The Crusaders came crashing back to earth after a storybook 20005-06 season, dropping from 27 wins and an epic NCAA victory over Minnesota to just 10 victories and an early playoff exit last season.
Picked to finish sixth this season, after a sixth-place season last year, on paper the Crusaders may be hard-pressed to finish that high with the loss of all-stars Jon Landry and James Sixsmith.
“I have no idea where we’ll finish,” said coach Paul Pearl. “I said the same thing the years we were picked to finish first. We’ve got a good senior group and we’ve brought in some really good players. The way this league is, anyone can step up and win it.”
Pearl says last year was a frustrating one for his team.
“We did some good things,” he said. “But our weaknesses were exposed. It’s no secret when you look at what our save percentage was two years ago and what it was last year. We need to be somewhere in between those two this season. Ian Dams and Charlie Lockwood played some good games for us and got better as the season went on. We expect that to continue. Plus we like [freshman] Adam Roy.”
A season-ending injury to Landry in January didn’t help matters either. Pearl says the silver lining on that was that his other blueliners had to step up.
“They logged a lot of ice time with Landry injured,” he said. “Guys like Marty Dams and Matt Burke are going to have big seasons for us.”
A tough non-conference schedule for the Crusaders includes Providence, Vermont and Quinnipiac, the latter at home. Holy Cross will also host Army in a game to be televised by ESPNU.
“We’re excited about that and about getting Quinnipiac to come in,” said Pearl. “It’ll be a great environment for our players and fans.”