The Pitt-Greensburg hockey team brought its record for the regular season to 5-4 after playing their first game of the spring semester against Saint Vincent College on Jan. 19.
The team took the lead in their away-game at Center Ice Arena within the first three minutes of the first period and stayed ahead of Saint Vincent for the entire game, ending with an 8-7 final score.
“We always really like playing Saint Vincent,” Jonathan Lesnak, the team’s left wing and #24 (Junior Psychology major) said. “We developed a strong rivalry over the past couple of years because they are right down the road from us and we both play out of the same rink.”
“It was a hard-fought game,” starting goalie Zach Bernstein (#30), a junior Criminal Justice major, said of the team’s most recent competition. “It came down to the last few minutes and the team came together and secured a big win.”
There are three regular-season games and a series of tournaments left to play, leaving the team with a chance to fight for a playoff spot. Pitt-Greensburg will finish out the 2018 season playing Penn State Altoona, Case Western Reserve, and California University of Pennsylvania.
The team’s roster was limited this semester, but the players have used this as an opportunity to develop as individuals and as a group.
“We have definitely grown closer both on and off the ice,” Lesnak said. “We needed everyone to be playing their best all the time, and with that mindset I think we have really matured.”
“Some games we have to play more conservative and save our energy. But we have worked hard on our conditioning and we have developed a style of play that works for us, even without a full bench,” Bernstein said.
According to Bernstein, goalies have to “be tough mentally and have a short memory” and that his head coach Dave Ulishney encourages him to “keep playing until the final buzzer goes off,” using their adversity as a motivator.
For students looking to take in a game before their regular season ends, the team will play its next home game on Feb. 2 against Case Western Reserve. The puck drops at 9 p.m. at Center Ice Arena in Delmont.
Pitt-Greensburg’s hockey team is facing about a month left in their regular season, and as the team thinks back on this season so far, the players are competing for a playoff spot and looking ahead to the 2019 season as well.
“We’ve worked hard for a winning record and will continue building on that,” Bernstein said.
“I have played hockey for my whole life and there’s no better feeling than lacing up my skates and playing,” Lesnak said. “There is a lot of competition in our league, and even though it is just DIII, there are a lot of skillful players and it makes the games a lot of fun.”
“The team is more like a second family,” Bernstein said. “My teammates are brothers.”