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.

Hockey Skates to 2-2 Tie with Western New England in CCC Action

BY STEVEN SOUSA // Nov. 11, 2017 //

Despite dominating the time of possession in the game, Curry hockey finished in a 2-2 tie with the University of Western New England, Friday night.

The game between the two conference rivals got a little extra physical, resulting in a crossing of a line of sorts from the Golden Bears. Junior forward Zachary White had to be helped off the ice after receiving a blow to the head from freshman defenseman Adamo Giacomin, who garnered a five-minute major and an ejection.

White didn’t return for the rest of the game, putting the already short-handed Colonels down to 10 active forwards for the game.  Head coach TJ Manastersky felt his team did a good job of grinding through the injuries, however.

Later on in that middle period, Curry capitalized on the 5-on-4 power play when defenseman Brandon Zajicek scored off of a rebound to give the Colonels a 1-0 lead.

A mere five minutes later, forward and co-captain Shane Tracy intercepted a puck at mid-ice and deked out a defender before dropping the puck off in front of the net to forward Lionel Mauron, who buried the chance to extend the lead to two.

However, WNE responded with a pair of goals of their own in the same period, both of which came off slap shots from the left circle.

The two teams remained deadlocked throughout the third and overtime periods.  Curry outshot the Golden Bears 41-25 but couldn’t finish around the net.

“We could have attacked the net a little better tonight,” Manastersky noted. “We had the puck an awful lot…There’s times where you have to find ways to spin off a guy and get to the net, be willing to shoot and be willing to get in front of the net without the puck.”

In addition to being down to only 10 forwards, the Colonels were also missing co-captain and defenseman, Phil Kiss, who is out with a concussion.

“It affects our lines because he is a top-end defenseman, plays a lot of penalty kill and some power play, so it’s a trickle-down effect,” Manastersky explained.  “You start relying on freshmen defensemen to do a lot of things which is baptism by fire but it’s good for them.”

The tie puts Curry at 2-2-1 overall on the season, but they have a chance to break through the .500 ceiling when the second half of the home-and-home series sends the Colonels to Springfield to faceoff with WNE yet again tomorrow evening.

Instead of spreading out games between two conference opponents throughout the season, the new format has CCC teams play both of their games back-to-back.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Manastersky.  “It’s like a mini-series and sometimes familiarity breeds contempt.”

Curry has no time to waste and gears up for a road trip to western mass with the puck drop set for 6 p.m. at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield, Mass.

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.