Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke
The Duquesne men’s club hockey team fell 4-1 to the Pitt Panthers Saturday night in their final regular season game of the year.
The Dukes, who finished the season with a record of 15-8, will head back to the playoffs this year after reaching the division championships in 2013 where they lost to Mercyhurst. Losing to Pitt, however, means the team will not have a first round bye and will have to play this upcoming weekend against an opponent that still has not been named.
After 20 minutes of play that featured some good action at both ends of the ice, Pitt lit the lamp first with a power play goal. Starting goaltender Dylan Lawrence let up a rebound goal seven minutes into the first that put Pitt in control. Lawrence, who will most likely get the nod to start in net for the playoffs, is 8-7 in the games he has started this year and has posted a season save percentage average of .894.
Head coach Larry Marks was disappointed with the lack of team play he saw Saturday night.
“We need to play as a team, not individuals,” Marks said. “They need to play smart and not get caught up in the referees.”
Only a few minutes into the second, the Dukes knotted the score back to one a piece after junior defenseman Josh Hetz ripped a slap shot from right inside the blue line to put it past the Pitt netminder. Unfortunately, the lead wouldn’t last long as the Panthers were able to rush down the ice and lift the puck past Lawrence’s glove to make the score 2-1.
Every matchup is an important one for the Dukes but it seems the ones with Pitt tends to showcase a more physical side for the team. Coach Marks believes it’s just the cross-town rivalry that fuels the team’s rivalry for the Panthers. Hetz sees his teammates in a different mindset whenever the two teams meet.
“I think a lot of people get riled up when it comes to Pitt,” Hetz said. When emotions start to flare Hetz stated, “We should be keeping our heads.”
The rest of the game was downhill for the Dukes. The Red & Blue would go on to let up three more goals, one more in the second and the final in the third. Junior Defenseman Kyle Brown thinks the team can learn from this defeat and apply it next week in their first round of the playoffs.
“We need to just finish strong,” Brown said. “The first two periods are usually good, but we have to finish the game off stronger.”
“We need to play a lot smarter too,” Hetz added.
One of the more special moments of the year for the team is always senior night. Sean Bogosta, Evan Gorse, and captain Alex Castanzo were accompanied by their parents in a small ceremony held on the ice before the face off.
Coach Marks expressed his thoughts on season highlight.
“It would have been better if they won but they had a good time,” Marks said. “That’s all they could have asked for.”
“I think with the turnout [the game] had tonight, the seniors were pretty pumped. We don’t get a lot of people at our games so they were pretty happy.”
The Dukes are looking to redeem this week’s loss in a big way when they take on an unnamed opponent this weekend in the first round of the CMHA Division tournament.