It is all about attitude this year at Lebanon Valley. Well, actually trying to change an attitude to be specific. It is no secret that the Flying Dutchmen have struggled since joining the ECAC West two years ago. While they were competitive in almost every league game last season, something would usually transpire late in the game to put Lebanon Valley out of contention.
“The biggest challenge is to win hockey games,” said Lebanon Valley coach Al MacCormack. “We only won four hockey games last year and need to change the whole attitude that before we start, the game is over. We had a number of guys from last year’s team that are gone now, who had the attitude that ‘here we go again.’ They had a huge success when they first started because of the people that surrounded them, and then as soon as they started losing it changed. But we need to change that around now that they are gone. If you take a game off, you get beat. We were in a lot of games, but just didn’t have the finishing power nor as strong a defensive corps or goaltending.”
Due to a mixture of graduation and upperclassmen leaving the team, Lebanon Valley lost six of its top ten scorers from last year’s team. Most notable amongst the departees were would-be juniors Justin Todd (13g, 10a) and goaltender Craig Vardy. Todd led the Flying Dutchmen in scoring last season, and Vardy would have been the only upperclassmen goalie on the team.
But the early departure of several players has given MacCormack the opportunity to dramatically change the makeup of the team and take a big step in changing the expectations of the players.
“We brought in more freshmen than any other year,” said MacCormack. “We are going to have a significant change in our lineup. We will be going through a learning stage again. We looked for players who can come in and contribute right away. We want players with a good work ethic.”
A big question mark heading into the season is in net. With no returning goaltenders, the Flying Dutchmen are looking toward freshman Aaron Miller to immediately step in and play. Miller was a standout for the Hunstville Otters (OPJHL) last year amassing a 3.80 goals against average and 89.5 save percentage.
“We are going to rely on [Miller] to do the job for us,” said MacCormack. “Goaltending is key in this league.”
Trying to turn a team around in a highly competitive league like the ECAC West isn’t easy, but perhaps Lebanon Valley is finally on the right path with this season’s wholesale personnel changes.