Welcome to a series called Under the Cage, where we go under the cage and inside the helmet to better get to know the guys that make up the Terps hockey team. Our first installment features senior captain Zack Arden.
Zack Arden has played hockey his whole life. Arden scored 18 goals and registered 34 assists for 52 points in his senior campaign. It was his second straight year leading the team in goals, assists and points scored. But who is Zack Arden off the ice?
Zack is a Government and Politics major at Maryland. Right now, he is a youth hockey coach. After he graduates, he wants to go to law school with the eventual goal of working as a sports agent or in sports management. One thing is for sure, he is not done playing hockey.
“I was just thinking today, I am missing the competitiveness and the competition,” Zack said. “That’s really what you miss the most. So definitely getting right into it, I am going to play some men’s league for sure at the highest level I can to stay competitive.”
What else did Zack have to say?
Q - How much did this hockey team mean to you?
Arden - “It is hard to state how important it was in words. I started playing NCAA hockey at Skidmore College, and then I transferred back home to Maryland, and that’s how I ended up here. I came here knowing full well I was going to play on the hockey team. This season was the most important thing. I wish we could have gotten further but it was definitely a great season.”
Q - What is something that people don’t know about you?
Arden - “I can recite all of the U.S. Presidents in order.”
Q - Any hidden talent?
Arden - “History trivia and knowing random facts.”
Q - Favorite sports memory?
Arden - “Winning the state championship my senior year in high school. Also when I scored the game-winning goal my sophomore year in the state championship game. I guess I am cheating by picking two, but those are my favorite sports memories.”
Q - Ovechkin or Crosby?
Arden - “If I could say Ovi twice, I would say Ovi twice.”
Q- Most frustrating or hardest thing about hockey?
Arden - “The amount of work you have to put in off the ice to be an elite player. The stuff that may not be as fun. You have to find a way to make it competitive.”
Q - Most fun and easiest thing about hockey?
Arden -“Winning. But the easiest thing is when you develop chemistry with your teammates. You know where everyone on the ice is going to be.”
Q - Offense, defense or special teams?
Arden -“My favorite phase of the game is even strength at the end of the game tied, up or down one goal. When we are on offense or trying to protect the lead, I think that is my favorite.”
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.
The Terps fell to Navy 4-3 in overtime of the consolation game of the Crab Pot tournament on Saturday in Annapolis. It was the second consecutive year that Maryland lost to Navy in overtime of a Crab Pot game, losing 5-4 last year in the opening round.
Patrick Havey put the Terps on the board first with a blast from the blueline in the opening frame. Three minutes into the second period, while on the penalty kill, Nathan Hefner flew down the boards and found teammate Thomas Murphy with a centering pass. Murphy put in the back of the net for a short handed goal to put the Terps up 2.
Navy got on the board with 13 minutes left in the period. Then with 4.9 seconds left in the period, Luke Turk scored the game tying goal for the Midshipmen. Navy added a third unanswered goal in the third as Derek Golembrosky scored a shorthanded breakaway goal.
About halfway through the third period, Navy defenseman Joe Giannini attacked Maryland forward Thomas Murphy with what appeared to be a chokeslam style takedown. Hefner came to Murphy’s defense and wrestled Giannini away from his teammate. Giannini and Hefner were both hit with 12 minutes worth of penalties, two minutes for roughing and a 10 minute game misconduct. The play ended with a Navy Power Play as Terps had an additional roughing minor tacked on.
After the game, Maryland Head Coach Jim Gaudet praised Hefner. “Nate is trying to protect his teammate and I am good with that.”
“That guy was a lot bigger than Murphy so I just thought I’d step in and help him out,” said Hefner, who is in his first semester playing for the Terps after transferring in from UMBC. “It’s always hard coming in as the new guy and not knowing anyone, but the guys have all been welcoming. I know that every other guy on the team would have done the same thing for me.”
With six and half minutes left in the game, Clark LeDane tied it up for the Terps. Maryland then found themselves in a familiar place against Navy, headed for overtime. Unfortunately for the Terps, Navy scored a 3 v. 3 overtime goal to win the consolation game.
big storyline from Saturday’s loss was that the Terps were outshot 50-35. Despite the loss and being peppered with shots all night, Maryland goalie Travis Danko played well. Danko stopped 46 of 50 shots for a .920 save percentage.
“Yesterday I didn’t feel like I was in quite a good rhythm to be honest. I really wanted that start today as a tune-up for playoffs,” said Danko.
Gaudet thought it was important for Danko to rebound with a good game. “To get a game like that under your belt going into the playoffs is pretty important.”
“Danko give us a chance to win every night, and that’s all you can really ask for,” added Hefner.
Looking ahead for the Terps, they open up the MACH playoffs against Delaware on Friday February 16th at 3:20 p.m.