WSU men’s club hockey team making noise

WESTFIELD – Westfield State University and Amelia Park are home to one of the best kept collegiate Hockey experiences in Western Mass.
Highly skilled high school, prep, and junior hockey players are discovering a new avenue to continue their careers at the collegiate level thru the American Collegiate Hockey Association; typically referred to as “club hockey”.
The player skills and competition level is high, and growing stronger with each new season.The Westfield State Owls ACHA D2 team is a perfect example of the strength and growth of this league; and this season, the WSU ACHA Owls are making quite a splash in the Northeast Conference of the league.
Two seasons ago, the WSU team only registered a single regular season win. Coach Jesse Peters joined the team just prior to the start of the 2018-19 season and was able to take the team to six total wins, with a goal to strengthen the program for future seasons by capitalizing on an abundance of local talent waiting in the wings.

Westfield State’s Owen Azevedo, Nick Freniere, and Jake Uhlman. (Submitted photo)

It did not take Coach Peters long.
This season, with full control over the roster, time to acclimate to college level competition, and hard work utilizing his extensive local contacts and prior hockey coaching experiences, Coach Peters has put together one of the most formidable ACHA teams Westfield State University has seen in quite some time.
With a team player make up of approximately 90 percent Massachusetts, 10 percent Connecticut and outside New England, Coach Peters’ Owls hockey team is one of the ACHA D2 Northeast Conference’s top rated squads through the first half of the 2019-20 season with an overall record of 12-1-0 (prior to a Nov. 16 meeting with Anna Maria College).
The ACHA D2 Northeast Conference is made of 39 teams including, UMass-Amherst, University of New Hampshire, Northeastern, UConn, Boston College, and Clarkson, to name a few. UMass-Amherst finished the last two seasons as the Northeast’s top-ranked team and ACHA National Championship runners-up both years.
WSU team captain, senior Tom Burgess, of Sommers (Conn.) and captains Nate Gurgin and Kevin O’Neil; along with Coach Peters, have the team on point, playing well and building solid and respectful relationships among their teammates; and having a great time along the way.
The WSU Owls roster is filled with talented players possessing speed, scoring ability, and depth. Burgess and Gurgin anchor a stingy defense, and O’Neil spearheads a hard-charging and exciting offense that is fun to watch.
Goaltending for the Owls rounds out the team with solid performers; Nick Askins, Dan Larochelle, and Ben Jenkins who are an interchangeable group of skilled tenders, taking their turns in net for the Owls and Coach Peters.
The Owls have efficiently run through their first 12 opponents with victories over Sienna, Bridgewater, Connecticut College, Central Connecticut State University, and Stonehill College, among others.
Their only loss came in overtime to Sacred Heart University in an early season contest.
Future matches at Amelia Park will pit the Owls ACHA team against Suffolk University on Nov. 23 and Connecticut College on Dec 8.
The Owls will face two of their toughest opponents in Rodger Williams University on Jan. 18 at Olympia Rink, and UVM on Jan. 19, also at Olympia rink. Both are Owls home games.
Visit Amelia Ice Arena to see what ACHA hockey and the Westfield Owls are all about. It is a great opportunity show younger players and college prospects the speed and skill of ACHA D2 Hockey with one of the top teams in the Northeast Conference, right in their back yard.
All Westfield Owls ACHA D2 Home Games are free of charge to public. Additionally, ACHA teams are self-funded and receive little to no financial assistance from their universities. Teams who qualify for regional or national events, must pay their own way.
The WSU Owls schedule, standings and other team info can be seen on the ACHA Mens D2 Web site and on Twitter @WSUCLUB. – Story courtesy of Rick DiPietro/Westfield State University

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