The Terps have qualified for the ACHA Regional Playoffs after finishing ninth in the Southeast Region. This is the first time since 2013 that Maryland has qualified for regionals. The Terps open up play in Lynchburg, Virginia, against The College of New Jersey Lions on Friday at 6 p.m. This isn’t the first time these two teams have played this season. On November 10, the Terps beat the Lions 8-3.
How they got here:
The top eight teams in the region get autobids to the Regional playoffs, and the team's nine-12 only keep their spot if either they or one of the top eight teams win the conference championship. If a team outside of the top eight wins a conference championship, they get a bid to the Regional playoffs.
The Terps put together an impressive season that included quality wins over Navy, Liberty, Delaware, Rider and Rowan. They finished the season with a 19-9-1 record. This put them on the bubble for a Regional birth. They finished the season as the 9th ranked team in the region (out of 47).
Maryland entered the MACH Playoffs this past weekend knowing they had a good shot at Regionals, but they also knew that it wasn’t guaranteed. They beat Delaware in the opening round. After Wagner and Stevenson lost in the opening round, the Terps secured their spot in Regionals.
“It was pretty exciting,” said head coach Jim Gaudet. “We knew quite a few things had to happen for us not to make it. But having those two team eliminated there and securing our spot for sure got the guys excited. And beating Delaware in the first round of the MACH was something we really wanted to get done.”
The College of New Jersey finished the season with a 14-13-2 record and were ranked 25th in the Southeast. Although the Lions finished 25th in the region, they qualified for the Regional Playoffs after winning the Colonial States Conference Championship on February 18.
The last time the Terps made Regional Playoffs was in 2013. None of the current players or coaches were on that team. Head coach Jim Gaudet is in his third year with the team. Senior defenseman Benji Weiner said that this year’s group of guys is really the first group that Gaudet has been able to groom as his own. “It feels like four years paid off for this entire group that has been here,” Weiner said.
“It’s great to see guys who weren’t playing such a prominent role on the team when they were younger and now they are some of our go to guys,” Gaudet said. “It’s been great having these guys for the last couple of years, especially the guys who have been with me since we started. They really understand the type of hockey we are trying to play.”
“It’s a big accomplishment. Something that I have never been able to do in my four years here. We have worked hard all year so we definitely deserve to be where we are at,” added defenseman Rob Burns.
While they accomplished their goal of making Regionals, Maryland feels like they have more to offer.
“It was definitely one of our goals this year, but we don’t want to be satisfied with just Regionals. We think we’ve got a good team and we’ve got an opportunity to make some noise in Regionals,” said captain Zack Arden.
For now their focus is on The College of New Jersey.
“It starts with Friday. That’s what we are really focused on now. Seeing the pool how it is, we have already played a lot of the teams,” said Gaudet. “But there’s a lot of hockey to be played and it starts with Friday. It’s really important to take it one game at a time.”
The game plan isn’t much different this week.
“They are riding a hot goalie. We held them to 25 shots that game, so if we can put up a similar performance to that, I think we should have a good game against them,” Weiner said.
“Games can be broken down into battles. If you keep winning the little battles you eventually win the game,” said Burns.
“We’re gonna give them three periods for sure,” Weiner added.
Tag(s): UMD D2 Terps