Bridgewater, MA -
2018-2019 Season in Review: Bridgewater State Men’s Ice Hockey
Joe Vinay – President and Senior goaltender
The season began with the selection of a new captain, Senior Dylan Burns, as well as 3 assistant captains, Junior Christian Cellini, Sophomore Ian Peterson, and Sophomore Corey Woodward. Summer captain’s practices were held between the Tinsely Center fields and Bridgewater Ice Arena, the home of both Men’s and Women’s ice hockey programs. The Men’s team was settling into their newly built locker room, with many contributions made from team members through materials, tools, and in person help.
After a difficult week of tryouts, the team was selected by head coach Mike Monahan, as well as assistant coach Rick Duddy, for a preseason game against Providence College. The Bears were able to pull away in the 3rd period with key contributions from new members all around, as the Bears had recently lost a number of significant members to graduation. The Bears were able to translate this early success into momentum for the start of the season, winning the first 6 of 7 games. Some of the highlights included a hotly contested game against West Point, an early season tournament held by Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where the Bears were able to secure a 2nd/3rd place finish, and a win over rival Eastern Connecticut State at home.
Settling into the season, some new faces began to emerge as key contributors for the Bears. Freshman Tayber Labonte of Marion, MA., who’s twin brother Zak became a staple in defense, lead the team in points early in the season, including the game winner in a number of games. Another Freshman, Liam Comeau of Wachusett, became a contributor on offense, quickly adapting to the speed of play in the ACHA. The good times would come to a brief end, as the Bears faced two quick losses to League opponents in Bentley University and Connecticut College. On the bounce, the Bears were able to pick up a crucial win against UMass-Lowell, eventual runners-up in their conference. Key contributions were made in goal by Cellini, who’s stellar play always had the Bears in a position to fight for a chance to win. Defenseman Andrew Kreamer of Lynn, MA.., and Tom McCuddy of Bridgewater, MA, anchored a strong defense that night, as well as for the year.
The Bears faced their toughest challenge to that point just two weeks later against rival Roger Williams University, for a two-game series. A hard-fought tie was earned away from home, before a difficult loss was suffered back at BIA. The Bears struggled to regain their torrid form from the start of the season and slid into some tough losses into the final stretch of the first semester.
The new semester brought better times, as the Bears were able to take down a Providence College team that had handed them a tough loss at the close of the previous semester, as well as beating an up-and-coming Stonehill team, on the rise to secure a spot amongst ACHA D2 membership. Juniors Tom Martin and Mike Jessman were able to take down the hard-playing Pilots.
As playoffs neared, the Bears began to waver in their form. A hard-fought overtime loss to Marist College would be the lone highlight of the season, as the Bears fought hard but came up short against ECONN away and CONN College away. Junior Corey Woodward set his sights on an eventual playoff game in Fall River against Roger Williams.
“We felt good, since early in the season we felt evenly matched with them in Fall River, and proved that if we brought it, we can skate with them. I wanted to challenge the guys to beat the best to be the best, and I felt like it was there for us to have that.”
Woodward wouldn’t miss this opportunity, but the Bears would come just short in the final game of the season against Roger Williams in the NECHA playoffs. A season of true highs and lows, the Bears wrapped the season up with a final record of 11-15-1, and a high point ranking of #20 in the Northeast in November. Corey Woodward lead the team in goals and points with an overall haul of 13 goals and 23 points, with Mike Jessman leading the way for assists with a team leading 12. Christian Cellini had a phenomenal season in goal, playing a total of 1236 minutes, and appearing in 20 games for the Bears.
With captain’s practices already being planned, the Bears look to bounce back quickly from a tough season against tough competition to reclaim a spot in the playoffs, as well as challenge for a place in regionals. With a young group and an emerging core of key contributors, backed by a solid back bone in defense and goal, the Bears are sure to make a resurgence under Coach Monahan.
Article courtesy of intern Joe Vinay (BSU Class of 2019, men's ice hockey president & goalie)