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Golden Eagles face-off against rival Robert Morris – Peoria

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Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu

Mix a bunch of hockey loving college students with a bevy of crazy costumes and the general excitement of Halloween and you get what every member of the Marquette club hockey team agrees is the most exhilarating game of the season. The annual Halloween home matchup pits the Golden Eagles (11-5-1) against the Robert Morris-Peoria Eagles (3-3-0), who are looking to avenge last season’s sweep.

Entering his fourth Halloween campaign, senior captain Matt Vuoncino summarized what the Halloween game atmosphere is like from a player’s perspective.

“Just walking out under the stands full of rowdy students gets you going,” Vuoncino said. “From a captain’s perspective, I don’t have to do much to get the guys hyped. Friday night games when buses are running, we get solid crowds and they’re into the game, but Halloween night is always on its own level. The fans have been talking it up and the players are ready to rock.”

Coach Will Jurgensen described the growth of the Halloween games and echoed similar sentiment to Vuoncino.

“We got two buses for our sophomore season game and people really responded by filling up both and also coming in costume,” Jurgensen said. “By my junior year, we filled up four buses and the tradition continued with everyone showing up in costumes and really cheering loud the entire game.  In the past two seasons since, the tradition has only continued to grow and it has become a weekend you really look forward to as a player, and, for me, I am very excited to be there as a coach.”

If playing on Halloween was not already enough, Marquette will also be facing heated rival Robert Morris-Peoria. The rivalry matchup pits a consistently top-of-the-table foe in RMU against a Golden Eagles team having a hot start about midway through the year. Jurgensen explained that no matter how good his team is playing, RMU is the “measuring stick” every season to see how good they really are.

“Peoria has always been a really good team atop our conference and league, so in a way, we used to use them as a measuring stick for where we were as a team,” Jurgensen said. “Needless to say, the games are always incredibly high-tempo and physical because both teams consider it a must-win game.”

Even though RMU is in a different division, Marquette has faced them several times over the last two years, winning the last five games in dramatic contests. In the 2012-13 season, the Golden Eagles went 3-0 against RMU, including a shootout victory at home and an overtime victory that gave Marquette its first appearance at Nationals. In the 2013-14 season, the Golden Eagles kept their streak going, sweeping the road series at RMU with another win in a shootout and an overtime. Jurgensen explained RMU wanted to play on Halloween because it would be an opportunity to break the losing streak in front of a packed crowd.

“They know exactly what the atmosphere will be like and they want a chance to ruin our night in front of a big crowd,” Jurgensen said. “It doesn’t matter whether they are cheering for or against you, a loud crowd gives everyone an extra jump in their step.  It is my hope of course that we can score a couple quick goals, get the fans really into the game and continue to feed off of that energy.”

The games will be played at the Ponds of Brookfield with buses leaving at 6:45 p.m. from the corner of 16th and Wells for Friday’s contest.

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