(photo credit: SNHUPenmen)

Last winter, in just his second season coaching at SNHU, Head Coach Sean Walsh led the men’s ice hockey team to a Northeast-10 Championship victory over rival Saint Anselm College.

“[The season] was an emotional ride, but the boys got the job done in the end,” said Walsh, the 2018-2019 Coach of the Year. “They were a very close-knit group with a lot of leadership and a highly competitive attitude.”

Walsh attributed this competitive atmosphere to the upperclassmen on the team, including Kurt Gutting (’20), Brett Strawn (Gr.), DJ Goldstein (’20), and Brian O’Callaghan (’20). Gutting was named NE10 Goalkeeper of the Year and Most Outstanding Player during the NE10 Championship game last year.

While the team is coming into the 2019-2020 season with twenty underclassmen and only eight upperclassmen or graduate students, one of their youngest rosters yet, the success of the team lies in “aiming for the same goals and stepping up to the team’s needs,” said Walsh, who also noted that he likes the odds of the veteran presence mixed with newer players.

As the team is gearing up for their season, they recognize they have a strong history to live up to.

The 2019 NE-10 champions no longer have the benefit of being known as the “underdogs.” Instead, the team has a target on their backs, as the rest of the division and NE10 teams look to take their place as the reigning champions.

One of their biggest competitors includes Colby College, who made the NCAA Division III Frozen Four in 2017.

Within the NE10, the strongest competitors include Saint Anselm, who placed first at the top of the preseason coaches’ poll, along with Assumption College and Saint Michael’s College, placing third and fourth.

Despite having the pressure from last season weighing on their backs, Walsh believes there will be similar results to come.

“[This group is] the deepest team I’ve ever had, and one of the most competitive. They are willing to contribute [to the team] and fight for their place,” said Walsh. “It’s truly a unique mix and I’m excited for this upcoming season.”

The Penmen made their debut on November 1 against Bryn Athyn College. Their next home game is set to take place on Saturday, November 30 against Morrisville at 1:50 p.m.