Cadet hockey has some key injuries, hoping to get healthy as Christmas break approaches

Sophomore forward Kevin Salvucci makes a move with the puck. The Cadets have struggled through a rash of injuries but still own a 7-4 record before the Christmas break.

Sophomore forward Kevin Salvucci makes a move with the puck. The Cadets have struggled through a rash of injuries but still own a 7-4 record before the Christmas break.

The Norwich University men’s ice hockey team  battled its way to its third 5-0 start in its last three seasons, but it hasn’t come easy. Injuries have proven to be a problem for the Cadets in their young season.

“It’s obviously not easy or ideal losing key guys early in the season, but that only means other guys need to step up,” said Austin Surowiec, 22, who plays forward for the team and is a junior business management major from Louisville, Ky. “I think it’s a real testament to our depth that we’ve been able to start the way we have.”

The Cadets have seen seven players fall victim to injury so far this season, ranging from a torn MCL to a concussion, The first five games have all been tight scoring affairs, with four out of the first five games being separated by two goals or less. Still, the team has found ways to win hockey games despite having a shortened roster. The last two weeks have been tough with the team hitting a three game losing streak and now standing at 7-4.

Coming off a tremendous weekend with wins over divisional opponents St. Anselm’s and New England College in mid-November, the Cadets were patiently waiting for the return of some key players.

“I think the return of Pellitier in the next couple weeks is what I’m looking forward to the most,” said Tyler Piacentini, 22, junior captain from Weymouth, Mass. “I think everyone getting back healthy is the main goal right now, but I think everything gets a little easier when you get a guy like Pelletier back in the lineup.”

William Pelletier, a junior forward from St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec, was the Cadets leading scorer in the 2014-2015 season despite playing only 22 games due to a concussion. His actions on the ice last season garnered him both the division III Player of the Year and All-American accolades.

“Connor Evangelista is a guy who’s just on the verge of coming back, I think that will be huge for us,” added Surowiec. “ After losing our three senior defensemen last year I think Connor is huge with the maturity on our blue line, his style and work ethic can only help when he returns.”

Evangelista, a sophomore defenseman, was lost early this year due to a groin injury that occurred in a practice. The timeline for his recovery was two-to-four weeks and he came back in time to score a goal in the close loss in overtime to Plattsburgh State at the Primelink tournament finals last weekend.

The Cadet’s blue line (defense) was in question at the beginning of the year after the departure of the three seniors on the back end who played a lot of minutes. So far this season, with injuries and immaturity a factor, the cadets have still managed to battle through.

“I’m very proud of how the guys have played so far, it’s not easy to watch games from the stands, but its is a little bit easier when the team is winning,” said Pelletier. “ I’ve had a tough start the last two years but its seems as though the guys always rally when we have guys out and play better, knowing that nothing is going to come easy.”

The Cadets may have surprised some teams over the last couple of games that know they have been struggling with injuries but nothing that they’ve done has come as a shock to the players.

“I believe that’s part of the makeup of this team,” Piacentini said. “Regardless of who’s on the ice for us or certain circumstances, we never expect to lose. It says a lot about our identity and all 28 guys we have in the locker room.”

The Cadets had hoped to continue their winning ways during the three remaining games to be played in December, all of them away games. But they lost to  UMass (Boston) in OT 4-3 in a heartbreaker, and  then 5-1 to Babson. One game remains against St. Michael’s in Winooski, Vt., on Dec. 9 before the Christmas break begins. The break may offer some injured cadets a chance to recover and gear up for the 2016 Northfield Savings Bank Holiday Tournament starting Jan. 2

 

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