Becker Coach Craig Barnett is used to starting from scratch. He guided Findlay University from NAIA to Division I status and accumulated a 91-110-12 record is five seasons behind the Oilers’ bench.
Now, Barnett is starting over at Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Hawks will play an independent schedule this season before joining the ECAC Northeast in 2007-2008.
While adding a new program to a 16-league conference might seem a stretch, Barnett said Becker and the ECAC Northeast are a perfect fit.
“Location, location, location,” said Barnett. “We’re right smack dab in the middle (of the conference). Our longest ride to a game is two hours to Plymouth State. So it was obviously location, plus they looked at our commitment. We’ve got a top notch facility in the New England Sports Center.”
Becker is off to a 1-6 start, but other than an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of Mass-Dartmouth, the Hawks have been in every game.
“We’re trying to learn how to win,” Barnett said. “We need to stay out of the box. We’ve been undisciplined to a point, but it’s mostly due to youthful enthusiasm. (The players) are all used to playing junior hockey, and it takes some time for them to adjust.”
Barnett likes his first recruiting class, all but three of which are freshmen. He’s especially high on forward Andrew Scampoli.
“He’s a high-end player,” said Barnett. “He was courted by a lot of top Division III programs. He’s going to really help us.”
Other players expected to make an impact are defenseman Matt Oster and forwards Mike Caprio, Jim Ceglarek and Derek Stabile.
“Oster’s a big strong kid that played juniors in Minnesota,” said Barnett. “He’s going to be horse for us. And the forwards are going to be looked on to make big contributions.”
In net Brendon Melikian has seen the most playing time so far.
“He’s very capable,” said Barnett. “He’s kept us in games. We’re giving him the ball to run with it and see how it goes. The other two (goalies) have played very well, too. We don’t have an absolute number one.
“Everybody on this team will have a chance to prove themselves.”