St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh always books a challenging out-of-conference schedule, but last season it was a stretch of league games in January and February that hurt the Saints’ playoff hopes.
Starting with a January 21 matchup against Rensselaer in Appleton Arena, the Saints flatlined against league foes, going 2-8-1 over an 11-game span. That stretch killed St. Lawrence’s league standing because it was entirely ECAC teams that were beating the Saints.
In looking to avoid similar conference struggles this season, the primary task facing Marsh will be goaltending. The departure of netminder Mike McKenna leaves goaltending as the largest question mark looming for the Saints.
Fifth-year senior Kevin Ackley, who has a 3.11 goals against average and a .903 save percentage over three season, returns after sitting out a season with a medical redshirt.
Ackley might provide the answer in net, although Marsh will also have two sophomores — John Hallas and Justin Pesony — to rely on if the knee injury that caused Ackley to redshirt resurfaces.
While goaltending will be critical, whoever ultimately emerges as the No. 1 goaltender will have the benefit of playing behind a solid defense anchored by senior Mike Madill, who was selected for the preseason all-league team, and junior Drew Bagnall.
Both Madill and Bagnall have strong presences in the defensive zone, and they contributed 21 and 26 points, respectively, last season.
The Saints’ real strength, though, lies along its forward lines. Led by forwards T.J. Trevelyan and John Zeiler, the team is almost sure to improve on an overall offense that tied for third-best in the league.
Trevelyan was also picked to the preseason all-league team and is coming off a 25-goal, 20-assist junior season, and Zeiler has contributed 95 points over his first three years in Canton.
This year’s challenging schedule for the Saints includes a season-opening pair all the way out in Madison, Wis., and four contests against Hockey East squads — Massachusetts, Providence, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts-Lowell.