David Vallorani has seen his share of thrilling wins and sobering losses as a River Hawk Hockey player, but the senior winger hit a new high point at the recent University of Connecticut Toyota Holiday Classic.
“This was a special win because it was the first championship trophy that I and the other seniors have won as River Hawks,” says Vallorani of the game, secured by his overtime goal against UConn. “It was a great feeling, and we look forward to having such success and hopefully winning another championship this year.”
The championship also marks the first time that a Hockey East team has won the title.
For Vallorani’s part, scoring three goals (including his 100th making him the 40th to do so in team history) and several assists, earned him the Most Valuable Player title in the tournament, Co-Player of the Week from Hockey East and UMass Lowell’s Northwestern Mutual Athlete of the Week.
Similar awards and titles have been plentiful for the players this season. Vallorani hasn’t let the accolades obscure the work ahead.
“We feel that we have had some success this year but we still have the second half to take care of,” Vallorani says, “We know that's it's not going to be easy and we’ll have to continue working hard to get the results we want. We focus on winning every game at that moment and not worrying about the next one until it arises.”
As the River Hawks continue improving their 12-5-0 record, fans and professionals alike recognize the differences between this year and last year’s teams. Vallorani credits hard work by the players and staff with turning the team around and changing their playing style.
“We're a hard, fast and tenacious team. Coach Bazin has done a tremendous job with all of us in making us better players,” Vallorani says of the new head coach, Norm Bazin '94. “The biggest surprise was the freshmen. They’re all very skilled and like to work hard, and that's the identity we’re looking for.”
As upperclassmen on the team, Vallorani and the three other seniors and three juniors have stepped up to mentor the large group of sophomores and freshmen on the team. Their experience has helped bring the team together no matter the score.
“When a game is going well for us it’s easy to cheer and let guys know they're doing a good job. It's hard when a game is not going well but as a senior I know that it's important to stay positive on the bench and keep the guys going,” says Vallorani, a marketing and management major. “When I was a freshman and things weren't going well the older guys were always positive and a lot of times we were able to come back and win.”