Stevenson men’s ice hockey’s year to remember

A look back at the historic, record-setting 2023-2024 season from Stevenson men’s ice hockey
Mens ice hockey poses after capturing second consecutive MAC title
Men’s ice hockey poses after capturing second consecutive MAC title
Emma Hartman

They knew.


Stevenson men’s ice hockey knew that what was in store for the 2023-2024 season. With victory in sight, the Mustangs made it clear to each other early on that they were not going to fall short of any expectations.

Together, this team put together one of the most historic runs that Stevenson men’s ice hockey has ever seen. They were ranked 12th by the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC), set a program record 19 wins in a single season, and battled their way to the UCHC championship game where they ultimately fell to Utica University 3-2.

This will be a hockey season long remembered at Stevenson University.

UCHC Goaltender of the Year Ty Outen knew that something special was brewing within Stevenson men’s ice hockey before the season even started. Photo: Sabina Moran

The confidence was high right out of the gate, and players like juniors goalie Ty Outen and forward Liam McCanney were ready to get right to work.

“Knowing the team we had and the work all those guys were putting in, I knew that we could do something special,” said Outen, the 2023-2024 UCHC Goaltender of the Year.

McCanney echoed Outen’s excitement.

“I had a really good feeling going into the season with the incoming and returning players [we had],” McCanney said. “I believe we came into the season with the UCHC championship game as the goal and kept that mindset throughout the whole year.”

All the Mustangs did during the season was grind and win.

They put together a 21-6-1 record with a 15-4-1 conference record. The Mustangs swept multiple season series against conference opponents like Arcadia University, Chatham University, Lebanon Valley College, Nazareth University, Neumann University, and Manhattanville College. Their offensive approach indicated an unrelenting desire to score and gain ground as they led the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) in goals scored (107), shots on goal (1,043), and assists (173).

Outen said that the ‘Stangs emphasis on defense is what enabled the offense such plentiful opportunities to score.

“We knew we had a lot of very skilled players and honestly focused more on the defensive zone frustrating teams and leading to more offensive opportunities,” he said.

McCanney, the 2023-2024 MAC Offensive Player of the Year, cites their Nov. 3 overtime victory at Utica as a huge turning point in the season. That victory gave Stevenson the confidence boost that got them going in their pursuit to the championship.

In a duel that went to a shootout, Outen was flawless through four rounds in the net, leaving the window open for forward Frank Vitucci to find the back of the net and seal the deal for the Mustangs.

“Being able to come in and win against a high-ranked team solidified our belief we could make it to the finals,” Vitucci said.

As the chase for the postseason drew nearer, the Mustangs just kept getting hotter. They ended the regular season on a 10-2 stretch that included an 8-game winning streak spanning from Jan. 12 to Feb. 3. Forward Kyle Lightfoot was thrilled by the end-of-the-season hot streak primarily because of the grit and fight the team showed in close contest that they found themselves behind in.

“I think having that momentum and facing the adversity of gaming back in some of those games to keep the streak alive really helped us as a team,” Lightfoot said. “[It] brought us closer together to win that quarter finals game versus Kings, then eventually winning in overtime versus Wilkes in the semis.”

Lightfoot and the boys knew that they still had to maintain focus for the rest of the season.

“We always had the goal of going all the way, so just taking one game at a time, focusing on that opponent, really helped us climb all the way to the UCHC finals,” Lightfoot said.

Outen echoed Lightfoot’s comments.

“It was important to respect the team we were playing regardless of standings or records, and understand we have our own level we have to play to every game,” he said.

But still, the team could feel the magic building.

The moment that forward Kyle Lightfoot sent the Mustangs to the UCHC championship game with a game-winning goal against Wilkes. Photo: Sabina Moran

“Throughout the locker room every game as the season came to the close and starting playoffs you could feel the excitement and the buy in from every one of those guys,” Outen added.

It became a series of events that just kept piling on and kept the Mustangs moving forward.

First, it was claiming the No. 2 seed and the record 19th win on Senior Day. Then, it was a 5-1 dismantling of Kings College in the quarterfinals. Then, an unforgettable semifinal matchup against Wilkes in which Lightfoot sent the Mustang faithful in a frenzy with a game-winning OT goal to send the Mustangs to the championship.

On March 2, the Mustangs entered Utica’s ice for the moment they had worked for all year. It was time for some championship hockey, the UCHC final.

Down 3-1 with 10:04 left in the final quarter, Vitucci’s goal brought the Mustangs within one goal at 3-2. Unfortunately, that is how the score remained for the rest of the game. Utica claimed the UCHC championship.

It was an unfortunate end to such an incredible season for Stevenson men’s ice hockey. However, they left the rink and made their way home with their heads held high. For all that they compiled during the season, they had every reason to celebrate and smile even amidst a tough loss in the end.

“It wasn’t fun losing in the finals,” Lightfoot said. “Especially for our seniors who worked so hard to build the program up to what it is today, knowing how well we did as a team this year and how close we were as a team and is how we have been keeping our spirits up.”

Lightfoot added, “We also have a lot of positives to take away from this season with everything we accomplished as a team.”

Next year’s Mustangs will be coming off the heels of a championship appearance and the guys truly believe that this past season’s success has only set them up to make a run at it again next season and do it all again.

This time, they’ll make sure they get on the winning side and take the trophy home to ‘Stang Nation.

“We know [the championship is] within reach now,” McCanney said. “It’s about obtaining the goal.”

Forward Liam McCanney holds a special place for the 2023-2024 season in his heart, and is eager for another run at the championship next season. Photo: Sabina Moran

Outen feels the same way about next season.

“It just sets the bar for the next years to come we’ve seen what we can do and the things we need to improve so it means everything when it comes to future runs,” he said.

For now, as the Mustangs enjoy the offseason, they get to reminisce in the fact that they were a part of one of the best Stevenson men’s ice hockey teams in history. That is something they can carry with them, something that they do not take lightly.

“The main thing I’ll always remember from this season is the support,” Outen said. “Not just from the guys in the room but from everyone around the school, having the feeling of fighting every night for more than just yourself is what makes great programs.”

Lightfoot and McCanney are beyond thankful to be associated with the 2023-2024 Mustangs.

“Just being apart of season a close group of guys, we will remember each other for a long time, and remember the historic season we had all together,” Lightfoot said. “We as a team had a goal at the beginning of the season to make this all happen and seeing it really happen was a great sight to see.”

“I think we have a really special group of guys and I couldn’t be thankful enough to be apart of this great team and great season,” McCanney said.


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About the Contributors
Grant DeVivo
Grant DeVivo, Senior Sports Editor
Grant is a fifth-year graduate student from Westminster, Maryland. He acquired his B.S. in business communication in May, 2024, and he is now pursuing a master's in communication. He also plays catcher and third base for the Stevenson Mustang club baseball team.
Emma Hartman
Emma Hartman, Sports Photographer
Emma is a junior communication studies major with a minor in event planning. Outside of taking photos for The Villager, Emma also works for Stevenson Athletic Communications, NAVY Athletic Communications and is the social media manager for the Stevenson men's ice hockey team. Emma's goal after graduation is to do social media for a professional sports team.
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