Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Former UNH Captain Josh Ciocco Runs for Charity

It's NCAA Tournament time. UNH hockey players are aiming for peak performance on the road to Manchester, and hopefully, Pittsburgh. Former UNH Captain Josh Ciocco remembers what it's all about. In his four seasons at UNH, Ciocco and the Wildcats played in the NCAA tournament every year.

This year, as the ice on the ponds is melting and the trees are starting to bud, Josh Ciocco is on a road of his own. On Monday, April 15th Josh will run the first marathon of his life. Not just any marathon, the Boston Marathon.

As many UNH fans know, Josh is the Assistant Coach of the Milton Academy varsity hockey team and prime contributor to the U.S. Hockey Report - the premier amateur hockey publication. So what's a hockey player - built to make quick stops and starts and sprint within the confines of a hockey rink - doing in a marathon? It's all for a great cause, the Joe Andruzzi Foundation to Beat Cancer. Andruzzi, the former offensive lineman for the New England Patriots, battled and beat lymphoma in 2007. Joe and his wife Jen run the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which provides financial assistance for patients and their families as well as funding pediatric brain cancer research.

Supporting Josh's effort and contributing to the Joe Andruzzi Foundation couldn't be easier. Simply go to Josh Ciocco's Fundraisers and donate whatever you can. All contributions are fully tax deductible.

Recently, I had an opportunity to interview Josh about his upcoming marathon for charity. He also generously provided an analysis of what it takes to succeed in the NCAA Tournament and UNH's chances.

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): UNH Hockey fans will be interested to know that you will be running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the JOE ANDRUZZI FOUNDATION INC. Would you tell us a little about this charity and how you got involved with them?
  Josh Ciocco:  In a nutshell, the Joe Andruzzi Foundation raises money for families dealing with economic hardships due to the financial burdens associated with cancer treatments. Dealing with the mental and physical challenge of cancer is more than enough for any individual and their family members---adding financial burdens into the mix is simply devastating for some families.

Mike Lowry: How is your training for the Marathon coming along?
Josh Ciocco: Marathon training is extremely time consuming. I have been running to stay fit since I stopped playing, but usually 3-5 miles at a time. You really have to budget a lot of time to prep for a marathon---the long runs take up to 3 hours!
I have had my ups and downs. Sometimes I run 15 miles and feel great. The next week I will run about the same distance and I can barely walk by the end of the run. It is a mental and physical grind for sure.

Josh Ciocco (Photo:
Lowry: During your 4 years at UNH, the team qualified for the NCAA Tournament every year. Your sophomore season (2004-05), the Wildcats beat Harvard in the opening round but then lost a close one to Denver - the eventual NCAA Champion. The other three years, UNH didn't win in the first round. In general, what does it take for a team to advance to the Frozen Four?
Ciocco: Three things: You have to be good, you have to have goaltending, and you have to be lucky.
Personally, I do not like the single game elimination format. I think you need a minimum best of three to figure out who the best team really is. Anything can happen in a single elimination game---this adds to the excitement of the game, which is what the NCAA likes about the format.
I think if the tournament was a best of three series you would see more consistency and the best teams would be rewarded. It is rare that the best team in college hockey actually wins the whole thing---it happens, but not all the time.

Lowry: Your senior year at UNH, you captained a team that rose to #1 in late January (2007) and entered the NCAA tournament as the 3rd-ranked team. This year's team also rose to #1 midseason but slowly moved down to #10 in the second half. Do you see similarities and differences between your team and the current Wildcats squad? For UNH to reach the Frozen Four this season, what will be their keys to success?
Ciocco: Well, I am not in the locker room of the current team so I cannot speak of the challenges they have faced in the second half of the season. My senior year the team was really rolling and we got hit with some injuries to key players.
I remember we lost Mike Radja (1st line center) for about a month, Jacob Micflikier (1st line winger) for like 3 weeks, and Brett Hemingway (1st line winger) for the hockey east tournament games. It was hard to get things rolling because the lines were constantly shifting.
I remember the NCAA game against Miami well—we were the better team, outplayed them, but their goalie had a good day. Not much you can do.
The bottom line is UNH has made it to the tournament again. They have enough talent to beat anyone. The team who gets the momentum first will likely win.
DeSmith has to be good. The bottom line is DeSmith was the top goalie in Hockey East the first half of the year. The second half the top goalies were Gillies and Hellebuyck. If DeSmith is the best goalie in the tournament, UNH will go far---if he isn’t, they won’t go far.
It’s a lot of pressure, but that is the reality of single elimination games. You live and die by your goaltending—just like in football you won’t go anywhere without a quarterback and in baseball your pitcher can win and lose you a game.


Blogger michelle carter said...

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Jul 20, 2013, 11:22:00 PM  

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