By Madison Zoey Vettorino
On Saturday, November 4, the Marist College Men's Ice Hockey club team dominated their most competitive rivals, the Siena College Saints, to win their fourth consecutive Route 87 Cup Challenge in an electrifying 5-2 victory.
Marist won their first game against Siena on September 29 in Albany, New York. This latest win was crucial for the Red Foxes. “It’s important because even though it is a ‘club team,’ it’s still a team with a lot of history,” said Matt McNamara, a play-by- play commentator for ‘The Rant Sessions,’ Marist Hockey’s official broadcasting team. “It’s really the biggest regular season achievement that Marist can strive for. All members of the Marist Hockey community can share in stories of fighting and winning against Siena in some way.”
The game, described by Captain Justin Larkin as “intense, fast-paced, and hard-hitting,” was a testament to the team’s dedication to beating Siena and continuing that winning tradition. The contest started off relatively slow; the score was tied at 0-0 until Siena scored with just over two minutes left in the first period. Marist, however, re-emerged from the first intermission with a vengeance, hungry for a win.
In the second period, the Red Foxes scored four unanswered goals, finishing out the period with a 4-1 lead. For McNamara, this was the best portion of the game. “My favorite part [of the game] was in the second period, where Marist scored four goals in ten minutes,” McNamara said. “The first was generally quiet, especially from Home fans. But the roar of the crowd just kept building after each subsequent goal. That’s what the excitement of the rivalry is all about.”
Larkin agreed that the crowd plays a large role during a game as important as this one. “It’s always a tough battle against Siena because we both want to win so badly,” he said. “The crowd plays a big part in these games. We know the stakes are so high so it brings out the best in everyone.”
The third period, however, was slightly less eventful. Marist scored one more goal prior to the end of the game, as did Siena. The game concluded, and the Red Foxes defeated the Saints with a score of 5-2. Marist, once again, won the title of Route 87 Cup Challenge Champions.
According to Head Coach Michael Beck, the discipline that the team maintained was crucial to their victory. “I think we maintained discipline in a high penalty game and in doing so, we were able to create more opportunities to capitalize on that," Beck said.
This was something McNamara noticed as well. “Marist, especially in the third period, kept their composure,” McNamara said. “Were there big hits and even bigger fights? Of course, that’s expected in a game like that. But Siena had several players either thrown out of the game or sent to the [penalty] box for detrimental behavior towards officials and that really stunted comeback effort. Credit to Coach Beck and the rest of the staff for keeping their players focused on the win.”
Beck believes that Marist's ability to hold on to their Route 87 title demonstrates how much the hockey program has grown. “I think it was important for Marist College Hockey to maintain the title because it showed the progression of the program over the last few years and how we have become one of the leaders of the Super East league,” Beck said. “It continues our dominance on the league.”
“I’m happy that we won," said Aaron Lassen, a sophomore defenseman for the Red Foxes. "I’m sure it means a lot to the guys that have been here all four years,” Larkin, who has been the Red Foxes’ goaltender for the last four years of Route 87 Cup Challenges, is thrilled that Marist Hockey’s combination of determination and hard work has paid off again.
“It’s a great honor to win all four years against our biggest rival,” Larkin said. “We work hard to prepare for these games every year and it’s awesome to see the hard work pay off. There’s no better feeling than beating them. We have dominated them for the past four years and look to continue it.”