Four-Goal Run Sparks Colonels to 6-3 Win over Johnson & Wales

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Dec. 3, 2017 //
The Colonels rode a four-goal run to capture a 6-3 victory over Johnson & Wales University in the fourth annual Teddy Bear Toss.

As a tradition, after the first Curry goal, fans throw teddy bears onto the ice that later get donated to children for Christmas.  The idea originated from Jake Heisinger, a recent Curry alumnus, who wanted to do something for the kids in hospitals around the holiday season.

This year, all of the teddy bears collected will be donated to Christmas In The City, which is a non-profit organization that helps give families near or below the poverty line a holiday that they deserve.

“What makes ours different from a lot of the ones that you see is that it’s completely organized by our players, they don’t just show up and play in the game,” said Colonels’ head coach TJ Manastersky on why the event is so unique.

Six minutes into the opening period, freshman Kasper Kjellkvist buried the puck in the back of the net and the bears finally went flying. The goal seemed to curtail some nerves as well after Curry had given up a goal just two minutes prior to Wildcat forward Ryan Sete.

However, that goal did more than just send teddy bears over the glass; it started a run that changed the game.

Adam Valadao got credit for an assist on Kjellkvist’s goal and did not stop there. He went on to assist Brandon Zajicek and Shane Tracy, who both capitalized on their chances at the end of the first period and five minutes into the second.

Lionel Mauron added an unassisted goal to open the scoring in the middle period and the Colonels held a 4-1 advantage immediately following the bears’ decent to the ice.

Manastersky felt that his team was probably the better team, which was displayed on the scoreboard, but one area they could improve on is their penalties.  Curry racked up 10 penalty minutes on five infractions while giving up a short-handed goal.

“I think it’s just the discipline in playing the way we want to play for a full 60 minutes,” said Manastersky.  “I think we played well in spurts, but if we want to be a good team night in and night out then we need to have more discipline in how we want to play.”

Part of that includes closing out the game.

As Mike Emrick always says, “The cursed goals come in the first minute, and the last,” and that was put on display following a mid-ice turnover. Alan Boozer raced into the Colonels’ zone and put one passed Frank Cundiff with only 45 seconds showing on the clock.

However, by that point, Kjellkvist and Tracy had already lit the lamp again to register a season-high six goals for Curry for the second time this year.

Tracy finished with a pair of goals and a pair of assists, sitting atop the box score with Valadao, who racked up four assists. Those co-captains have also helped the freshman Kjellkvist, their line-mate, ease into this transition and it clearly has been effective.

The trio has registered the most amounts of points on the season with Valadao’s 16 and Tracy’s 15 leading the way before Kjellkvist’s 7 earns him a four-way tie for third.

“He’s a smart, skilled, big offensive player, and he’s going to be a really good Division III player,” said Manastersky.

Saturday’s win secures the season sweep of Johnson & Wales as a 4-2 decision from Thursday in Providence brought the Colonels to .500 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference at 3-3.

Now Curry sits at 5-4-1 overall and 4-3-1 in the CCC and will not return to action until Friday, Dec. 8 when they start their home-and-home series with the Nichols Bison before a three-week long holiday break.

The puck is scheduled to drop at 6:50 p.m. at the Max Ulin Memorial Rink.

Colonels Drop Opener With First-Place Endicott, 4-2

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Nov. 18, 2017 //

The Colonels dropped the first game of their home-and-home series with first-place Endicott College, 4-2.

The Gulls entered Max Ulin Memorial Rink on Friday at 4-1 on the season, and ranked 11th nationally in the Division III hockey poll, proving to be a real test for the young Curry squad.

Two goals in the first period gave Endicott an early lead but the Colonels didn’t quit.  Thirty-three seconds into the second period, Curry answered with one of their own when defenseman Mack Heisinger found the back of the net off a slap shot.

Despite the score, head coach TJ Manastersky felt that it was a “fairly even” contest and part of that was the Colonels’ ability to bounce back.

“Our resiliency was good,” Manastersky explained. “There were times in the game when it could’ve gotten out of hand and we kept sticking with it and we were always within striking distance.”

Late in the second period, the Gulls tacked on another goal when an interception at mid-ice created a 2-on-1 breakaway that forward Daniel Kucerovy was able to capitalize on, making it a 3-1 game.  Manastersky said that heading into the contest, one of the things they wanted to limit was Endicott’s odd-man rushes, but ultimately, the Gulls scored on two of them.

“They are a very good team that has a high depth of skill,” said Manastersky.  “Even guys on their fourth line can score given the opportunity, and that was kind of the difference tonight.”

Both special team units played well for the Colonels over the three periods.  They successfully killed off eight minutes of penalties while also scoring on one of their four power-play opportunities.

