A new coach, another new era at Union. Nate Leaman takes over for Kevin Sneddon, who returned the program to respectability. It’ll be Leaman’s job to elevate it further — a task made more difficult because of the lack of support the college traditionally floats the way of the hockey program.
The Dutchmen remain an extremely young team, but they are coming off a 14-win season and an impressive showing in conference action. Leaman will be without the contributions of the graduated Nathan Gillies, Kris Goodjohn and defenseman Randy Dagenais. A team always in need of scoring will miss the trio’s combined 32 goals and 88 points of a year ago.
In their stead, Union will need continued improvement from leading scorers Jordan Webb, who posted 17 goals and 37 points, and Joel Beal (team-high 29 assists, 37 points). Additional offense will need to come from sophomore Scott Seney (18 points) and juniors Marc Neron (11 goals) and Brian Kerr (13 points).
Juniors Matt Vagvolgyi — who registered 11 of his 12 overall points in ECAC play — and Chris DiStefano will be counted on to provide scoring from the blueline.
A consistent team in 2002-03, Union ranked fifth in goals per game (2.92) and goals against (3.14), but the power play was a dismal eighth at 17.8 percent. With the penalty killing unit ranked sixth at 82.8 percent, it will be imperative for the Dutchmen to reduce their propensity for visiting the sin bin. Last season, they ranked third in the ECAC with an average of 15.4 penalty minutes per game.
In net last year, sophomores Tim Roth and Kris Mayotte split the duties until Mayotte earned the full-time gig. It should be his job to lose this season and one would expect that he’ll build upon his 2.73 GAA and .905 save percentage of a year ago.