FAIRFIELD, Conn.— The Sacred Heart University men's ice hockey team announced the team captains for the upcoming season and the end of season team awards for this past year. Rising Seniors Liam Clare and Mike Crocock, and junior Zach Tsekos and sophomore Marc Johnstone will serve as captains for next season.
Clare and Crocock will don the "C" for the second consecutive season while Tsekos and Johnstone will serve as assistant captains.
"We are excited to add Zack Tsekos and Marc Johnstone as assistant captains to our team for next year. They were elected by their teammates, which says they have earned the respect of their peers" said head coach CJ Marottolo. "Adding Zack and Marc to work alongside our captains Mike Crocock and Liam Clare will give our group four young men who understand our culture and will help our group continue to grow to be the best we can be."
Clare recorded his third straight season with double-digit assists in his first season as captain. He finished the year with 12 points and second on the team with 52 blocked shots in 33 games. Crocock had a breakout junior season for the Pioneers, setting a new career-high in points with 10 on three goals and seven assists.
Tsekos was a standout center for the Pioneers in his sophomore campaign with a team-leading .479% on face-offs. He also led the team with 18 assists and finished third with 26 points. Johnstone was a rookie sensation in his first season with SHU, earning Atlantic Hockey All-Rookie Team honors. He finished the year second on the team with 30 points on 13 goals and 17 assists.
The Pioneers also announced the annual end of year awards for performances during the 2017-18 season.
Three skaters earned most improved for the season as Vito Bavaro and Austin McIlmurray along with Jackson Barliant claimed the yearly honor. Bavaro blew past his rookie totals as he paced the team with 32 points and 16 goals in his second season. He also recorded 16 assists as the first sophomore since 2010 to reach 30-plus points in a season. McIlmurray tripled his goal total from his freshman season with 14 this season. He added 11 assists to finish fourth on the team in points with 25. Barliant appeared in a career-high 38 games his junior season lighting the lamp a career-high six times. He recorded the triple overtime game-winner against RIT on March 3.
Ruslan Rakhmatov was named best defensive player with a breakout sophomore season. He recorded three goals and 16 assists for 19 points to lead the Pioneer defensive corp. Rakhmatov also blocked 48 shots on defense, good for third on the team.
After earning the team's rookies of the year award last season, Tsekos was selected as this year's Scholar-Athlete. The Business Economics major carried a perfect 4.0-grade point average in 2017-18. On the ice, he recorded four multi-assist games in his sophomore game leading the way with 18 helpers on the year.
Matt Tugnutt earned the Coaches Award which is presented to the member of the SHU Hockey team whose determination and desire has contributed most to team morale and spirit. The rookie recorded 24 points on seven goals and 17 assists in 36 games. He was a stalwart in Atlantic Hockey play scoring 20 of his 24 points in 26 league games. He ranked top-15 in the league with 15 assists during league play.
Johnstone was selected as the Rookie of The Year after earning Atlantic Hockey All-Rookie Team honors. The three-time rookie of the week honoree recorded 30 points in his rookie campaign ending the season top-20 Atlantic Hockey point scoring. Johnstone recorded six multi-point games this season finishing tied for the lead in AHA rookie scoring.
Crocock earned the Peter Downey Award which is presented to the member of the SHU Hockey team who, through sportsmanship, spirit, and ability, has best served the finest traditions of Sacred Heart hockey as exemplified by the late Peter Downey, the first head hockey coach and builder of the Sacred Heart hockey program. Crocock reached double-digit points for the first time in his career in 2017-18. He recorded three goals this season including two game-winners against RIT including the first tally in the Pioneers 2-0 win on March 4 to advance to the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals.
Stay tuned for information on the Pioneers 2018-19 schedule.