Last season ended on a sour note for the Rowan division two men’s ice hockey team, and it seems to have left a lasting impression on not only Head Coach Dan DiMonte, but the returning veteran players who know that their team was better than they performed.
Back in February, the no. five seed Rowan were upset by the no. nine seed University of Cincinnati 6-1 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) M2 Southeast Regionals. It was a tough loss for this team, especially with a lot of their leaders heading out.
Coach DiMonte knows that team had more in them and this group of guys, along with the new additions, are going to leave it all on the ice as they try to complete their unfinished business from last season.
“I think it’s going to take the guys elevating their game to the next level,” Coach DiMonte said. “We lost our entire leadership group except for [Jared] Cohen. They were really instrumental in putting the program where we are now. We’re looking for a group of guys to come together and fill their roles quickly. We have some guys coming back who had that taste of success and defeat and they honestly know what it takes now. We’re hoping they set the tone now for the new set of players on the team and help us set up to get to that next stage which is Nationals.”
Two of those guys Coach DiMonte referred to are Jared Cohen of the D2 squad and Colin Sullo of the D3 squad. Both players are experienced and know what it takes to win.
Defenseman Cohen finished 10th on the team last season in points, scoring five goals and assisting on eight for a total of 13 points in 23 games. He led all defensmen on the D2 squad in points.
“When I am in the O-zone, I have the mentality of shooters shoot,” Cohen said. “I have a decent slapshot and a decent wrist shot so I just try to rip them on the net. Sometimes they go, sometimes they don’t but that’s what happens.”
When it comes to leading the defense in points, Cohen had this to say about not only leading but about pushing his teammates to be better as well.
“I try to lead by example and have an open line of communication with everybody. That was the most important thing to me when we got on campus when we had our training camp in August,” Cohen said. “Everybody on the team has a different personality and it is my job as a leader to find a way to connect with them, even if it is not hockey related and just find a way on a personal level.”
Being a leader isn’t always easy, but Cohen has taken up the responsibility and is excited about it.
Taking on that leadership role all starts on the practice ice, and Colin Sullo of the D3 squad knows that better than anyone. Leading the D3 squad in goals with 17 and netting four game winners speaks volumes about how much time Sullo puts in on and off the ice.
“You just gotta put in the work off the ice and it will all come together. I don’t really do much,” Sullo said. “Zach Rozell just passes me the puck and I put it in the net.”
That humbleness also speaks volumes about how this team operates and how well Coach DiMonte has this team coming together.
“It all starts at practice. To build on the chemistry,” Sullo said. “We all have new linemates this year and we need to build on the chemistry for this year and hopefully bring it into games.”
Chemistry isn’t something that you build in one practice or a few scrimmages. Both Cohen and Sullo both explained how their respective teams bonded and built chemistry starting at training camp.
“I wish we would have done this last year and I am glad we came up with this idea. Every rookie stepping onto campus gets a veteran guy. It becomes an instant line of communication for guys,” Cohen said “For example, if one of the rookies needed to know where this building was or how to get to that building, it gives them someone to guide them on and off the ice. It’s like a built-in buddy system. Especially to help them with any first time jitters or first practice jitters was definitely our approach.”
“We are always there for the younger guys, giving them rides if needed,” Sullo added. “We will be going bowling this weekend. We play Football and Suey just to get the younger guys involved.”
With the rosters being decided at camp, during practices and daily throughout the season, guys can always have their position moving up and down between the D2 and D3 teams. Coach DiMonte’s goal is to not only develop these guys but to put them in situations where they will succeed and be at their best to help their team.
It’s clear that the goal this year is nationals and the team wants nothing less. This team expects to make some noise in the ACHA.
The D2 men’s squad drops the puck on their season at Holly Dell Ice Arena on Friday, Sept. 23 against Penn State University. The D3 roster will play after them, squaring off against Penn State.
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