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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Men’s Hockey comes up short in CCC Quarterfinal

BY CHRIS ARNAUDO // Feb. 26, 2017 //

The Curry Colonels’ men’s hockey season came to a bitter end last night at the hands of the University of New England. However, the 4-2 tally does not tell the story of this slow demise.

Curry came in with high hopes as the #4 seed in the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament, earning the right to host the #5 seed Nor’easters. The Colonels also already registered 8-4 and 3-2 victories over UNE this regular season.

However, the Nor’easters probably had that in the back of their minds too and came out fast on their way to outshooting Curry 10-4 in the opening period. “We couldn’t find the start we wanted to,” senior Tyler Vankleef said postgame.

Just thirteen minutes into the game, senior Chris Harlow netted the games’ first goal. The Colonels we’re only down 1-0, but their body language suggested a much larger deficit.

“Sometimes there’s games where all the effort is there, but it doesn’t look like it,” said head coach T.J. Manastersky about his team’s energy.

Things went from bad to worse in the second period when UNE added a trio of goals. Two of them came on power plays from sophomore defenseman Tucker Ross. CCC Player of the year and First Team All-CCC member Brady Fleurent registered the fourth goal sandwiched in between Ross’ goals.

Sophomore Lionel Mauron finally formulated a response and put Curry on the board three minutes before the period ended.

However, during the intermission, a few Colonels sat outside of the locker room. None of them had their heads down, but all showed signs of defeat.

What would be the final period of Curry’s 2016-17 season lacked intensity and sense of urgency. It took over 12 minutes, and a 5-on-3 power play for the Colonels to claw back to within 2 goals. Mauron was credited with the goal again with assists from Vankleef and senior Jake Heisinger.

With two minutes still showing on the clock, senior goaltender Brett Sinclair was pulled from the net to provide an extra attacker. The Nor’easters didn’t give up any good looks, though, despite four forwards loading the slot with one pressuring the puck carrier. The clock bled down to zero before the Colonels could ring another one home.

Curry ends the season with a 14-10-2 record overall and despite the tough end; Manastersky had only positive things to say about his first recruit class ending their Colonel Careers.

“I told them that I love them and I’m gonna miss [all 11 of them]. They’ve set such a great foundation for this program,” said coach Manastersky.

We wish all the best to the graduating members of the Curry Hockey team and thank them for their time gracing our campus and the Max Ulin Rink.

Men’s hockey picks up 13th win with 3-2 decision over conference foe UNE

BY CHRIS ARNAUDO // Feb. 17, 2017 //

Curry Hockey skated to a season-sweep of the University of New England while also locking in a home playoff game for the Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament with a 3-2 victory.

However, head coach T.J. Manastersky wasn’t getting too far ahead of himself, saying, “Immediately you’re thinking, holy smokes we might have to play them again.”

A big reason the Colonels earned the two points was thanks to the play of senior defensemen Ellery O’Hara and Mike Apreda. Manastersky made sure the pair looked right into the teeth of the top line for the Nor’easters every time a Bloom and two Fleurents spilled over the boards.

Freshman Ryan Bloom, sophomore Brady Fleurent, and senior Trevor Fleurent entered the game being responsible for 116 of UNE’s 260 points on the season. Last night, they were held to just one, which didn’t even come until a third-period power play.

Despite not having much production from their top guys, the Nor’easters still managed to draw first blood with 30 seconds left in the opening period. However, about seven minutes later, freshman Thomas Brejcha changed that narrative.

“I have to work hard, hit bodies and do the dirty job for them,” the Prague-native remarked, crediting his junior linemates, Shane Tracy and Adam Valadao. “It works. We’ve scored a lot of goals the last three-four games.”

That goal changed the momentum and shifted the winds as Curry was getting out-shot and out-worked prior to his play. It also opened the floodgates for his buddy Tracy, as well as senior Tyler Vankleef.

