When the Saints decided to begin offering scholarships to recruits a few years ago, it seemed like a step that would position them for long-term success. They enjoyed back-to-back ECAC tournament titles in 2000 and 2001, but are coming off a pair of 21-loss seasons with little hope for a return to glory anytime soon.
Four of last season’s top six scorers return, including senior Rich Peverley (15-23-38), who will look to lead the Saints in scoring for a third consecutive season — a feat not accomplished in Canton since the mid-’90s.
Sophomores John Zeiler (10-17-27) and T.J. Trevelyan (10-12-22) are likely to play along side Peverley on SLU’s top line. A young squad, the Saints should enjoy an upgrade in their offense as they building upon last year’s experiences and receive more production from a large junior class.
SLU gave up over 3.6 goals per game last season and ranked dead last on the power play. Both of those statistics point to a problem on the Saints’ blueline. They gave up the fourth-fewest third-period goals (20) in the ECAC, but the most first-period (31) and fourth-most second-period tallies (28).
Additionally, there are no quarterbacks on defense to help lead the power play. Senior Ryan Glenn (three power-play goals in 2002-03) will need to step up offensively, along with sophomore Mike Madill, for SLU to have any chance on improving on its 11 wins.
Jeremy Symington’s 2000-01 performances aside, SLU has yet to fill the huge hole in net left by Derek Gustafson’s early departure in 2000. Juniors Kevin Ackley and Mike McKenna will battle it out for the top spot, but will have a tough fight keeping the Saints in games. Their first test comes Oct. 3 with a season-opening contest at Miami, and they’ll be severely tested in January when they play six consecutive road contests.