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That winning attitude

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

Winning, it doesn’t come easy.

There are a bunch of different factors on why a team wins and loses. Having players that have a winning attitude can go a long way to having a successful team.

Wherever Niagara University hockey player Sara Primiano has gone she has won. She is just a winner. It doesn’t matter if it’s hockey, soccer, checkers, Primiano just knows how to win.

She has that type of mentality. Losing isn’t in her vocabulary. It’s hard to find players like Primiano, but Niagara did, and they are better off for it.

“Having a winning attitude is all about seeking the positives. If you begin to trust your strong suits your confidence will grow. Beating yourself up over a mistake you made only holds you back, you have to move on and just learn from it,” stated Primiano. “As a leader, it is my job to encourage my teammates to perform to the best of their abilities. Before every game I like to remind my team that no matter how good or how bad our opponent might be, it doesn’t determine the outcome of the game. It’s a matter of using the skills you learned at practice and utilizing them the best you can.”

A leader is something that Primiano is. She leads by example. Primiano has been a leader ever since her days at Mount St. Mary Academy. Whether it was on the soccer team, or playing for the Monsignor Martin hockey team, Primiano’s teammates always looked up to her.

When she got to Niagara, and started playing for the ACHA D2 team, is was just a matter of time before her college teammates saw what everyone else already knew - that you can put your trust in Primiano to lead a team to great things.

“I am incredibly honored to be a captain of our team, it truly is one of my greatest achievements,” stated Primiano. “I am glad that my coaches, teammates, and fellow captains trust me and my leadership. All that matters to me is supporting my teammates and pushing them to be the best players they can be.”

Hockey players are just different. There is this sense of family when it comes to playing hockey. It’s more different that most sports. Sure every sport will say they are a family, but hockey truly is.

Niagara is no different. There is just something about this team that screams family. Primiano, along with her fellow captains, makes sure to encourage a family-like structure. They will do the team-bonding stuff outside of games, and practice, to make sure everyone is on the same page - and feel at home.

“We are all very close and have a great time when we’re together. Our coaches do a great job pushing us to be the best we can and they provide a safe and happy environment, which plays a big role in our team’s chemistry,” stated Primiano. “My fellow captains and I make it our top priority to encourage a family-like structure. We plan team bonding events such as pasta dinners, going to other team’s events together on campus, hikes at the gorge and more! We want to be approachable so our teammates feel safe and well taken care of whenever someone has a problem or just needs to chat. At the end of the day we aren’t just a team, we are a family.”

You could say that was one of the things Primiano was looking for when she started looking at colleges while at MSM. Primiano wanted to continue her hockey career, but also make sure she was getting the top-notch education she wanted.

While she was looking at school’s outside of the Western New York area, Primiano found out that Niagara had a ACHA team. While at Niagara, Primiano could get the best of both worlds. She was able to still play college hockey while attending a great university.

“When I was applying for colleges, I was only applying to schools and touring away from my hometown in hopes to find a college that didn’t only offer a beneficial education, but also women’s hockey,” stated Primiano. “When I found out Niagara was building a women’s ACHA hockey program, I was ecstatic. Not only did Niagara offer a competitive hockey program and great education, it was also close to my family and my home, which was important to me. Coming to Niagara was a no-brainer.”

When many hear about club hockey, they snicker. They feel like it’s just a bunch of kids in college looking for something to do during the winter. What many don’t understand is that club hockey is very competitive.

Club hockey is college hockey. Primiano, and her teammates, put in just as much time as those who are playing DI, II or III. These young ladies just aren’t going out there to have fun. They are going out there to win a championship, something they already did.

“As the saying goes, club hockey is college hockey. My teammates, coaches and I are dedicated to our team and our success, just like any NCAA team out there. The league is a lot more competitive than most people tink,” stated Primiano. “The entire program at Niagara spends countless hours on and off the ice to prepare for games. When we made it to Nationals in Boston last year, the experience was nothing like I expected it to be. Every team that made it to Boston worked hard for their ranking and took the tournament seriously. I was blown away by the talent and dedication every team possessed.”

Like most programs it starts with recruiting. Niagara takes it’s recruiting very seriously. The coaching staff goes out and looks for the right players to fit the program. The players will even give recruits tours, and make them feel like one big family.

But, unlike a school sponsored sport, club hockey does have to get sponsorships from local business to help defray the cost of traveling, and hopefully going to Nationals. Niagara has a bunch of different sponsorship opportunities for those that are looking to help the program.

“Our women’s hockey program takes recruiting very seriously. The coaches spend a lot of time researching and scouting for new talent to help grow our program. Even the players have spent time giving recruits tours, answering any questions a recruit might have, and even giving them a place to stay on campus if needed. We treat our recruits like family, just like how we treat our own teammates,” stated Primiano. “Our sponsors are incredibly supportive of our program. We have a sponsorship proposal with different opportunities that a potential sponsor can participate in. We look to Alumni and businesses that want to encourage the growth and future of Niagara women’s hockey.”

On the ice, Primiano is your typical defensive defenseman. If you are looking for her to score goals and light the lamp, that won’t be her”. She will pinch in when she needs to, but her game making sure she clears out the defensive zone.

“I do prefer playing a more defensive role on the team. Holding the blue line in the offensive zone and clearing the defensive zone is crucial in a fast paced game. A turnover could happen in seconds and it’s a defenseman’s priority to make sure you do everything you can to prevent the other team from scoring,” stated Primiano. “I see myself as more of a play maker. Helping develop plays is my strong suit since I have a good view of the play and where my teammates are positioned in front of me majority of the time. With her vision on the ice, Primiano sees herself as more of a playmaker, helping to develop the play for her teammates.”

Not the tallest player on the ice, Primiano makes sure she uses her proper angles when taking on the opposing teams best players. If she thought about her size out there, and how some others players are taller than her, Primiano knows it could lead her to be timid - and lead to injury.

If you have ever seen Primiano play, the word timid isn’t something that people would say about her.

“I always try to make sure I don’t go into plays timidly. If you think too much about size differentiation and worry about possibly losing a battle or getting hurt, you're most likely going to lose the battle or get hurt,” stated Primiano. “Having speed, grit and a proper angle on my opponent also plays a big role in my style of play.”

Off the ice, Primiano puts the work in the classroom. It’s not easy being a student-athlete. The homework doesn’t stop because you might be on a road trip that weekend. For many, it’s all about time management.

“Being a student-athlete is all about time management. It comes down to finding a routine that works best for you. Sometimes you have to multi-task,” stated Primiano. “I often find myself doing homework and studying in hotels and buses when our team is on road trips. It’s also important to make time for downtime whether it’s taking a nap, picking up a new hobby or hanging out with friends to help support your mental health and prevent burnout.”

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