Marquette Club Hockey: Twelve straight wins propels MU to top of standings

Men's Hockey team celebrate during a match. Photo courtesy of R.J. Bennett

While the undefeated Marquette men’s basketball team is all the rage across campus, another team is flying under the radar, putting together an unbeaten streak of its own.

After losing two straight matches to Loyola-Chicago back in early October, the Marquette club hockey team has won 12 consecutive games, skyrocketing to a tie for first place in the Silver North Division of the Mid-America Collegiate Hockey Association. With 20 points, a 15-3 record and six games left, Marquette looks poised to continue its ride into the playoffs.

Sophomore forward Dominic Zanfardino leads the Golden Eagle scoring attack with 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) while fellow sophomore Austin Carlson has added 14 goals and 12 assists. During its current win streak, Marquette has dominated its opponents on offense outscoring them 92-29.

Sophomore forward Kevin Dolan, whose attacking line sees little ice time in comparison to other lines, said the offense has combined pure talent with good scoring distribution among the different lines, getting everyone involved around the net.

“Even my line gets great opportunities to score goals,” Dolan said. “Our forecheck is aggressive all-around, and we’re getting the puck down low in their zone so it’s easy to operate that close to the net. We obviously know who our best scorers are, but scoring throughout the lineup, like you saw from the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins the last two years, is something that we’ve embraced.”

With the offense running the show, life’s been somewhat easier for the Golden Eagles’ solid stable of goaltenders including senior R.J. Bennett, junior Steve Dreher and sophomore John Foley. Bennett and Dreher have been in net a combined 13 games, with Dreher leading the team in goals against average (2.97) saves (193) and save percentage (.910).

Bennett, the team’s lone senior, credited the team in front of the net to Marquette’s success, particularly the energy provided by its younger members.

“We have great team chemistry, and everyone does a good job of handling their responsibilities on the ice and winning their shifts,” Bennett said. “Half the team essentially is made up of an experienced core of juniors, but the other half is mostly underclassmen, and we are really building up that young talent.”

The younger classes of players, Dolan said, have also contributed in a big way to fan attendance, which has seen a considerable increase over the last few seasons.

“I think it’s helpful to have a younger team, because a lot of our freshman and sophomore players spread the word through their dorms about games,” Dolan said. “The upperclassmen do pretty good job too, but I think a lot of our attendance comes from students still living in residence halls with nothing much to do on an early Friday night.”

The Golden Eagles will wrap up their home regular season against Northern Illinois on Friday and Saturday before hitting the road for the remainder of the season. With senior night on Friday, Dolan hopes the new burst of support the team has received will show up in force at the Ponds of Brookfield.

“When the fans come and they’re rowdy, it definitely lifts our game,” Dolan said. “It sounds cliché, but it’s like having another player out on the ice when we can get a full house.”