The Wonderland of Ice arena in Bridgeport, Conn., isn’t the greatest of buildings for a college hockey team to call home. It’s a bit dark and plenty dingy, and in the last few years even had poor enough ice to halt a college game played there.
Maybe that’s part of the reason that Fairfield had but two wins in the building all of last season. It’s a good excuse, but doubtful, because just one season earlier the Stags posted a 7-4-2 record there.
Regardless, the one thing that is clear is that if Fairfield is going to return to the playoffs this season, the Stags need to take advantage of home ice and win more games in friendly confines.
Coach Jim Hunt will probably have the best deck of cards he’s been dealt in his three years to attempt such a feat. Fairfield returns 92 percent of its goal-scoring power from a season ago, with Rae Metz, Dan Cotter, Ryan Tormey and Casey Laflamme — the team’s top four scorers a year ago — all back for their final season.
So the outlook for Fairfield might just be, “If we’re going to do it, now’s the time.”
With the offense seemingly in place, the Stags will have to worry about keeping the puck out of their own net — after giving up 121 goals a season ago. The finger will have to point to goaltending.
A season ago, Fairfield employed five different goaltenders — though current sophomore Michael Wolfe and current junior Craig Schnappinger played in 28 of the club’s 32 games. If there is hope for success this season, though, the revolving door will need to be mended.
Hunt didn’t recruit new goaltending for this season — obviously satisfied to make work what he has — and he brought back four of the five netminders, leaving stiff competition for a spot in the lineup (though also leaving the possibility of more confusion).
Six rookies in the Stag lineup — five of them at forward — will make for a large squad, giving Hunt plenty of options and possibly even depth down the stretch.
With only one player eclipsing 6-2 in height — 6-3 sophomore Lyon Porter — look for Fairfield to use speed over strength to spark the club to victory.