The Gannon University club hockey team made a strong push toward the playoffs with wins over Allegheny College and California University of Pennsylvania last weekend.
The Knights handled Allegheny 10-1 Friday in Meadville, and then returned home Saturday and defeated highly ranked Cal U 6-3 at the Erie Insurance Arena.
The focus for the weekend was largely on Saturday’s game, as the Knights invited all of Gannon to come support them and they raised funds for the Wounded Warrior Project in the process. All in all, roughly 500 fans turned out for the game, which created an electric atmosphere.
Senior defenseman Conrad Thibault said Saturday’s game was a great experience in his final game played in downtown Erie.
“It definitely gave us an edge and the fans were great,” Thibault, a senior sport management and marketing major, said.
Kyle Hartl, a junior legal studies major and the goalie for Gannon, shared the thought.
“When the fans gave us a standing ovation after the first period, I think it revitalized our team coming off a late game the night before, and gave us the energy to keep the intensity throughout the entire game,” he said.
After the first period Saturday, Gannon had the edge 3-1, and the Knights held onto the lead for the remainder of the game. However, it was not an easy win by any means. The team has been shuffling lines for most of the season and now things are finally starting to settle down, according to the Rev. Jason Glover, the Knights’ coach.
“Maintaining stable lines is obviously an advantage in the ongoing development of the chemistry of that line,” Glover said. “At the same time, we have to always be open to flexibility. Injuries and illness can cause a change in lines. That’s primarily what plagued us earlier in the season.”
Even Hartl in goal was not unaffected.
“Losing my goalie partner definitely changed my outlook on the season,” he said. “Now that I’m the only option in net I know I have to play my best every night.”
Hartl said he was especially excited this past weekend.
“I knew this weekend was important for the team and we would have to play our best hockey to win,” he said. “The team brought their A-game both nights and certainly made my job a lot easier.”
Going forward, the Knights are more than halfway through their season, and things are looking up. But the team is trying to keep the same pace it has now, and not get too far ahead. Junior forward Zak Tomblin phrased it best.
“It’s always one game at a time,” Tomblin said. “With playoffs being within our reach, you can’t overlook any one team.
“No matter what, some team is going to come out there and try their best to knock us down.”
The Knights are getting prepared for their next matchup Saturday as Carnegie Mellon visits for a game at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena. Gannon will then have a quick turnaround and play Daemon Sunday afternoon in Jamestown.
The Knights are currently ranked No. 1 in the College Hockey East (CHE) conference, and hope to hold that spot until the end of their season on March 21.