Pitt-Greensburg hockey team ranked fourth in nation

| Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, 6:14 p.m.

The 2013-14 season is shaping up to be a special one for the Pitt-Greensburg men's hockey team.

The Bobcats entered this week with an 11-3 record, good for first place in the College Hockey East (CHE) division of the Collegiate Ice Hockey Association (CIHA).

Pitt-Greensburg has been scoring goals at a torrid pace, racking up double figures in more than half of their victories.

Coach Tim Baldwin attributes his team's success to his squad performing well in all facets of the game — not just on offense.

“We've just been playing as a unit,” Baldwin said. “Regardless of the caliber of team, the last couple of games, we've found a hole in the goaltender and put the puck in the net.”

A trio of Norwin graduates — forwards Nico Vecchio, Daniel Merz and Anthony Maroadi — has keyed this season's offensive surge.

Vecchio has been the leading point-getter on the season with 23 goals and 21 assists.

Merz leads the team in goals, scoring 25 times and adding eight assists.

Maroadi has 15 goals and 13 assists.

Attracting local hockey talent is vital to the success of the Bobcats year-in and year-out.

“Being a local university, we allow local talent to continue their hockey careers,” Baldwin said. “We recruit heavily through local high school and amateur leagues.”

Forward Cody Sackmann-Staves has also been a key contributor this season. While a number of players on the team are local, Sackmann-Staves is a Los Angeles native. He's netted 11 goals and dished out 14 assists.

While the offensive numbers put up by the Bobcats — like their goal differential of 136-48 in the first 14 games — have been impressive, there have been strong efforts on the back end from the team's defensemen and goaltenders as well.

“They've been playing well,” Baldwin said of his goaltenders, Ryan Palonis and J.R. Lynch.

In addition to residing atop the CHE standings, the Bobcats are near the top of the CIHA national rankings. At the start of this week, Pitt-Greensburg was ranked fourth in the country behind Xavier, SUNY-Brockport and Western Washington.

While success in the regular season has been satisfying, Baldwin and his team have their sights set on the national tournament in March.

“This is on track to be one of the best seasons Pitt-Greensburg hockey has ever had,” Baldwin said. “It's an exciting time to be part of the team and part of the university as a whole.”

In addition to their on-ice achievements, the Bobcats have been doing good work in the community as well. In October, the team raised $1,500 for breast cancer awareness during one of its games.

Recently, the team has partnered with Hockey Saves, an organization that gets veterans involved with the game of hockey when they return from active duty. The team is also actively involved in the Toys for Tots program.

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.

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