Christian Rodriguez, Assistant Sports Editor
The Utica College men’s hockey team has been dominant at home this season holding an 8-1-1 record at the Adirondack Bank Center.
The team is currently 14-4-1 overall, which is good enough to rank them No. 7 nationally, according to the USCHO. Their great play this year has put the team in the conversation for a spot in the Frozen Four.
Senior Roman Ammirato, currently leading the team in scoring, said his team’s love for playing at home is why he thinks the team has been so successful at this point in the season.
“We know that the fans cheer for us so much,” Ammirato said. “We owe it to them to play as hard as we can every night. We have kept our game simple and have done the things that have made us successful, which has also translated to us being successful at home.”
According to Ammirato, the point of emphasis to continue the high level of play is to worry about the things the team can control.
“Our work ethic, attitude and good habits are what is going to keep us doing well,” Ammirato said. “We can’t worry about what other teams are doing because ultimately we can’t control anything that they do.”
The Frozen Four is certainly a goal that Ammirato feels he and his teammates would like to achieve.
“It would mean so much to the players and fans, especially, to make it to the Frozen Four,” Ammirato said. “Ultimately, our goal is to win the Frozen Four, and I believe we have the right men on our team to do so.”
Ammirato also stated that this goal can be accomplished by staying focused on the next game.
“We don’t want to think ahead too much because we still have a handful of games left in the regular season to win,” Ammirato said. “The Frozen Four is certainly in our sights, but it is the hard work and effort we put in this next month and a half that will help get us there.”
Sophomore and UCHC Goalie of the Week Patrik Virtanen said he loves playing at home because he has a routine that is easier to follow when the team is not traveling. He loves playing in front of a crowd and praises the home fans of Utica.
“Our great fans help us a lot,” Virtanen said. “They bring a lot of ‘boost’ to the game.”
With the team playing their best hockey thus far, Virtanen thinks Utica should keep playing simple hockey and give their all on and off the ice. To him, outcomes are not always determined on the ice.
“Everyone has to do the right things outside of hockey in order to bring their full effort on the ice everyday,” Virtanen said.
Virtanen also feels that the goal of the season is to reach the Frozen Four, and the team is doing its best to reach that.
“We have a really good team, and after last year I think we earned a chance to go there,” said Virtanen.
Head coach Gary Heenan is happy with his team’s play this season.
His approach to the game this year is no different from the previous, and Heenan thinks he has a “tight group that has bought in to the team approach.”
Heenan enjoys playing at home just as much as his players do. He feels the energy that they give at every home game and it makes his job “that much better.”
“We have the best fans in the country, and the boys enjoy playing hard for them,” Heenan said.
Heenan is focused on taking the season game by game, but the ultimate goal being the Frozen Four is no mystery.
“The Frozen Four is a subject we have thought about,” Heenan said.