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Golden Eagles prepped for senior night against Loyola

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The last home series of the season for the Marquette club hockey team pits the Golden Eagles (23-7-1) against Loyola-Chiacgo. The team is coming off a weekend sweep of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Tournament at Northwestern, going 4-0 overall with a 24-11 scoring advantage.

Seniors Matt Vuoncino, Tyler Schwictenberg, David Fabris, Paul Gunza, and graduate student Ken Yamashita will all be honored Friday night for their contributions to the team during the last four years. Coach Will Jurgensen was a junior when he first met the original four members of this season’s senior group. Jurgensen gave glowing praise to his former teammates on how much they have improved on and off the ice.

“They’ve all not only transitioned into better hockey players but better men,” Jurgensen said. “They’ve matured from the freshman and sophomores who played with me to really becoming the leaders of this team.”

As captain, Vuoncino lead the Golden Eagles to their best season since his sophomore year. When asked to describe what the feeling on senior night will be like, he explained that it was the first time he pondered his last home games at Marquette.

“The last time I thought about it was last year, watching the other seniors leave and realizing that eventually it’ll be my turn,” Vuoncino said. “That last walk through the tunnel will be weird, but hopefully I can take it all in.”

Assistant captain David Fabris was happy to see how the program has transitioned into a national powerhouse since he joined the team.

“Being a board member, I have seen first-hand the numerous emails of kids asking and showing interest in the program and have spoken with coaches who are begging to play us because they know how competitive we are,” Fabris said. “A program that ten years ago was not noticeable has come a long way because of the hard work from all those involved over the year.”

Assistant captain Tyler Schwichtenberg is coming off an MVP performance in last weekend’s tournament at Northwestern. Schwichtenberg was named the player of the tournament and finished with five goals during the weekend. He said he will remember his teammates for the times on and off the ice.

“These guys are my best friends, so you really can’t ask for anything more than that,” Schwichtenberg said. “I’m with these guys probably six times a week so playing with them is great.”

Graduate student Ken Yamashita comes into his senior night at Marquette on a bit of a sour note. After being sidelined since October with a MCL tear in his left knee, Yamashita collided with a Notre Dame winger and sat out the rest of the game with a right knee injury. The injury is bad enough where he won’t be active in the last home series of the season. Yamashita was disappointed in how the season finished.

“Marquette has a pretty good following, so to be in front of a crowd like that, to have one final game, it would’ve been pretty awesome,” Yamashita said. “It’s something I haven’t experienced before and I was really looking forward to it.”

But despite the unfortunate circumstances, Yamashita was glad to play with teammates who wanted him to succeed and got to know him throughout the season, even though he was older than the rest of the team.

“The guys really brought me in and accepted me as a true teammate,” Yamashita said. “Even though it was only a year, this season brought me back to my undergraduate guys and reminded me how much fun it was playing on a team like this.”

Buses for the senior night game will leave promptly at 6:45 p.m. outside of McCormick Hall. Following the penultimate series of the season, Marquette will finish the regular season campaign with two games against Aurora.

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