Another seven minutes into the third period, Tracy and Vankleef scored back-to-back goals, allowing only 88 seconds to elapse. Vankleef’s goal was the third unanswered for the Colonels and left only 11 minutes for UNE to score three goals…which wasn’t going to happen with senior Brett Sinclair between the pipes.

Sinclair stopped 18 shots on 20 tries in the winning effort and Manastersky added he’s “number 1 in my heart” after the game. He noted that Sinclair had an outstanding night, coming up big when they needed it most.

Manastersky also credited the referees for doing their job, saying, “The officials called the goals that went over the line, and waved off the ones that didn’t go over the line.”

Coach was alluding to Saturday night’s 6-4 loss to Endicott, where film allegedly showed two Gull goals never actually went into the net.

Curry will now travel to Nichols College, who sits atop the CCC, for a 4:40 p.m. start on Saturday. The Bison have already notched a 4-1 win over the Colonels last month.

Men’s Hockey Falls on Senior Day

BY TYLER MILLIKEN // Feb. 12, 2017 //

The men’s hockey team got set to say goodbye to 11 men skating in the Purple and White for one of the last times Saturday evening at the Max Ulin Rink in Milton.

Endicott College played the part of the visitor in this one, giving time for the Colonel Seniors to be honored for their tenure. The Gulls checked in at #10 in the USCHO.com Poll this week and remained in the second spot in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.

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Curry College Seniors were honored on Senior Night at the Max Ulin Rink. Photo by Tyler Milliken ’20

Prior to the puck dropping, Curry’s 11 seniors were all honored in front of the Colonel faithful and their family. Each graduating member of the team was given a rose and embraced by their teammates before a senior picture was captured on the ice.

It was especially emotional as fifth-year head coach T.J. Manastersky said an early goodbye to his first recruiting class. One member of that group who embraced his time here is Captain Sean Nelson who has accrued 19 points over these 22 games.

In what looks to be his last year of hockey, “to remember tonight with ten other guys that I have played with over the last four years is going to be something I remember for sure,” said Nelson.

Once the first period started, Endicott came out owning the puck and ripping shots on net. Their physicality enhanced their style of play but it wasn’t long after that Curry started to make adjustments.

Around the seven-minute mark, the Colonels drew a boarding penalty and Jarret Kup’s eyes lit up. Senior Tyler Vankleef and sophomore Lionel Mauron played catch and introduced the puck to Kup’s slap shot. Kevin Aldridge couldn’t keep up with it and it blew by his shoulder to light the lamp first for Curry.

However, the lead wouldn’t last very long as four minutes later; the Gulls rang home two goals in 38 seconds, with the latter coming on a power play.

That lead would also not hold up although, it just took until the second period for the Colonels to tie the game back up. Again, they drew a penalty and the special teams came onto the ice and did their job, this time Mack Heisinger found senior Shane Tracy just 3:37 into it.

Endicott pushed back, however, and they did so emphatically. Four straight goals to close out the middle period saw the third period start with Curry in a 6-2 hole.

The Colonels picked up the physicality in the final period and never gave in. Tracy continued to be involved and picked up an assist and a goal in the final frame to pull to a 6-4 score.

Both goals came on power plays again, as senior Adam Valadao put one home just 19 seconds into the third.

There just wasn’t enough time for Curry to climb all the way back and the 6-4 score went final to send its record to 12-8-2 overall and 9-4-2 in the CCC.

Despite the unpromising score, T.J. Manastersky had faith in his men and let the seniors do everything in their final go around. “I didn’t even have to say much after the second period, the seniors said everything. I only had to tell them who’s starting.”

Even with Senior Night coming to an end on Saturday, the Colonels’ season continues on Feb. 16, when the University of New England makes the trip to Milton for a 6:45 p.m. start.

Curry Ties Johnson and Wales in Third Annual Teddy Bear Toss Game

BY TYLER MILLIKEN // Nov. 20, 2016 //

The hockey team took their home ice Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd ready to donate teddy bears to children in need. They only needed to wait about seven minutes.

