Dated: December 7, 2013
By: Anthony Vecchiarello
The State University of New York at Maritime is a college known for their discipline and patriotism towards the military: the Army, Navy, and Marines. Located in Throggs Neck, NY, a 35-minute drive from the school is the place where dreams are made on the ice instead of on the battlefield. Chelsea Piers sports arena in Stamford, CT is the home of the Maritime Men’s Ice Hockey team and program.
The Maritime Privateers have made it to the Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference (MCHC) playoffs in their last three years and won a Championship in their Division 3 league last season. During their last season, the Privateers also won two games in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Atlantic Regional’s and qualified for the ACHA National Championship finishing in the twelfth spot.
The Maritime Ice Hockey team strives to have a similar season this year if not a better one. However, with a 6-3-2 record so far in the season, they have a long road if they’re going to get anywhere near last year’s position. The person responsible for the team’s success and for building the team from the ground up is Head Coach Matthew Garofalow.
34-year-old Garofalow is in his fifth year as Head Coach and eighth year at Maritime. Five years ago, Garofalow’s first season as Head Coach held a record of 0-15. In the years that followed, Garofalow immersed more discipline into the Ice Hockey program by extending their practices to 3 hours from an hour and a half. Garofalow also created an off-the-ice program and held weekly meetings in the film room to discuss opponents. The second year his team was 6-11 and last year the team finished with a 27-4 record, the highest in their school’s history.
Garofalow has built his coaching principals and is inspired by former NHL New Jersey Devils coach Jacques Lemaire.
With nine more games until the playoffs, Garofalow admitted his team has a tough schedule this year winning and losing most of their games by a mere score and playing against such competitive Ice Hockey schools such as Farmingdale, Bryn Athyn, and Albany to name a few.
Garofalow, from Norwalk CT, and a former hockey player at Boston College is proud of his athletic administration, his new ice rink, and players. The Privateers old ice rink did not even have a locker room.
“I’ve been blessed with amazing athletes,” Garofalow said.
Senior Captain Dan Ticks of last season is now a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army and now coaches a team up in Buffalo, NY. There was also a total of six Academic All-American athletes last year on the team.
Garofalow explained that Maritime is an academically competitive school in which the majority of his players are double majoring. They need no motivation on the ice since Garofalow has built a culture of student athletes on a varsity level.
Garofalow understands that the athlete’s play their best and that some even went above and beyond in skills this season. One such player that has shined this year is Senior Nick Galli. Galli is an Academic All-American, has been on the team for four years and also plays Baseball during the spring. “He’s head and shoulders over everyone,” Garofalow stated.
A couple of other players that should also be recognized this year for their excellence are Senior Captain Forward Steven Altini, and Senior Defense Alternative Captains, Ross Freund, and Dillon Dolansky.
The Maritime Privateers may have good players with good chemistry, but that still does not help them win games. Garofalow has upbeat practices to play to each of the player’s strengths and weaknesses. He recently has been working with the players on special teams.
On Saturday Dec., 7 at 8pm Maritime will face-off against Bryn Athyn and play Southern Connecticut on Sunday Dec. 8. Unfortunately, Bryn Athyn already defeated Maritime in a 3-2 loss last month. Garofalow understands that in order to win this game, they will have to play tough and demonstrate “hard-nosed hockey,” Garofalow explained.
Garofalow will do what he always does before a game; calmly go over key issues so that the game is simplified. Garofalow is not a coach for riling up his team in the locker room, that is the job of veteran Assistant Coach William Ducey. Ducey has coached and played Hockey his whole life and is the Director of Hockey Operations at Maritime.
It will be a tall task this season if Maritime makes it to the Nationals. The ACHA National Championship last year helped the Privateers increase their speed in the game. The Nationals will be held in Coral Springs, FLA from March 11-15 in 2014. If Maritime manages to make it to the Nationals, Garofalow is convinced they will play better.
“Just as long as there are no more letdowns for the rest of the year,” Garofalow said laughing.
Aside from Hockey, Garofalow said that the vast majority of his players will likely graduate from Maritime and get a $70000 salary job working on the ships, either in the engine room or on a cruise line.
Knowing this, Garofalow believes it is important for all his players to be involved on campus, to get good grades and tutor.
“I want them to be good human beings,” Garofalow added.
Sadly, the percentage of these players making it to pro-hockey is slim to none. In the end, Hockey is just another game.