Coming off its third-consecutive ESCHL conference championship, the Stony Brook Seawolves men’s hockey team looks to reach their pinnacle—a National Championship.
A 30-5 regular season record earned the Seawolves the number five seed in the upcoming ACHA Tournament. This means they will get underway on Saturday, March 7, at 7 p.m. from Cleveland, Ohio, against the University of Rhode Island Rams.
With it being a single-elimination tournament, it will quickly come and go; there will be no time for slip-ups or do-overs.
“Coming off our Final Four run last year,” sophomore forward Bobby Guidal said, “we learned a lot of what it takes to ultimately win a National Championship.”
That sentiment was echoed by junior goaltender Brendan Jones, who added, “If we won, it would be the greatest damn feeling I’ve ever experienced and I know that for a fact.”
That is not to say that there is not the potential for some butterflies.
Guidal agrees, “Going into a huge tournament such as this is bound to bring out a whole bunch of emotions, but for the most part, I think we are a collected and confident group.”
Jones brings a different perspective to the table, “my mind never wanders and I’m locked in from start to finish.”
While the national tournament usually leads to opponents teams have never met, the Seawolves are actually quite familiar with their first-round opponent.
The Rams were one of three teams all season long to actually puncture the Seawolves’ record, beating them 5-1 in their first matchup of the year back on Oct. 3.
From that game on, Stony Brook would win the next three against the Rams by a combined final score of 11-4.
The last time the Seawolves actually lost a game goes all the way back to over a month ago against the consensus number one team in the nation, the Arizona State Sun Devils, on Jan. 22.
The two teams met on three separate occasions during the regular season, with ASU handing the Seawolves two of their losses.
A potential collision with the Sun Devils would come in the semi-finals on Monday, March 9.
It would be essential to get off to a quick start, as even in the game that Stony Brook took down the Sun Devils, they trailed from the get-go.
However, there will be a small chink in the armor, as Sun Devils netminder Robert Levin will miss the tournament with a torn ACL.
It was announced earlier this season that Arizona State would be transitioning to the Division-I level in the upcoming seasons.
This has invariably led to talks of the Seawolves and how they may fit into the same picture.
“If we were to bring the cup back to Stony Brook, I think the exposure and coverage that we would be getting would make it impossible for those talks to remain under wraps,” Jones said, “You can only keep something tied up for so long until it gets so big it breaks free.”
A new Division I team would be thrown into many discussions within the athletic department, as the expansion of Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, which houses the football, soccer and lacrosse teams, seems inevitable.
After five months of fighting for respect from the rest of the country, the Seawolves have one last chance to seal the deal.