Last season, the Rowan Division III ice hockey team made it to the finals in the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs only to come up short against Bryn Athyn College in best-out-of-three series, two games to one.
Rowan was able to avenge that bitter defeat this season by knocking off Shippensburg College in the championship two games to none, winning the first 8-2 and the second 4-3, to win the DVCHC title.
“It means a great deal to me being that it was my first year with the program,” head coach Bruce Kocensky said.
Defenseman John Cascio led the way in the second game, knocking in two goals to propel the team to a 4-3 victory.
“That was pretty cool, I was not really a goal scorer until this year,” Cascio said. “But I just started shooting the puck more and it somehow found its way in the net.”
Rowan had some added motivation going into the championship game because they were left out of regionals. There are four ranking periods throughout the season and Rowan was included every week except for the last, which meant that the team slipped out of contention for regionals.
“We definitely felt as if we deserved to make regionals, so we went into the playoffs with something to prove,” Cascio said.
Winning the championship as well as finishing the season with a 21-5-4 overall record means that Rowan will be moving up to the national division next year, a huge step for the program.
“It’s great for us and really good for our program because we’re starting to get a lot of recognition,” said team captain Chris Hering. “Sometimes, I read the hockey forums and our team was pretty much non-existent last year because we were .500 and we got crushed to some of the teams we beat this year.”
Rowan proved that it belonged this year by beating four teams that played in the upper division. Among those teams were Stockton, Brn Athyn, Penn State Brandywine and Alvernia, all of which beat them handily last season.
“When the fourth [regional ranking period] came out, we slipped out of the rankings, so we didn’t go to Regionals and everyone said that the reason we didn’t go was because the weakness of our schedule,” Hering said. “So it’s good for our team that we won this championship and are moving up next year.”
Coach Kocensky thinks that this is only the beginning for this program and that much more success is ahead of them.
“We kept things together this year, we played as a team this year,” Kocensky said. “Myself and my coaching staff brought in the philosophy of playing as a team and this team really stuck to it and that’s what really led us to what we had to do. Going into next year, I really think we’re going to have a chance to compete for nationals and compete for national championship.”