According to coach Frank Serratore, the key to his team’s success this season will lie squarely between the pipes.
“We have to have better goaltending, it’s that simple,” said Serratore. “Last season we had statistically some of the worst goaltending in college hockey. Based on the number of shots we allowed, if we’d gotten 90 percent (save percentage), we would have been league champions.”
After an all-conference season in his sophomore campaign, goaltender Peter Foster had an off year in 2005-2006, his save percentage slipping from .900 to .868. Teammate Ian Harper also struggled, posting an .858 save percentage.
“It was anemic, but we’re looking for improvement this season,” said Serratore.
The Falcons move this season to Atlantic Hockey from College Hockey America, where they made a late run and finished strong, winning six of their last 10 games after getting just seven wins in their previous 22 contests.
“We played the top teams very well,” said Serratore. “We were 5-7 against the top three teams (in the CHA) after going 2-22 in the two years before that.”
Serratore said he expects his team to be in the middle of the pack in a balanced conference. “I had us around fourth or fifth and (the preseason poll) had us tied for fifth,” he said. “So that’s about right.”
The Falcons return 87% of their offense, but lose a big intangible in Brooks Turnquist, a mainstay on defense for four seasons.
“We’re going to miss Brooks, no question,” Serratore said. “He was a real presence on the ice for us. We’re hoping that Mike Mayra will be that presence this season.”
Mayra was named to the CHA all-rookie team last season, compiling 16 points from the blueline. Anchoring the defense with Mayra are a pair of seniors, Brian Gineo (21 points) and Billy Devoney (9 points).
At forward, expect junior Eric Ehn to pick up where he left off last year. Ehn led the Falcons in goals (14) and assists (21) and was named to the all-CHA second team. He’ll be joined by fellow junior John Schaffer and senior Andrew Ramsey (23 points each).
Serratore says he expects few, if any, adjustments moving from the CHA to Atlantic Hockey.
“We’ll play the way we always play,” he said. “They’re similar leagues and I think their top teams can match up with anybody. Holy Cross proved that last year.”
The Falcons open league play on October 20 and 21, when they host Bentley.
“We certainly want to play better against (Atlantic Hockey) teams now that we’re in the league,” said Serratore. “Last year we lost all four games we played against them.
“I hope we got that out of our system.”