Blue Streak JCU Club Hockey Sweeps week as the team is en route to 5th straight victory


Ashley McCall

The 2022-23 JCU Men’s Hockey Club team posing in their Hockey Fights Cancer shirts before the game against Buffalo.

Jack O'Rourke, Staff Reporter

When looking back to Fri., Oct. 28, the John Carroll University ACHA DI Hockey squad sat at a paltry record of 5-6-0. The team’s white flag by no means had been waved by JCU Head Coach Scott Shantery and his team, but the Blue Streaks urgently needed a breath of life. 

This fresh reset came via a ceremonious 2-1 overtime victory over the top 10 nationally ranked Pittsburgh Panthers. Continuing that success, the Blue Streaks handled business against conference foe Mercyhurst University on Sunday to provide a conference win as the Blue Streaks’ earned a winning record for the first time in more than a month and a half. 

Fast forward to this past weekend, the Blue Streaks were facing possibly their biggest week of the semester. The team sat ranked 44th in the nation due to the goal differential in a few early season contests, entering a three game slate which included rival Kent State on a unique Wednesday night game and two games against Buffalo during the weekend who stood a few spots ahead of Carroll. 

If the Blue and Gold struggled in this set of contests, all of the momentum from the Pitt win would have ceased to exist. But, aided by an emotional weekend, the Blue Streaks stormed through their competition and left zero doubt about how incorrect the national rankings were.

Possibly the biggest rival of JCU Club Hockey, the Kent State Golden Flashes came into town for a late night Wednesday tilt. The game started off slow as the Flashes and the Blue Streaks struggled to find strong opportunities against each other, however, strong goaltending and physicality have always made the Golden Flashes one of the toughest teams to bring down in the CHMA. 

The Blue and Gold were given a five minute power play just minutes into the contest which sent Kent State down a man early. Adam Unruh ‘24 continued his offensive tear with his third goal of the season as he deflected a puck from the backdoor to light the scoreboard for a Blue Streak lead. 

Adam Unruh takes a shot on goal during the Saturday game against Buffalo. (Kaitlyn Novicky)

On another power play towards the end of the first period, the Carroll captain and graduate student Max Wopperer beat the Kent goaltender under the arm to double the lead. Nearly one minute later, Matthew Commendatore ‘23 sent a slick pass to his much younger linemate Sam Herr ‘26 whose quick release sent the home team to the locker room leading by three goals following the first period.

The fourth and fifth John Carroll goals were special to a certain crowd. Tyler Lamark ‘24 and Tyler Putnam ‘24 played high school hockey together at North Allegheny High School in Pittsburgh, PA. 

The two former Tigers both placed beautiful shots sent bar-down to extend the lead to 5-0 for the Blue and Gold. Adding to the Blue Streak scoring was Max Kirth-Gruszczynski ‘23 who tallied his second goal of the season and Joe Primiano ‘26 who scored his fifth goal. Nate Cava ‘23 provided a dominant effort in net to secure a 7-1 win over the conference rival. 

The Blue Streaks returned to the ice on Sat., Nov. 12 eyeing a two game home set versus Buffalo. The Blue and Gold honored the Movember Foundation’s “Hockey Fights Cancer Night” and featured an open skate after the game with fans as the team aided in the fight against cancer. 

Entering the weekend, the Bulls were ranked No. 37 in the nation while boasting a 7-3-1 record thus far. 

If the Blue Streaks were a boxer, they struck quickly and swiftly via Putnam, a recurring theme on Saturday. Putnam found the back of the net five minutes into the contest and seven seconds later made a dancing move to hit Sean Deakin ‘25 with a perfect pass to extend the lead to two goals. The Bulls beat Cava for the first time of the night to cut the deficit to a goal upon entering the second period. 

Coming back for the second period, Primiano tipped a shot from Tristan Weigand ‘25 to place the lead at two before the Bulls responded to knock the lead back down a peg. 

For the second time of the week, Lamark and Putnam scored back to back. Ryan Young ‘25 found Lamark for a beautiful opportunity while Putnam beat the goalie high. Leading 5-2 entering the third period, Putnam completed his hattrick and Unruh scored his second goal of the week as the Blue Streaks finished off a sound win 7-3 on Saturday night. 

After a year and a half without starting for the Blue and Gold, on Sun. Nov. 13, senior Alex Smat was given the nod in net. Smat, one of the hardest workers on the roster, vastly improved in the offseason to the point where the Blue Streaks trusted him with a big task against a tough Buffalo team where he proved to be excellent. 

Some of the players posing during the open skate after their game on Saturday. (Kaitlyn Novicky)

A triumvirate of familiar scorers began the day as Primiano opened the scoring. Deakin followed it up with an “any leaguer” shot and Payton Fogarty ‘25 tallied on the power play. After an early second period goal from the Bulls, Max Richter ‘23 scored a beautiful goal when he was all alone, his first of two on the night. Richter’s dazzling moves and a late Young goal cemented a 6-3 victory. 

During this three game stretch, John Carroll outscored their opponents 20-7 and have extended their winning streak to five games. 

The team will return to action with two games this weekend as they get on the road for RIT and Oswego State. Both games will be broadcasted at