Shaun Hannah has always been one of the calmest-looking coaches in the MAAC. Though young in age (replaced as the league’s youngest coach this year by Bentley’s Ryan Soderquist), Hannah’s composure has always been his trademark.
But talk to Hannah as this season approaches and it’s almost impossible for him to contain his enthusiasm.
“Looking at what the team’s done over the summer, they’re prepared,” said Hannah about a club that lost very little to graduation after a highly successful season. “They appear to be a team that is hungry. We have real strong leadership in our captains, Richard Naumann and Marty Paquet. They’ve done a good job leading the team in the right direction.”
— Shaun Hannah, on being picked third by the MAAC coaches
Maybe Hannah’s words sound composed, but his voice isn’t. That contains an excitement that borders on giddiness.
And it’s with good reason. In his lineup each night will be one of the league’s best goaltenders in Eddy Ferhi. Last season, Ferhi posted an impressive 13-12-4 record and a 12-7-3 record in MAAC play. He has a solid backup in sophomore Kevin Lapointe, making the Sacred Heart net the team’s strongest point.
Sacred Heart was picked third in the preseason coaches poll, something that Hannah looks to give his players a spark entering the year.
“I think [the poll] gives our guys a little bit of confidence,” Hannah said. “They believe in what they’re capable of but that gives them a little more confidence. It’s good for them to know that others think they can do well.”
Hannah feels what separates his club from the competition is experience. The 13 seniors in the lineup have seen the Pioneers slowly move up in the league standings yearby year, and finally reach the MAAC final four for the first time a season ago.
“This is a team that’s had a taste of the honey, but now they’d like to get into the bucket,” said Hannah. “Experience is a critical thing. When you add it all up in the past three years, you take all those experiences and try to build on them. They’ve got a lot to draw from.”
Hannah believes that his team is not only competitive in the MAAC but also on the national stage. Licking his chops at the thought of an NCAA bid, Hannah has outlined a tough nonconference schedule with two games each against “Big Four” conference opponents Colgate and Miami.
“Just looking at our own schedule, we have a nonconference schedule we can be competitive in,” said Hannah. “In the past, I think we’ve been over our heads some times. But we’ve proved we can play with those guys. We can feel confidence going into each game knowing we’re going to be in the game. And if we are, that will do a lot for others’ view of us on the national stage.”
A stage that it’s obvious Hannah is itching on which to sit.