Sacred Heart won 21 games for the second straight season, and the result was the same as well — coming up short in the postseason.
Still, you have to be pleased with a season like the Pioneers had. Coach Shaun Hannah has mixed feelings.
“We played as hard and as well as we could,” he said. “But you gotta win the games and in the end we didn’t. We fought and came back against Air Force in the semifinals (scoring three goals in a 6:42 span in the third period to take the lead), but then gave up the tying goal with a minute to play (eventually losing in overtime).”
The Pioneers lost some big name players in Pierre-Luc O’Brien, the all-time school scoring leader with 158 points, and all-star goalie Jason Smith. But Hannah says his team still has what it takes.
“We learned a lot through last year’s experiences but we’re not last year’s team. We’re a totally new group. We have a group of players coming back with plenty of experience and a strong freshman class.”
Back are junior Bear Trapp (17 goals last season) and senior Alexandre Parent (38 points) as well as all-star defenseman Scott Marchesi (18 points).
“We expect them all to pick up where they left off,” said Hannah. “And we expect big contributions from guys like (Dave) Jarman and (Dave) Grimson and (Cory) Laurysen, who will continue to develop.”
In net, Stefan Drew will compete for time with newcomer Oliver St. Onge. They’ll be tested as the Pioneers play a tough non-league schedule, including games at Colgate, Rensselaer and a trip to the Denver Cup where they’ll face the other Pioneers in the first round.
“We’ll get good experience in those games, and we’ll need it coming back to league play,” said Hannah. “This league has come a long way. Every game we have will be competitive.”