That goal came with nearly two minutes remaining in the game when Curry’s goaltender Frank Cundiff was pulled giving the Colonels an extra man on the ice. Defenseman Jaret Kup was able to take advantage of that opportunity and score his second goal this year.

However, there was not quite enough time for a full comeback and Curry dropped to 3-3-1 on the season after the final horn. But the Colonels will head to Endicott this afternoon for the second game of the series after a good learning experience for a young team.

“Sometimes when you have a young team facing a really good team, you have to get in the battle,” Manastersky noted. “You gotta throw some punches, take some punches and realize they are normal and just like you.”

The puck is set to drop between Curry and Endicott at 4 p.m. at the Raymond J. Bourque Arena in Beverly, Mass.

Curry Hockey Dominates UMass Dartmouth, 5-1

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Oct. 28, 2017 //

The Colonels opened their season on Friday night with a convincing 5-1 win over UMass Dartmouth that featured an impressive 36 save performance from freshman goalie Frank Cundiff.

The scoring started early and often at Max Ulin Memorial Rink when forward Adam Valadao capitalized on a power-play to make it a 1-0 game not even two minutes into the game. A couple minutes later Valadao struck once again on another power-play after defensemen Jarret Kup chased down a loose puck in the corner and found Valadao streaking towards the net.

Then a few minutes later, forward Jordan Williamson scored on a short-handed chance to extend the lead to three.

Penalties were a big factor for both teams as there was one less skater on the ice for each goal in the game besides Colonels’ forward Joseph Dibenedetto’s goal in the second period, his first as a part of the program.

Head coach TJ Manastersky feels if his team gets that many power-play opportunities they are going to make opponents pay.

“If you have a good power play you’re going to score a couple goals a night,” said Manastersky. “They started well and they are going to have some confidence.”

Despite capitalizing on their power-play opportunities, the Colonels actually racked up more penalties with 18 minutes on 9 infractions compared to the Corsairs’ 14 minutes on 7 penalties.

“Well I didn’t agree with a lot of them, that’s the truth,” said Manastersky. “But really the only penalty that is acceptable is one that takes away a scoring chance for the other team and took a lot tonight that did not fit that criteria.”

The unexpected star of the night was freshman goalie Frank Cundiff who only found out on Thursday night that he was going to start.

Cundiff registered 36 saves but lost the shutout in the third period off of a one timer by Corsairs’ forward Mike Sones.

“The defense definitely bailed me out in the first period,” explained Cundiff. “I was a little nervous because I had those first game jitters but they bailed me out, they let me see the puck and I was able to control the game.”

Despite the stellar performance, Manastersky isn’t ready to name Cundiff as the starter moving forward citing that it’s too early to make that decision.

The Colonels will go on the road to take on UMass Boston on Saturday with the puck dropping at 4:00 p.m.

Curry Hockey Set to Start New Season

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Oct. 26, 2017 //

The Curry College men’s ice hockey team is trying to accomplish something it hasn’t done since 2011: put together consecutive winning seasons.

Last year, the Colonels enjoyed a 14-10-2 season, good for fourth place in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) and a home playoff game. However, they were knocked out in the first round of the tournament by the University of New England, a team they beat in both regular-season matchups.

Although it was a bit of a stunning defeat, sixth-year head coach TJ Manastersky said he couldn’t let the team dwell on it for too long.

“The reality is that every team’s season ends disappointingly except for one,” Manastersky explained. “But what you do when the dust settles is try to take positives from it and learn from the things that you need to get better at.”

One area of improvement could be starting off games better, as Curry trailed in 11 of its contests and only came away with three wins.

The Colonels will look a little different this season after losing 11 seniors from a year ago, including top point-scorer Tyler Vankleef, who racked up 15 goals and 15 assists. Jake Heisinger will also be missed after he registered the most assists on the team with 20.

In addition, three-year starter Brett Sinclair leaves the goal posts vacant after carrying a .900 save percentage and a 12-9 record. Although every team goes through turnover year to year, this type of production will be a challenge to replace.

“When you lose a player that scored 15 goals, you’re probably going to feel that at some point. But you’re counting on guys to emerge,” said Manastersky. “There were some guys last year that I think are capable of doing more and we think that they will.”

Junior Lionel Mauron scored the second-most points last season with 25. Seniors Shane Tracy and Adam Valadao were right behind him with 23 apiece.

Valadao faceoff
Adam Valadao (14) will look to add on to his 53 career points for the Colonels // Image credit: Curry Athletics

Another player to keep an eye on this season is junior Zachery White. Although he didn’t have a lot of production last season over 22 games, Manastersky believes he is a player who will be able to create many offensive chances.

It is still unclear who will be the next man up between the pipes for the Colonels. Senior Chris James, junior Spencer Cookson, and freshman Frank Cundiff are all vying for the starting spot, but Cookson was the only one to see time last year, appearing in five games while getting two starts.