Intensity was high on both sides once the puck dropped in this Commonwealth Coast Conference matchup with Johnson and Wales University as Curry had been riding a four-game winning streak. Not to mention, the Colonels had some added pressure at the start of this matchup.

With the Teddy Bear Toss taking place, all the bears get thrown onto the ice when the Colonels score their first goal of the game. Due to this being such a highly attended event, it’s no surprise the team wanted to come out firing.

It would only take 7:08 for Curry to score that first goal. Junior forward Adam Valadao sent a scorching slap shot into the back of the net, thanks to a flawless pass from defensemen Jarret Kup. It marked both the third goal for Valadao and the third assist for Kup and sent stuffed teddy bears flying over the boards.

Junior Ryan Fitzgerald said after the game, “Everyone on the bench was ecstatic and jumping up and down giving high fives after the goal. It was just a really special moment for anyone who was a part of the team.”

The Colonels maintained the intensity and senior forward Tyler Vankleef extended the lead with two minutes left in the first frame. Vankleef used his stickhandling skills and placed one past Joey Ballmer for his CCC-best 11th goal of the season. Jake Heisinger and Alec Mono registered the assists that put Curry up 2-0 with 2:14 to go.

By the end of the first period, there were plenty of hits in the corners to keep the players jawing at each other. However, the Colonels retained a 14-8 lead in the shots category after the first 20.

The Wildcats bounced back early in the second, however, tying the game in the first seven minutes. Ben Brouillard, a senior forward, slapped a shot past Curry’s Ben Sinclair for their first goal of the game at the 2:55 mark.

Then, just minutes later, sophomore center Chad Guderian stole the puck and beat two defenders before zipping the puck just over Sinclair’s glove at the end of a Colonel power play.

The comeback wouldn’t shut down Curry, though, as it battled back to retake the lead with only minutes left on the clock.

Mono grabbed his second assist of the game as he found forward Shane Tracy who smacked the puck in the back of the net thanks to a screen in front of Ballmer.

Even though Johnson and Wales outscored the Colonels, Curry again took the shot advantage, this time 19-10.

As the third period rolled around, the Colonels appeared to begin to play it safe. They were no longer playing aggressive and seemed to be playing keep-away from the Wildcats.

Unfortunately, this new strategy failed to work after Tracy ended up in the box for hooking. At the end of that power play, Johnson and Wales tied the game with 11:52 remaining in regulation. Freshman Nicholas Gray netted the goal for the Wildcats after Connor Bates earned his second assist of the game on a pass right in front of the goal.

Johnson and Wales sustained their offensive pressure but Sinclair would come through and keep the game deadlocked at three by the time regulation ran out.

The five-minute overtime was short, but the Colonels had one great chance to win with 3:03 showing on the clock. Vankleef secured a breakaway, but a Wildcat tossed his stick and tripped him as he attempted to score.

Curry was given a penalty shot and Vankleef had the game on his stick.

He eyed up his challenger and took on the task that creates the longest distance between the blue line and the goal. Ballmer made a sliding effort to keep the puck out of the net and the game tied.

Over the final three minutes, neither team could get anything going and the game ended in a 3-3 draw.

Colonel goalie Ben Sinclair totaled 35 saves on the night, while Johnson and Wales’ Joey Ballmer racked up 42 due to Curry outshooting the Wildcats 45-38.

It wasn’t all negative, though, as teddy bears still came on the ice and Vankleef elaborated, “Seeing the bears come down was awesome. It’s what this event is all about. Getting those teddy bears and giving them back to the community and the sick kids in the hospital is a real good feeling.”

When speaking about how the Colonels might bounce back after a tough draw like this, Head Coach T.J. Manastersky explained that “It’s hard to tell. After a game like that, I don’t say much to them…We have the luxury of a week off from games, so it’ll be good to just be together and have some fun at the rink.”

After that week off, the Colonels will have the chance to resume their unbeaten streak Dec. 1 on the road at Endicott College, who is 3-2-2 on the season.