Junior defenseman Ryan Staffen goes for the puck at the Lehigh-Lafayette ice hockey match on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. The Lehigh Mountain Hawks beat the Lafayette Leopards 5-4 in overtime.(Chris Barry/B&W staff)

Lehigh ice hockey completes bounce-back season


After a four-win season last year, the Lehigh hockey team bounced back this season with an appearance in the Eastern College Hockey Association playoffs.

The team completed its season Friday with a first round exit in the playoffs against Drexel University, finishing with a 11-14-1 record.

Over the season, the team was helped by contributions from point leaders, sophomore forwards Chris Ramondelli and Kevin McGee, and from a talented freshmen class. Ramondelli and McGee finished fourth and 13th, respectively, in points in the Division I American Collegiate Hockey Association.

This is an achievement for these players, considering most players in the association are 24 and 25 years old, and had about 31-35 games to score their points. Ramondelli and McGee are 20 years old and played in only 25 games this season.

Despite its early exit in the playoffs, the team triumphed in many tough games against strong opponents. For this season’s match-up against Lafayette College at the PPL Center in Allentown, the Hawks held off the Leopards after blowing a 4-1 lead. The team defeated its rivals 5-4 in overtime off a Ramondelli goal. It also squeezed by Villanova University 7-6 in overtime and beat West Chester University in back-to-back nights 6-4 and 6-5.

“That was good character game for us (against Villanova),” coach Tom Laessig said. “That team is going to Nationals from our league.”

West Chester represented tough competition, as the team plays in a more challenging league than Lehigh, according to Laessig. However, the Mountain Hawks managed to beat them twice. Junior defenseman Ryan Staffen was among the players on the team who saw those games as signs that the Hawks were improving.

The team hopes to build on these two late-season victories going forward and improve with help from the sophomore and freshmen classes.

“(The freshmen) were really important,” Staffen said. “The depth that they provided was really helpful for our team.”

Unlike many of the other sports at Lehigh, the hockey team has a long winter break during which they do not practice as a team at all. The team did not have a game for a month and 10 days until it faced off against Drexel on back-to-back nights, losing 15-4 and 11-4.

“It doesn’t take away from our chemistry for the most part,” Staffen said. “You’re off your skates for pretty much a month. You lose a step. You lose a little bit of timing and that’s the thing, in a game, especially in a close game, one second or five feet could make a big difference.”

Despite the improvement from a year before, there is still room for improvement for Lehigh.

“Defensively, our team improved throughout the year, but it’s something we should work on during the offseason,” Ramondelli said. “If we can tighten up defensively, we’ll be in good shape for next year.”


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