Manastersky declined to reveal who will be the starter for Curry’s home opener on Friday.

Naturally, the Colonels will be a young team but Manastersky feels that strong leadership will guide them. Seniors Phil Kiss and Tracy will serve as captains, and classmates Ryan Fitzgerald, Jarret Kup and Valadao will don A patches, serving as assistant captains.

Kiss also
Phil Kiss (22) enters his fourth season with the Colonels, having already played in 69 games // Image Credit: Curry Athletics

The 2017-2018 version of Curry hockey will feature 11 new players, including 10 freshmen. Tracy noted there may be some growing pains early on, but they will have to find a way through them.

“With a lot of new guys, it might take a little while to adjust completely compared to last year, but I think as the season goes on we are going to get stronger,” explained Tracy. “We are going to be playing our best hockey at the end of the season, push into the playoffs, and make a serious run.”

Kiss shares those same playoff aspirations, as his goals for the team are simple.

“Make it to the conference championship, win it, and get into the tournament,” said Kiss. “It’s going to be hard work and we are getting better every day.”

Despite the CCC preseason coaches’ poll ranking the Colonels as only the fifth-best team in the conference, Curry is eager to make a statement.

Shane Tracy
Shane Tracy racked up 19 points in conference play last year // Image credit: Curry Athletics

“We got some freshmen that nobody even knows exist,” Manastersky elaborated. “They’ve been in North America for six weeks; they don’t know what we are playing with.”

This young Curry team has playoffs on its mind, but to get there it’ll have to do something it hasn’t done in six years: finish over .500 for two seasons in a row. However, co-captains Tracy and Kiss have all the faith in the world in their teammates.

“I think with the guys we have, it’s 100-percent possible,” said Kiss.

“Oh, guaranteed,” echoed Tracy.

The 2017-2018 campaign kicks off Friday, Oct. 27, at 6:50 p.m. when UMass-Dartmouth pays a visit to the Max Ulin Memorial Rink in Milton.

Corvese Registers Five Touchdowns to Lift Colonels Over Nichols, 46-16

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Oct. 21, 2017 //

The Colonels rode quarterback Alex Corvese’s five-touchdown performance to a 46-16 win over conference foe Nichols College on Homecoming Weekend.

Saturday afternoon was the second game in a row where Curry put up at least 40 points amidst its recent three-game win streak.

Corvese tossed a pair of touchdowns in the first half, one to sophomore Nick Villanueva and another to junior Phil Lebel, giving the Colonels an 18-10 lead at the break. However, it was in the second half where Curry’s high-powered offense really took off.

The Colonels went on a 21-point run which started with an eight-yard touchdown run from Corvese with just over 11 minutes remaining in the 3rd. Lebel caught the next two on 12 and 10-yard throws to extend the Curry lead to 39-10 with almost all of the 4th left to play.

Corvese has been the key cog in the Colonels’ offense this year as he now has 17 total touchdowns on the year. The senior co-captain from Cranston, R.I. credited the offense’s big day to the coaching staff in getting the players prepared.

“We had a really good understanding of what they would be running defensively so we knew how to attack them,” said Corvese.

The defense also played exceptionally well, limiting the Bison to 16 points while forcing four turnovers.  After the game, Curry head coach Skip Bandini said that the key was stopping quarterback/receiver Tony Martignoli, who is an athlete that Nichols likes to move all over the field.

Junior Joe Patti and senior Dylan Gramuglia were able to do just that and get in Martignoli’s head by way of an intercepted pass, accounting for just half of the Colonels’ defensive turnovers.

Senior Stephen Grogan forced a fumble in the 3rd quarter and classmate Jack O’Rourke picked it up before freshman Aaron Brooks grabbed another interception from Cam Hamilton this time, to ice the game with under a minute left.

The win puts Curry in a three-way tie for first place atop the Commonwealth Coast Conference standings with Salve Regina and Western New England who also stand at 2-0 within the conference.  Their overall record climbs to 6-1, the Colonels’ best start to a season since 2009.

Coach Bandini recognized that this group of players is special but he speculated as to why there hasn’t been a remarkable start like this in eight years.

“One reason is the economy, we lost a lot of kids over the years that couldn’t afford the school anymore,” Bandini noted.  “But I think the merit money that they have at Curry College now sets kids up to be successful and stay here for four years.

“The administration addressed that issue because they want to win so I tip my hat to the athletic director, the president of the college, dean of admissions. When we win, it’s really a credit to all those folks that have worked behind the scenes,” Bandini explained.

Next Saturday, the Colonels will be traveling to Beverly, Mass. to take on Endicott College who is 1-6 on the season and 0-2 in conference play. The Gulls will be coming off a 41-14 defeat to the fellow first-place Salve Regina Seahawks.