By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
Nick Bevilacqua has already made history in the NCDC, as his most recent victory to end January was the 48th of his career. With that win, he tied for the NCDC goaltender wins record, shared (at least temporarily) with current Army goaltender Evan Szary, who had played with the South Shore Kings and Jersey Hitmen. Bevilacqua’s next victory will set a stand-alone record.
Next year, he’ll get the chance to face Szary 1-on-1 for the first time since the 2020-21 season, as Bevilacqua committed earlier this week to Bentley University. Bentley is an NCAA Division I institution playing in the Atlantic Hockey Association, of which Army is also a member.
Bevilacqua has skated in 84 career NCDC games to date, and his next (85th) appearance will also tie Szary for most games played by an NCDC goaltender. He already holds the record for most saves made by an NCDC goaltender at 2,693 as of Feb. 1.
“Bentley first reached out in the middle/end of November. We just kept in touch for a while and eventually the deal was offered in January. I think the coaches liked my character as a person, which is one of the main things many coaches look for,” said Bevilacqua. “I think they also liked my compete level when in the net.”
Bevilacqua, a 2003-born goaltender, is very familiar with Bentley having grown up not far from the Waltham, Mass., campus, just about 35 minutes away in Abington, Mass.
“Bentley is only 35 minutes away from home for me so I have been to campus multiple times before they even reached out to me regarding hockey,” he said. “Bentley is the perfect fit for me. I’ve always wanted to go into business, and with Bentley being one of the best business schools in the country, the academic portion was a no brainer. I plan on majoring in finance at Bentley. Hockey wise, it is a great team in a great conference that competes against great competition.”
The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders have been the best competition for every other team they’ve faced this year. The defending Dineen Cup Champions hold a commanding lead in the race for the regular season title, represented by the Founders Cup trophy. They have a 10-point lead on their nearest competition after recently sweeping the Islanders Hockey Club, their closest overall competitor. In the Atlantic Division, they haven’t mathematically clinched the top spot quite yet, but they aren’t far away as they hold a 29-point lead on second place. Bevilacqua joined this powerhouse this year after previously playing in the league for the former Boston Advantage.
“Winning is the culture at our organization. Everybody has bought into how we want to play, which has been huge in our success,” said Bevilacqua. “Being first in points is nice, but we are just taking it one game at a time. I think we just have to keep playing our game.
“The P.A.L. organization has been everything a player could ask for,” he added. “It is professional, competitive, and the most fun I’ve had playing hockey. They help kids’ development and move on to the next level. I decided to sign there in the off-season because of Coach Mike Marcou’s success in moving players on to the next level and also to give winning back-to-back Dineen Cups a shot.”
Bevilacqua is also glad that he returned to the Tier II NCDC for his third season in the league. He originally joined in 2020-21 and was part of the six-week Hub City Tampa event that year. After playing the 2021-22 season with the Northfield Mount Hermon School, he returned to the NCDC last season, posting a record of 21-8-3-1. This year, he put up a 20-game winning streak as part of his 26-1-2-1 record. He has certainly come a long way from his one-win season of 2020-21!
“I think the league has done a great job in improving the exposure of its players. There are college coaches at almost every game which puts players in a position to succeed,” said Bevilacqua.
NCAA Division I hockey is going to be a big jump from junior hockey, and he knows the hard work will have to continue after whichever point he ends up with – obviously he hopes it ends with him holding some hardware.
“I am going to continue working on everything,” Bevilacqua said. “Everything can always improve and get better.”
The NCDC congratulates Nick Bevilacqua, his family, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and Bentley University for his commitment.