Redemption, the quintessential trait for teams chasing championships. Especially after coming up short in the game that decided it. The Millersville Roller Hockey team is coming off last season’s championship loss to the Yeshiva University Maccabees.
Going into this season, they have no intention of slowing down.
“A championship would mean achieving our goals and solidifying the season,” senior forward Drew Munisteri said. “Anything short of a championship is a failure.” In fact, they have taken intramural sports at Millersville to a new, higher level. They are playing for not only school spirit, but also for a championship.
The leadership of the seniors, young talent, good coaching, and the comradery the guys share on and off the skates have attributed to the team’s winning ways.
“A majority of our team returned from last year and has experienced what it’s like to make a playoff run,” junior forward Austin Cawley said. “I’d say that experience has certainly helped us have success.”
Millersville’s recent winning ways have placed them in the hunt for the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (ECRHA) title. The Marauders currently have an eight-game winning streak that attributes to their 8-1 record. A streak that began on October 29 after beating St. Joseph’s College, 3-1. On January 21, Millersville defeated the Niagara University Purple Eagles, 12-5. Nine different Marauders scored including Munisteri, who scored three goals.
Currently, they’re in second place behind the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers, who handed Millersville their only loss of the season.
Their next game will be on February 17 against the Farmingdale State College Rams. Which conclude a series of three-game tournaments over four weekends that span from October to February.
Two weeks later, the playoffs will be held on the weekend of March 3 to March 5.
“I think it goes back to the experience that the guys have with each other,” Cawley said. “As a team though, we gel very well together, on and off the court.”
Their recent success has come from a group of seniors led by Munisteri, who currently serves as club president. During games, he never lets the team get discouraged. He also stresses for the team to get involved in school activities and to support great causes and stay involved with them.
Forward Connor Heck states that Drew [Munisteri] is a great leader and role model all around.
“Drew [Munisteri] is a big part in bringing the team together [and] rallying us when we need it,” Cawley commented.
Heck also notes that by divvying out different responsibilities, has constructed a successful team.
Throughout the season, they’ve learn to play better as a group and use each other rather than just one player on a line trying to do everything by himself.
“I think we actually have more talent than last year,” Munisteri said. “But when you have an excess of talent, sometimes it takes a little for guys to work well together.”
Head coach Charley Yoder has put in the time to bring out the best in the team.
Heck stated that he (Coach Yoder) stresses that [they] need to “use each other” and sometimes [they] do a great job at it, and sometimes [they] forget to apply in games.
“We are improving every week and will be ready come playoffs,” Heck said.
In order for their winning ways to continue for the future, they must replenish new members for the club team.
The team will lose six seniors after the season. Munisteri says that the team needs 4-6 new players in order for the team to compete next season.
Cawley hopes that the freshmen and sophomores can fill the shoes the big shoes the seniors are going to leave behind.
The team looking to build onto the number of players and the success they have had so far this season.
“All six of those guys are going to be missed,” Cawley commented on the seniors. “They are a large part of our team and replacing them won’t be easy.”
However, the future of Millersville Roller Hockey is looking bright due to passionate interest. Munisteri hopes that winning a championship will also make students want to be a part of it.
The team holds an interest meeting in August at the Galley in the Student Memorial Center.
They will then hold a tryout if a minimum of 18 students are interested in joining.
For this year alone, over 30 students tried out, and unfortunately had to make cuts.
“The fact that we had so many people tryout prove that we aren’t just a club team,” Heck said. “We like to have fun, but we also like to be competitive and win.”
To ensure that the formations gel on game day, the team holds practices twice a week are held at Doc’s Family Fun Center in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
Practicing twice a week and the weekend tournaments have allowed players to focus on academics. It has allowed players to work ahead on school work and be free for weekend tournaments.
The Roller Hockey club team is [also] great for people who still have that competitive spirit but don’t have the time and commitment for varsity NCAA sports like football and baseball.
Heck believes that many people have a misconception that club sports aren’t on the same level as a NCAA sport. In his words, club sports are equally as competitive as interscholastic sports.
“Many people like myself come to college and leave sports in high school because they simply don’t have the time to commit to an NCAA sport,” Heck said.
This season marked Heck’s first season with the team. He stated that he gets along with everyone and has truly found a lot of things in common with every player on the team. This made him wish he could have spent all four years with the “brotherhood.”
“We’re all brothers and we all want to see each other succeed during play and in life,” Cawley said.
The group that was there last year wants a championship more than anything after falling short last season. It would make winning it all much sweeter this year.
In every game going forward, they will and must continue to outwork the other team and want it more. That desire for a winning tradition requires hard work, which will guide the program to a bright, sustainable future.
The players are giving an 110% effort to make winning a championship and to see the program grow into a force to be reckoned with in the ECRHA.