Team heads to nationals for first time

Dedication to the team, "metal to the pedal" motto provides momentum for hockey success

GRADUATE CAPTAIN ADAM HENNICK BATTLES University of Vermont’s Peter Block for the puck during their climb to nationals.

For the first time in their eight-year history, the Rensselaer men’s American Collegiate Hockey Association team will be making its way to Columbus, Ohio over Spring Break to compete in the ACHA nationals. “Getting to nationals is all about rankings. Wins, losses, ties, strength of schedule—everything is calculated together to rank teams,” said junior Ranger Beguelin. The top 12 teams in each of the four regions (Northeast, Southeast, Central, and West) get a chance to go to nationals. The top two slots automatically get in, and the rest duke it out. Club hockey defeated the University of Massachusetts 3–0 on Saturday and the University of New Hampshire 5–1 on Sunday to earn their spot. “It’s a dream come true,” wrote Beguelin. “From our club founders to our newest freshmen, we’ve all wanted what’s best for the club, a chance to play a high level of hockey, and to compete with the best of the best. This is our invitation to do just that.”

When asked about a season-defining moment, graduate captain Adam Hennick reflected on a weekend in November when the team squared off against then-number one-ranked New York University. “No one could have imagined we would go into their building and beat them by a score of 8–4, when the weekend before they beat us at home 5–2. That gave our guys an idea that we were capable of playing and beating anyone in our league,” said Hennick.

The season-defining moment came a little later in the season for club president junior Louie Olivieri. “Hearing the final buzzer after beating a very talented University of New Hampshire team brought all of the emotions. In the middle of our celebrations, I made sure to look around at all of our awesome seniors celebrating with each other and the only thought running through my mind was that they aren’t done yet. We’ve all been there at some point, feeling like we’re doing that one thing we love for the last time. And even though their competitive careers are almost over, giving them an extra couple of weeks of putting on the RPI red and white is an incredible feeling. Also, you could say that this is foretelling success, because we aren’t done yet, either.”

Members of the team agreed that what separates this group from the rest is dedication. “Everyone is on the same page with what the mission is, what their individual job is, and how all the pieces fit together,” said Beguelin. With such a long season, it’s important to find players who are dedicated to the cause. “Whether a player plays a lot or a little, everyone understands that they have an important role to play. Everyone understands that it is about the team, not the individual player; and that makes a big difference in a long six or seven-month season,” said Hennick.

The Poly wishes the team luck as they head into nationals. As has become a rallying cry for the team, put the “metal to the pedal.”