In recent years the Stony Brook hockey club has always had players who could provide scoring. But, this year it is the team’s improved defensive unit that seems to have taken the program to the next level.
Before the season began three key additions were made to the Stony Brook defense corps. Sophomore Kevin Kavanagh, freshman Alex Miller and freshman Mike Cartwright were all brought on to the Seawolves this year, and have all been major contributors for the club.
“We brought in three guys who have helped changed the whole complexion of our team,” head coach Chris Garofalo said. “They have really helped us develop a solid core on defense.”
All three blueliners have seen action in 32 of the team’s 33 regular season games this year, and have played large roles in helping stabilize a defensemen group that has struggled at times in the past.
“Our defense is a lot stronger, than in the three previous years I’ve been here,” forward Wes Hawkins said. “We’re letting in less goals, and that’s what you gotta do to win.”
Stony Brook has given up 90 goals this season, the fewest amount given up by any team in their conference. Last season the Seawolves gave up 14 more goals in two less games.
“We’ve felt all season that we’ve had one of the best d-core’s in the league if not the best,” Miller said. “We had great guys that came back, and great new guys, and they’ve seemed to complement each other well.”
Miller, who grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., has played alongside junior defenseman Matt Miano for a good portion of the season. The two players have been frequently sent on the ice to oppose other team’s top scoring lines, and have become arguably the club’s best shutdown pair.
Kavanagh and Cartwright, who are both from Long Island, have proven to be another reliable defense pairing for Stony Brook. Kavanagh has given Stony Brook 25 points from the blueline this season, while Cartwright has proven to be a reliable stay at home defenseman.
“Kavanagh is definitely more of an offensive defensemen,” Cartwright said, “I let him jump up in the play more, and I try and stay home and limit the chances they have against us.”
A major reason why Stony Brook feels confident going into next weekend’s ACHA Men’s Division I National Championships next weekend is because of the quality and depth they believe they have on the backend this year.
“We have a nice group back there where you’re not really worried about anyone,” forward Dan Cassano said. “You know who ever is back there is gonna be able to get the job done.”
The three defensemen will all compete at Nationals for the first time this Saturday in Delaware. And all of them seem to be pleased with how their first year with Stony Brook has gone.
“It’s been great to be part of an organization that’s been doing well,” Miller said. “I’ve been very fortunate this year.”