Malvern Ice Hockey is having a pucking incredible regular season

Malvern Ice Hockey, in the midst of a stellar season, is 8-1, and now preparing for playoffs and their postseason run.

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Luke Gueriera, Contributor

Through the many obstacles and challenges this year has brought, Malvern teams have shown that they did not skip a beat in their offseason training and preparation, especially when it comes to Malvern’s ice hockey team. 

“The team has been competing at a high level this season. I would say this is probably one of the better years we have had in the past 4 to 5 years,” Ice Hockey Head Coach, Bill Keenan said, when talking about his current team and their impressive 8-1 record. 

“Being 8-1 is a huge jump from last year which had been a disappointing year for our team, where we finished fourth in the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference (APAC). Now this season we are going into the APAC Playoffs and Flyers Cup as the number one seed, as the team to beat with a target on our back,” CaptainRyan Sambuco’21 said.

Sambuco, as well as the rest of the seniors, have dedicated an immense amount of time and energy to this team for many years, and that has proven to pay off thus far, especially by their display of leadership.

“It’s an honor to be captain of the Malvern Ice Hockey team, it’s been a goal of mine since I was a little kid to be the captain of my high school team, and for it to be for Malvern Prep makes it that much better with the program and previous success,” Sambuco said. “I think we can do something special.”

Of course, a team is nothing without hard work and dedication to becoming the best unit they can be, but with this year’s team, the connection between players goes deeper than that.

“The team’s x-factor this year is the team chemistry. I think every player shows up and understands how they fit into the bigger puzzle,” Keenan said. “I think our group of seniors, Chris Blango, Ryan Sambuco, Jack Costabile, Matt Donatucci, Jimmy Kirk and Riley McCarry have anchored the team both in their skills but also in the locker room.”

“The team’s chemistry is the best it’s been in a long time. Our depth plays a huge role in that, as our four forward lines can produce consistently and our three defensive pairs are playing lockdown defense,” Sambuco said.

This chemistry has been felt amongst the entire team and has been influential for players who will be leading the team in the future.

“The team’s chemistry on and off the ice is good. Everyone gets along well. We have moments where we can laugh and joke with each other and then we know when to lock our minds in and focus,” Assistant Captain Matt Harris ‘22 said.

When asked about what being an Assistant Captain meant to him, Harris said, “Being selected as assistant captain is very honorable and means a lot to me. It shows that these younger guys put their trust in me. I was in their position and knowing that I have to lead by example makes me be more knowledgeable of my actions on and off the ice”

A good team can become content with their performance and satisfied with what they have accomplished so far, but great teams always know there is room for improvement.

“Some areas we can improve is making sure we play three full periods of hockey. Right now we seem to start games fast and get leads but as we go into the third period our offense starts to stall. Being able to play three complete periods really makes us hard to beat,” said Keenan. He continued on about working on defensive zone breakdowns & communicating that amongst linemates. “Having that type of analysis and communication of the game can really improve the way the game goes and how the players execute.”

As the season progresses, the team begins to set their sights onto the APAC Playoffs and the Flyers Cup, and evidently there is one common goal between coaches and players alike.

“Our main goal this season is to show up every single game and give our best effort. Ultimately we want to win a Flyers Cup. It has been fifteen years since Malvern won a Flyers Cup. I think it’s our time to bring it back to Malvern and go compete for a state championship,” Keenan said.

“Our team’s goal is to carry this season as long as we possibly can. We’re taking it one game at a time right now, but we want to go for it all,” Sambuco said, expressing a necessary level of consistency needed for the team to continue as they move further into the postseason. “We can’t look too far ahead and have to focus on the task at hand in order for those things [playoffs] to happen though.”

“That is every single person’s mindset and if we keep our minds clear and stay on track we will win it all,” Harris said.