The ECAC Northeast will have a new look to it this year, as there are new coaches, a new team, and a couple of different rinks. One constant you will find at this time of the year is that every coach knows you cant take a night off, as that will undoubtedly equate to an L in the loss column.
Framingham State College
Last year, Framingham State College only won two games, but coach Chris Heaney feels that this year may be different.
Were going to compete every night; otherwise well end up on the wrong side of the win-loss column, he said. I like what I see. Well win more than two games, but we wont go undefeated. Well end up somewhere in between, and thats a compliment to the league.
Heaney has a relatively young squad this year, but he does have some upperclassmen to provide leadership. Two of them include senior forwards Jason Akstin and Nick Glum.
Last year, Glum led the team in scoring, averaging a point per game with 14 goals, nine assists, and 23 points in 23 games. Both seniors logged a lot of minutes last year, and will most likely do the same this year.
Heaney is still trying to figure out who fits where: Its wide open, everybodys going to get a chance.
That includes in goal, where sophomore Andy Joyce returns and hell be joined by sophomore transfers Jamie Babineau, who played at Western New England College last year, and Peter Dundovich, who played attended UMass-Boston last year.
Whoever is in goal, theyll have a young corps of blue-liners protecting them.
I like the attitude of the guys back there, said Heaney. Last year we had some guys back there who just wanted to do their own thing, and that was very frustrating.
One change Heaney instituted this year was paring the roster to 26 players from 30 and he feels that the entire contingent is buying into his system. This also started before they took the ice.
This off-season, I was proud of the kids. They worked out hard, got better, and came back in great shape
Western New England College
Chris Bernard returns to Western New England College for his second season, and he offered some thoughts as to his team.
I think were going to have more depth this year. Were a pretty good skating club, and well need to be physical and tough to be against every night.
The Golden Bears have a large contingent of juniors returning, led by center Hank Levin,
and forwards Phil Lamy and Mike Majesty, as well as defenseman Joe Balog.
In goal, junior Kyle Sagnella is back, and hell be joined by a pair of freshmen, John Collins and Justin Richards. On defense, Bernard spoke very highly of senior Nick Klaussen.
Hes been an unsung hero for us for the past two years. Hes got a real quiet demeanor, and plays a sound game every night, always doing of lot of little things.
WNEC will call the Snead Arena their home this year, and Bernard hopes they can gain an advantage.
A shot from anywhere in there is a good shot, and I want to see more grit and more toughness from our squad.
Worcester State College
At Worcester State College, coach John Guiney feels his teams strong point is between the pipes.
Our strength is in goal, Guiney observed. Were very good there, we have some depth. Jason Richardson is one kid thats exceptional, and Andrew Evans, his back-up, is pretty good.
Richardson, a junior, carried the load last year, appearing in 20 out of 23 games. The sophomore Evans should be able to lessen some of Richardsons workload this year.
Guiney, who has coached at Worcester St. for the last 15 years, feels that his team will also have some depth up front. With eight seniors on the pre-season roster, Guiney also has a younger group ready to play.
We had a bunch of freshmen last year that are sophomores now who had a lot of playing experience, noted Guiney. They didnt know how good the league was last year, now they do.
Two newcomers expected to provide an instant spark are forwards Justin Brownstein and Billy ONeill, both of who played for the Valley Forge Minutemen junior team last year.
According to their coach, both are high speed forwards who create a lot of offense and should step in on the top two lines.
Also expected to produce this year are the two top forwards on the team, junior Tom Ford and sophomore Mark Rintel. Last year, Ford led the Lancers in scoring with 13-13-26 in just 23 games. In the same amount of games, Rintel impressed as well, compiling 9-13-22.
Despite some obvious firepower up front, Guiney is a bit tentative about his defense.
Our weakness is on defense, and we need to make our forwards aware of the fact that they need to play defense. Last year, we had problems scoring, and we lost a lot of two-goal games. If youre weak on defense, how much can you expect out of your offense?
Salve Regina University
In Rhode Island, at Salve Regina University, first year coach Andrew LeColst cant wait to drop the puck.
Im excited. Weve got a fairly young team, with seven freshmen and three seniors. I think well be good offensively.
LeColst, a former Salem State forward, takes over from Chris McPherson, who led the Seahawks into the quarterfinals of last years playoffs before losing to UMass Dartmouth.
One player the rookie coach will expect big things out of is sophomore forward Tyler Trott, who may well be the teams best offensive weapon. Fellow sophomore Patrick Bambery should be a key force this year as well. Another player to watch is senior forward Mike Mallette, a skillful passer who has seen his points totals increase in each of his first three years.
In goal, junior Chase Goodrich returns. He saw most of the action last year, but this year hell be competing for playing time with freshman Patrick Enloe, whos coming off a stellar year at Avon Old Farms in CT.
We have the ability to put the puck in the net, said LeColst. We need to be more disciplined than we have in the past, some of the penalties hurt. Defensively, we need to work on the little things and not try to do too much. Im excited..I think were going to surprise a few people this year.
When asked about the league as a whole, Bernard realized its not going to be easy.
You see UMass Dartmouth, Curry, and Wentworth all getting consideration votes for the top 15. You cant take a night off; there are too many close games. Our main objective is to secure a playoff spot. Our goal is to be in the top eight.
Nichols College coach Lou Izzi is about to embark on his fourth year behind the bench, and he feels good about his squads prospects.
Were going to have a young team, Izzi noted. We have no seniors, but we do have some upper-class presence that I havent seen before. Well build our depth with a good nucleus of good players that weve had the last couple of years.
Two of the players who will provide not only depth, but scoring, are Anthony Monte, a junior forward who led the team in scoring last year, and junior Jeff Beiber, who led all defensemen in conference scoring last year. Both players earned First Team All-ECAC Northeast last season.
Another junior who will be relied upon is defensemen Cole Ruwe. Hell also don the captains C for the second straight year. The Illinois native can put some points on the board (5-14-29 in 26 games) and also proved durable last year, not missing a contest.
Expected to carry the bulk of the a