[Written by Sean Nowak]
Losing is not something the John Carroll University club hockey team has been used to this season. After finishing the regular season with a school best 24-12 record, the Blue Streaks really wanted to prove themselves in the College Hockey Mid-America playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Unfortunately, the Blue Streaks (24-13) fell to the Pittsburgh Panthers, 5-1, this past Saturday at the Blade Runners Ice Complex in Pittsburgh, Pa.
After receiving a bye in the first round of the tournament and after an extra night of rest, the Blue Streaks were eager to get on the ice and prove themselves against a Pitt opponent they had swept in their two meetings during the regular season.
Even though the Blue Streaks ended up on the losing end, it was still a hard-fought game by JCU. The lone goal for the Blue Streaks was scored by junior Sean Lattal, as the Blue Streaks couldn’t find any offensive firepower when it was most needed. JCU struggled early to get things going, and uncharacteristic turnovers later cost them and led to goals by Pitt.
The Blue Streaks’ lack of execution on special teams played a huge role in the game as JCU was 0-6 on their power-play opportunities. Meanwhile, the Panther did connect on their opportunities as they finished the game 2-6 on power plays.
“We didn’t take advantage of the mistakes they made,” said junior John Orr. “Going 0-6 on the power play is unacceptable. Special teams played a huge factor in this game.”
Despite the earlier-than-expected exit from the playoffs, the Blue Streaks and their fans can reflect on this season with a sense of pride.
“The season and six-game win streak were great,” said head coach Chris Wilk. “It’s unfortunate our season had to end like this, but I am very proud of this team and our seniors.”
Adding to the accolades, senior Dan Geiger surpassed the 100-point mark for his career, finishing with 106 total points. Senior Geoff Abrahams finished his career as the all-time leading point scorer in JCU history, recording a stunning 165 points in 135 career games.
Despite losing four seniors due to graduation, the Blue Streaks look to have a strong offseason and prepare for their ultimate goal of qualifying for the national tournament next season.
Overall, this season was a step in the right direction for the Blue Streaks club hockey program, as JCU qualified for the CHMA playoffs for the first time in program history, along with recording the most wins in a single season in program history.
“We have a lot of young talent returning next year, so we look to continue right where we left off and build upon that,” said Orr.