Warriors’ rapid rise results in title

March 21, 2019

Not many teams can boast such a season : 29 straight victories to finish with a national championship : but the Indiana Tech men’s hockey team is one of them.

With the hockey program still in its infancy, the future looks bright for the Warriors.

“It’s fantastic,” senior forward Alex Gregorich said. “We’ve been a program for five years and that we’ve been able to do this in such a short period of time, it speaks volumes for the culture and the foundation that they have here.”

The Warriors defeated Midland University 3-2 to capture the title at the North American Intercollegiate Hockey Association Tournament on Sunday at Antioch, Tennessee. They finished the season with a 34-3-0 record.

“Twenty-nine straight (victories) is hard to comprehend,” Gregorich said, after the Warriors were honored during the second intermission of the Komets’ 4-3 loss to the Kalamazoo Wings at Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday night.

“We honestly focused on ‘one period at a time,’ and the fact that we did that, one period after one period, game after game, it resulted in this trophy at the end of the year.”

Ryan Attwood had the championship-winning goal, off a rebound, with 24.4 seconds remaining in the game at the Ford Ice Center. Also scoring for the Warriors were Gregorich and Zach Bennett, who had given them a 2-0 lead.

“We’d been there before. The week before, we were in sort of a similar situation with (Michigan)-Dearborn in the WHAC tournament,” Warriors coach Frank DiCristofaro said.

“It was a scenario (Sunday) where we were up and they tied it in the third period, so I told them in the TV timeout, ‘Hey, we’ve been here before. Don’t get rattled. Stay the course. Do what we do.’ That composure, and our senior leadership, carried us through. No one was rattled on the bench. ... As a group, they came together and really pushed each other through. It was a real positive atmosphere on the bench. It was fantastic.”

Goalie Bryson Lineburg had 14 saves Sunday and the freshman finished his season with an 18-0-0 record.

Adam Jonak led the Warriors in scoring with 20 goals and 47 points, while Jarrett Pfeiffer had 20 goals and 45 points and Joel Holmberg added 27 goals and 44 points for the NAIA team.

Jonak and Nick Papandrea were first-team all-conference selections.

“We had depth,” Gregorich said. “We had five lines, seven defensemen and two goalies, and we just played phenomenally well. Every time we put someone on the ice, we had confidence they’d do their job and that’s what worked for us.”