Prior to this past weekend, Rutgers improved by 5 spots in the ACHA D1 rankings, jumping up to No. 17 in the nation. With a sweep of the Duquesne University Dukes now under their belts as well, they look to stay on a hot streak heading into two huge home games next weekend against the #23 ranked University of Rhode Island Rams.
Head Coach Martin Bernstein says he thinks the team could have been sharper against Duquesne, but he will take the wins and look to improve this week in practice.
Three players who stood out over the weekend to Bernstein were Ross Asroff, Cody Berquist and Matt Langlois, who played very well on Saturday. Specifically, Berquist’s shorthanded goal on Saturday gave the team a huge boost.
“I was really happy with the way that we shut them down in the third period on Saturday to close out the game. I also like how quickly we were able to respond after they scored the first goal, [but] we’d like to cut down on the amount of penalties we take going forward, Bernstein said.
The team yearns to make it to Nationals and is aware that they need to keep moving up in the rankings with wins over ranked opponents and ESCHL league rivals.
“It is very difficult to sweep a weekend in this league, said C.J. Maksut, who garnered 5 points in the two wins, including a hat trick on Friday. “Getting two wins this weekend was huge, and hopefully these wins will generate momentum for us to carry into our next games.”
Maksut says the team has to put themselves in a good position, but continue to focus on one game at a time. He believes puck possession plays a huge factor in deciding how well the game is going to go. By having more time with the puck, it gives the opponent less time on the attack.
“Although our systems & strategy may differ depending on who we are playing, our attitude and preparation does not. We believe that we should win each game we play regardless of the opponent and we will continue to prepare and play our game,” Maksut said.
Captain James Felice believes in taking lessons from the sweep of the Dukes.
“Being the only ranked opponent on Duquesne’s schedule, they came out strong and didn’t make it easy for us. DU played two hard fought games; they are a very well coached and hardworking team,” Felice said. “This sweep to me is another two games and two wins within our short season. It feels amazing to win, but the biggest thing to take away is how we can build and learn as a team from these wins.”
The team looks to focus next on the University of Rhode Island, in hopes of keeping their success and top-20 ranking alive.
“Despite the success we’ve had thus far, it doesn’t mean we are playing our best hockey. We are winning but there’s still plenty to improve on in practice,” said Felice.