The Gannon University club hockey team won its home opener against Case Western Reserve University by a score of 7-2 Saturday at the Ice Center of Erie.
The team went on to crush the University of Pitt-Bradford 15-1 Sunday at Callahan Ice Rink in Bradford, Pa.
Leading the way against Case Western were grad student Mike Foti and sophomore Zak Tomblin, who contributed two points apiece. Also scoring one goal each for the Knights were senior Eddie Gerus, sophomore Nick Jenkins and freshman Greg Newman.
Jenkins added two assists to Foti’s, Newman’s, sophomore Joshua Green’s and junior Connor Sondel’s assists.
At Pitt-Bradford, Tomblin (4 goals; 2 asst) and Sondel (3 goals; 3 asst) were the point leaders. Green also had a hat trick and 2 assists. Foti, Jenkins, sophomore Chad Kaltenbach, junior Alex MacFarlane, and grad student Michael Martin each chipped in a goal. Assists were provided by Gerus (3), Jenkins (2), Foti (2), Newman (2), and Martin (1).
Sophomore goalkeeper Raymond Tainaan commanded the team’s defensive effort with 22 saves and a .957 save percentage.
MacFarlane said that despite rough first periods, Gannon ended both games with unmatched intensity.
“We really showed our depth this weekend with goals coming from both special teams’ lines and the first three offensive lines, which is something we lacked last year,” MacFarlane said. “Our team is really developing well as a whole.”
Foti said he agreed that the games were slow starting, but there is still room for improvement.
“Our tender played very well,” he said, “but we need to pick it up a little bit on offense and defense.”
Nevertheless, Foti said, he maintains high hopes for the rest of the year.
“We are in for a good season,” he said. “I think it will be a lot of fun and other schools will look at us as a tough team to play.”
Regarding the Pitt-Bradford game, the Rev. Jason Glover, the team’s head coach, said he understood that Gannon’s opponent was a newly formed group.
“I felt it was a way Gannon could help a young program get started,” he said.
Down the road, Glover said, Gannon will face stiff competition – namely Pitt-Greensburg Nov. 1.
“I don’t think these blowout scores are something that we’re going to get comfortable with, nor do we want to,” he said. “We want to be able to face teams that are going to pull out the best of us.”
Last year the team made it to the national tournament. Glover said he doesn’t want to be blindsided by hard-hitting teams.
“I’d rather face tough competition now and get our guys ready for that level of play,” he said.
“We are building some confidence and consistency now, which should lead to a good season,” he said. “We haven’t hit our peak yet, so I am really excited to see what heights the team can reach once we get things going.”
Gannon will look to add another win in a rematch at Case Western at 9 p.m. Friday.