Potsdam is in a bit of a rebuilding mode this season, with 11 rookies on the roster.
Coach Ed Seney’s Bears, who in game two of the SUNYAC championship were the only team to beat Plattsburgh in its last 15 games, lose five of their top seven scorers from last year. Those five accounted for 61 of the team’s 120 goals last season.
“You don’t want to bring in 12 if you lose 12, because you have to replace 12 again in a few years,” said Seney. “Six came in as freshmen and the rest as transfers. Losing 11 or 12 is tough.”
Goaltending And Defense The Key
With the loss of so much offensive power, Seney is looking to goaltender Ryan Venturelli and his defensive corps, which includes last year’s second-leading scorer Dave Weagle, to keep the Bears in contention.
“Our biggest strengths are our goaltender and our defensemen. We’re not going to win many games 6-5, 5-4. We’re going to have to win a lot of 3-2, 2-1, 4-3 games. If we hold teams under three, I think we’re going to have a pretty good shot.”
As the season progresses, Seney expects his large crop of rookies to fill the shoes of the departed players.
“I think our rookies are playing well. I think we’re going to be okay once we get to next semester. I think it’s going to take a semester for guys to get that experience under their belt.”
Veteran players will also have new responsibilities, said Seney.
“Our returning guys haven’t been asked to play the role they’re going to play this year. On our power play, only one guy returns who played on our top power play last year. Now it’s their turn to step into that role and it’s going to take them a little while to adjust to that.”
Seney also pointed out that there is a bit of an adjustment for new players coming from Canadian juniors.
“It’s just so hard for them to adjust to [having] no red line, and that every game counts. The kids you get from junior hockey in Canada, they play 70 games a year, and we play 14 in our league. So [one game] is as important as playing a Plattsburgh in a championship game. Sometimes kids have a hard time understanding that.”
How Good Is This Team?
“[Until] we’ve played everyone once, we don’t know,” said Seney. “I think most of the goalies in our league are pretty good. And if a goalie gets hot in our league, anybody can beat you, because there’s not that many snipers in our league who can score 25 goals.”
Although a largely underclass squad may take a few games to get the experience needed to compete in the SUNYAC, look for the Bears to be clawing their way to the top half of the conference in the second half of the season.