By Jacob Rzempoluch, Sports Editor
On Feb. 12, the Saint Vincent College Polar Bearcats celebrated their seniors before a match against the Akron Zips. The SVC club hockey team entered their final home game of the season on an eight-game win streak, hoping to continue riding the hot streak into the playoffs. Despite beginning the season with 3 straight losses, the Polar Bearcats had gone 12-1 since Nov. 6 until the Akron game.
The game started out evenly matched, with SVC responding to two early Akron goals with goals from senior Colten McCutcheon and junior Anthony Rendulich. The game was tied 2-2 entering the second period; a goal by McCutcheon and another by sophomore Jacob Holtzman sandwiched two Zips goals to keep the game tight. Akron would pull ahead in the third quarter, finding the back of the net three times in three minutes, with the last two goals being scored ten seconds apart. The Polar Bearcats were not able to fight back despite totaling 46 shots to the Zips’ 31, and suffered their first loss in over two months.
Before the start of the game, the four senior members of the Polar Bearcats were honored. Forward Tristan Moyer, finance major; goalie Shane Stone, criminal justice major; center Colten McCutcheon, finance major; and left wing Mitchell Knecht, marketing major, skated out to the center of the Palmer Imaging Arena to cheers from their teammates and families. Each senior athlete spoke highly of their time playing hockey with the Saint Vincent team.
“It’s just a great experience, anyone who’s thinking about coming, I would definitely encourage them to; it’s competitive level, and great coaches, great players,” McCutcheon, the captain of the hockey team, said.
During the pregame senior introductions, McCutcheon was noted as one of the most consistent performers for Saint Vincent during his time with the team.
Stone came to SVC to play lacrosse, but quickly joined the Polar Bearcats. “It was just a bonus that [Saint Vincent] had hockey,” Stone said. Balancing competing on two teams can be difficult, but according to Stone, “if you just put your mind to your work it’s pretty easy.”
Knecht also found a home with the Polar Bearcats. “Coming into college I didn’t know if I wanted to play, so I took a year off, but then I learned more about the program here and how it’s really a family atmosphere, so I joined my sophomore year,” Knecht said.
Although a snapped winning streak stings, the Polar Bearcats have been focused on winning this season’s playoffs. The College Hockey East Division 3 playoffs begin on March 3, and SVC has high hopes.
“We want to win finals, absolutely,” Moyer said. “My freshman and my junior year were the only years they even had finals… we went to the finals both times and lost. I’m trying to get a finals win before I graduate.”
This is the first season that SVC has competed in CHE Division 3; previously, the team competed in CHE Division 4. The jump in classification has not phased the Polar Bearcats, who plan to play their best hockey of the season en route to a championship.