berry because I’ve been playing with him the longest. I’ve been playing with him all four years, so I’m really going to miss that,” Barta said.

Berry kept it humble, saying he would miss all of the guys on the team- and of course, Connor Barta.

There’s also been a lot of memorable moments over the years the seniors are proud of.

For Barta, “being a part of the team that won the D3 national championship as a freshman, that’s my best memory.”

Matulaitis’ most memorable moment is a feat many try to avoid; playing injured. It was memorable for him because it was during the NAIA national championship, where the pressure was at its highest.

Berry said his most memorable moment was just being able to play.

“Best memory for me was just hopping off the bench freshman year. We had a really good team and it was nice to see how the hard work paid off over time. Just hopping off the bench and getting to celebrate was a nice feeling.”

Nisbet mentioned his most memorable moment was playing in a bigger rink, the Van Andel Arena. “I think every season we go in with the expectation that we’re going to compete for a national title, but I think getting to play at the Van Andel was so different and caught us all by surprise. It’s something I think I’ll always remember.”

Each of the graduating players has different goals and aspirations for their future, but all had one thing in common. They wanted to be remembered as a part of the team.

“People can say what they want about me, but I just want to be remembered as a good teammate,” Berry said. “I always tried to have a positive influence and be a good teammate on and off the ice, so I hope that’s something I can be remembered by.”

IMG_4094 Abi Safago is a senior majoring in German and minoring in Journalism and Publications. Abi is also a published writer with Revue Magazine and is passionate about the impacts of bilingualism, sustainability, and the growing arts community in West Michigan.

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