After a stunning double overtime loss to Elmira in the league championship game last March, this year appears to be one of rebuilding for Manhattanville. In addition to the heartbreaker of a finish, the Valiants also lost a total of thirteen players from last year’s team.
“We have a lot of new guys here,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal. “We have a talented group and have the potential to be as good as last year’s team, but there are a lot of question marks with this team.”
With new recruits arriving by the busload, coach Levinthal certainly has his hands full heading into the season. There a so many unknowns, he is reluctant to single any one out as a focus for the fans.
“There are so many [recruits],” said Levinthal. “I think it is a very, very good class. Maybe the best class we have every had. I am not sure how fair it is to single certain guys out at this point, because none of them have really done anything at this level. We have seventeen new guys. No matter what, we are going to be a different team, but be very competitive.”
A steadying influence will be returning senior goaltender Andrew Gallant, who won the starting job early last season. Gallant put up stellar numbers (91.5% SV, 2.38 GAA, 17-5) and played the majority of the time last season in net for the Valiants, including their long playoff run.
“We are going to count on him a lot,” said Levinthal, underscoring the importance of a strong start by Gallant early in the season.
Offensively, the Valiants will need to rely on junior Jason Murfitt (16g, 27a) and seniors Chris Mills (6g, 18a) and B.J. Greaves (8g, 5a) to lead on the scoresheet. Murfitt, Mills, and Greaves are the only members of last year’s top ten scorers returning for the Valiants this season.
An unexpected loss heading into the season is Jordan Menzies, who was Manhattanville’s second leading scorer last year chipping in twelve goals and twenty-six assists. Menzies, a senior, is in school this fall but has decided not to play hockey this season.
A massive change in the composition of a team also presents opportunities for a team to redefine itself and for every player to become re-energized and contribute towards the common goal.
“We have so many new faces and are really young,” reiterated Levinthal. “If this team works hard, it will be a pretty good hockey team. We still return several very good players. So it’s not like we are that depleted either. This is certainly the most question marks we have had in a few years. But that isn’t a bad thing either. There is a lot more energy this year. For the first time in a while I have a lot of nervous guys walking around the halls this year.”