Marian men’s hockey earns first trip to NCAA Tournament

March 5, 2018

Hockey making NCAA tournamentAfter reaching 20 wins for only the second time in program history, the Marian University men’s hockey program will make their first trip to the NCAA Tournament after earning an at-large bid.

The Sabres kick off the tournament against at Augsburg after the Auggies won the MIAC going 18-9-0 on the season.  The Sabres travel to Augsburg Saturday, March 10 for a 7 p.m. puck drop.

The Sabres spent the end of the season in the national rankings reaching as high as No. 12 in the poll and No. 13 in the USCHO poll.  Marian is on pace to at least earn votes in the final national polls for a third consecutive season.

Marian closed out the season with 20 wins marking only the second time in program history the Sabres have reached the 20-win plateau with the second highest win percentage in program history.  The previous season Marian reached 20 wins was 2009-10 when MU went 20-7-0.  The Sabre defense was especially strong in 2017-18 allowing the second fewest goals in a single season to go with the second lowest goals against average, second highest save percentage and a tie for the most shutouts in one year.

Along with the team accomplishments, there were several Sabres who earned recognition throughout the season individually.  Amongst them, Marian had a pair of program records go down, the first a career mark reset from senior Gianni Mangone.  Mangone has been one of the top-scoring blue liners for Marian since he transferred from Arizona State in 2015 and became the top goal scoring defenseman in Sabre men’s hockey history in just three seasons.  Mangone has 31 goals in his career to leapfrog ahead of Pat Telford who previously held the record with 27.  Another transfer had a big season in sophomore Hunter Vorva who set the single-season record for goalie wins in a season.  Vorva closed out the year with 20 wins beating out Hall of Famer Terry Dunbar who posted 16 wins in the 2003-04 season.

Another pair of career milestones were also reached when seniors Derek Thorogood and Hunter Stewart became the 10th and 11th Sabres to reach 100 career points.

Thorogood was named All-NCHA for the second time in his career after earning a spot on the all-conference team in 2016.  Thorogood led the Sabres with 15 goals on the year and also ranked second on the squad with 19 assists and 34 points.  The Sabre forward was fourth in the NCHA for total points and tied for fifth in the conference for goals scored.  He is currently tied for the career lead in games played with 110, tied for fifth with eight game-winning goals and ninth for total points with 107.

Stewart earned a spot on the All-NCHA team for the first time in his career after scoring 12 goals with 24 assists for 36 points.  Stewart ranked third in the NCHA for total points and was second in the conference for assists, he also ranked tied for seventh in Marian history for assists in a single season.  Stewart is tied for second for most assists in a career with 80 and finished eighth in program history with 108 points.  This season, he had nine games where he recorded multiple points with two of those games being multi-goal games.

As for weekly awards, Marian was well represented once again this season with seven NCHA weekly accolades and Team of the Week recognition five times.  Vorva led the way with NCHA Defensive Player of the Week recognitions being honored three times.  Thorogood added a pair of NCHA Offensive Player of the Week awards, while Stewart and sophomore Clay Cross were each named NCHA Offensive Player of the week once.  Mangone led the way with recognition from being honored twice along with senior captain Curtis Lewington, while Stewart and Thorogood were recognized once.

Lewington also put together a career-year with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in his senior campaign.  Lewington was also a key skater for the Sabres on the power play where he recorded six power play goals.