I’m going to sound like a broken record when it comes to Potsdam — goaltending. However, let’s look at this in a more holistic viewpoint. Part of Potsdam’s problems last year wasn’t just between the pipes. The Bears’ defense, already short of true blue liners, was hampered by injuries. Potsdam let up a lot of shots in some games, and worse, a lot of those were quality shots for the opposition.
“Change the way we are going to play defense,” Thomaris said when asked what will be different this year. “Our defense is much better than last year. Obviously, cutting down on the shots is going to be huge.”
One of the reasons for the team’s lack of depth was a disappointing recruiting year for Thomaris. His goal over the summer was to change that.
Warren Sly is back healthy as well as Nik Bibic, Lance Smith, and Ryan Trimble. Adding to that core of defenders is Jeff Zatorski and Steve Cornelissen, both of whom play solid in their defensive end, especially Cornelissen. Zatorski has the potential to remind Potsdam fans of Dave Weagle.
Cornelissen will also be looked at on the point during the power play, which was already Potsdam’s greatest strength. “One concern I had last year was scoring opportunities from the blueline,” Thomaris said. “I think we have answered that for this year.”
Up front, Potsdam lost TJ Sakaluk, their second leading scorer last year, who turned pro. Potsdam is looking for freshman Luke Beck, a better skater, to step in for that loss. Ryan Watts (transfer from North Country CC), Mitch West, and Connor Treacy are also strong additions.
Leading the way, of course, will be Ryan McCarthy, along with Pat Lemay and Adam Gebrara. These three will be expected to lead the scoring for the Bears.
There will be no change in goaltending, as their prized recruit from junior hockey has to sit out a year. Thus, seniors Vince Cuccaro and Rob Barnhardt will most likely share duties.
Consistency from those two and a stronger defense will determine whether Potsdam is the team that got wins over Plattsburgh, Norwich, and Geneseo last year or the team that lost its final five games.