Abin Boris, Staff Writer
The Utica College men’s hockey team are so far on their way to another run at the UCHC tournament and a possible bid in the NCAA tournament.
But before the playoffs begin, they first have to finish off their remaining regular season games on a good note.
If the Pioneers can keep up their winning ways, they have a chance to end the season clinching home-rink advantage throughout the playoffs.
This year marks the 16th consecutive time the Pioneers have found themselves going into the playoffs. For senior left winger Shawn Lynch, there is not a better feeling than knowing you are going to be playing in some playoff hockey.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that we have clinched a spot in the playoffs,” Lynch said. “Playoff hockey is the best hockey, so we are excited to be able to keep playing.”
Lynch has collected seven goals and 13 assists this season with Utica. He has broken his previous record in points in one season, his previous high being nine his sophomore year.
With the playoffs and the UCHC tournament come the chances of playing in the NCAA tournament. Players are still trying to keep focused on the present instead of thinking ahead.
Right wing senior Gregg Burmaster knows what can come in the future for the team, but he also made it very clear that the team must stay focused on wrapping up the regular season on a high note.
“We can’t do anything except focus on us and what we are doing at this time,” Burmaster said. “We are simply trying to progress each day as a team, and we think by doing that, it will give us a good look at the tournament.”
Burmaster is in the midst of a team-leading season with 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points so far. Those are his career highs in everything for the senior, and he will look to increase those numbers in the final games of the Pioneers’ campaign.
Coach Gary Heenan has led the Pioneers team for many years now and has plenty of experience dealing with games down the stretch. Similar to Burmaster’s mentality, Heenan believes thinking too far ahead can be dangerous for Utica as they finish off the season.
“We cannot think about the NCAA, each game can affect that outcome,” Heenan said. “I am sure our guys talk about that in their private times, but as a group, we are trying to remain focused on our next game.”