Adam Ziobrowski, Staff Writer
Utica College seniors Dalton Carter and Roman Ammirato of the Pioneers hockey team were recently named American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-American First-Team selections.
Carter, a Toledo, Ohio native, played four seasons at Utica tallying 23 goals and 59 assists for a total of 82 points over his career. Ammirato, a native of Williamstown, New Jersey, finished his two-year career as a Pioneer with 34 goals, 44 assists and 78 total points after spending two years stint at Union College in Schenectady.
Head coach Gary Heenan spoke about how special it is to have not one but two of his seniors recognized with this honor.
“To have two All-Americans in one season is pretty special and a testament to their teammates who supported those guys,” Heenan said. “They are certainly deserving of the recognition.”
Ammirato credited this honor to those that have helped and supported him throughout the years.
“This is such a great honor to have accomplish,” Ammirato said. “I could not have done it without the help and support of my family, teammates and coaches this year.”
Ammirato also reflected on those who have doubted him, as well as those who never stopped believing in him.
“I would say, first off, my family has been my biggest support group in my life while I have been playing hockey,” Ammirato said. “Despite all the people that never chose me to play for them or even doubted me, there have been so many coaches, teammates and other people that have always had my back and supported me. I cannot thank coach Heenan and coach Louie enough for all the support they gave me this year to be successful. This team was so special that we had this year. It was a year that I certainly will never forget.”
When Ammirato and Carter arrived at Utica College, Heenan knew both players had the skills needed to be impact players for the team. He also mentioned how their growth and superb senior seasons were rewarded accordingly.
“We knew both Dalton and Roman had the offensive skill to be major impact guys,” Heenan said. “It was great to see them have terrific senior years and be rewarded for leading our group.”
Just as Heenan said, Carter and Ammirato each put together terrific senior seasons.
Carter appeared in 26 games and set Utica College single-season career highs in goals (11), assists (28) and total points (39).
Ammirato appeared in 27 games for Utica this season and recorded single-season career highs in goals (22) and total points (43) while also recording 21 assists, two points short of his Utica College single-season career high of 23.
Although he is now an AHCA All-American First-Team honoree, Ammirato recognized his road to this point was faced with many obstacles, mainly his smaller frame. However, being given such an honor makes jumping over those obstacles feel worth it.
“Some of the obstacles that I have faced throughout my career have been people doubting that I can keep moving on and playing at higher levels,” Ammirato said. “My smaller size has had a lot of impact on people doubting me, so I just used that as motivation. In a way, it makes this award a bit nicer in my eyes.”
Although he was overlooked by multiple schools and coaches, Heenan saw nothing but raw talent when Ammirato first arrived at Utica. The same goes for Carter.
“Both players arrived at Utica with natural ability, we simply refined it over the years and they had the willingness to be coached,” Heenan said.
With both players set to move on from Utica, Heenan knows their roles will be tough to fill. However, he believes there are some players who will be ready to step in and fill the void left by Ammirato and Carter the best they can.
“It will be difficult to replace those offensive numbers, but I do believe we have some up and comers that could step up and fill those voids,” Heenan said.