Click here for part one.
This week well continue with the previews of the ECAC NE, when coaches feel good about their squads chances and cant wait for that first puck to be dropped.
Curry College coach Rob Davies has seen the league improve greatly over the last three to four years, and he couldnt be happier about it.
I like the idea of other teams strengthening the league from the bottom up. This should be a good season with a lot of parity.
Davies feels the strength of his team clearly lies with the goalies.
Weve got a sophomore, Zach Cardella, coming back, and he played the bulk of the games last year. We also have Steve Jakiel, a transfer from the University of Michigan. We these two in the mix it gives us a very nice situation. Its one weve never had, and I really believe theyll be the backbone of our hockey club.
Both goalies certainly have size. Cardella is listed at 62, 200 lbs., and went 11-7-1 last year. Jakiel, also a sophomore, specs are 64 and 210 lbs.; he was projected as a third-string goalie for Red Berensons squad.
Up front, offense should not be a concern for Davies. Returning is Ross Enmark, a sophomore who averaged 1.13 points per game is his first college season. He also scored 23 goals in 26 games, and had five game winners and eight power-play goals included.
Hell have a complement up front with St. Norberts transfer Jeff Hazelwood. Last year, the junior was one of St. Norberts leading scorers, and Davies certainly hopes he keeps that up for the Colonels.
Im so comfortable with six or seven forwards we have that can put up impressive numbers, Davies said. Some of those other forwards include juniors James Pentecost and Jeremy Hmura, and freshman Jason Yuel, a 6, 190 lb. right handed shot. Hes big, strong, and gets pucks to the net, his coach said of the Winnipeg, MN, native. Senior Trevor Speridi will also be counted on this season.
I dont think scoring goals will be a big problem. Weve got some firepower up front, Davies said. Behind the blue line, the Colonels have a younger crew, but expect to see them anchored by sophomore Donald Rankin, whos not afraid to rush the puck, and juniors Jason Tarbell and Jarrett Souza. Davies also expects significant contributions from senior Nate Robie.
We want to make continuous, measurable improvement, were the first words out of mouth of Becker College coach Steve Hoar when asked about his team. We want to make a good showing in our first year. We didnt get any respect last year, and duly noted. We didnt deserve it. Hopefully with freshmen and sophomores, being a brand new program, well make some improvements.
The newest team to the ECAC NE will also undoubtedly be the youngest team, with only sophomores and freshmen. One of those sophomores is Tony Stoehr, a Wisconsin native who already has a year of collegiate hockey under his chest protector after seeing very limited duty last year at Wisconsin-River Falls.
Also vying for playing time will be freshman Billy Dillon, out of Scituate, MA., and possibly the best goalie from the seaside town since Andy Marhoffer, who played at the former North Adams State College from 1980-1983.
Another freshman, Anthony Libonati, certainly brings size to the Hawks. The 62, 220 lb. forward spent the last two seasons with the Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) where he was lauded not only for his point (plus) per game average, but his leadership skills, on and off the ice. Libonati will be joined by another NOJHL alum, defenseman Peter Landem, last since helping the Soo Indians win the league title.
Also expected to contribute to Beckers efforts are freshman forward Mark Persic, and sophomore defenseman Brad Jones. Both players are coming out of junior programs.
Im really excited. For the most part, we have everybody back from last year, and theyre all a year older and more mature. Coach Chris Glionna sounds genuine when describing his team, which has improved their win totals in each of his first three years behind the bench.
We have two of the better players in the league, in Dan Pencinger, whos one of the fastest kids in the league, and John Rocchio, who wasnt an All-Star last year but was nominated for being one of the top three players in division three.
Rocchio, who led the Rams in scoring last year with 13 goals and 30 assists in 23 games, was a semi-finalist for the Joe Concannon Award, given by the Gridiron Club, which honors New Englands best American-born Division II/III college hockey player.
Glionna will also be looking for a pair of forwards who transferred to contribute to the offense. Kyle Cook, a junior who played at Nichols College last year, has proven that he can put the puck in the net. Tim Dancey is a senior who spent an injury-riddled year at St. Michaels College in 2006-07, appearing in less than half of the Purple Knights games.
On defense, Glionna is happy.
Were pretty excited. Last year we played a lot of newcomers. Theyre all back, led by Nick Sabo, whos strong, offensive-minded, and a threat on the powerplay. Hes a definite workhorse. We also have Nick Davis, who was our freshmen of the year last year, and he looks even better with a year under his belt.
In goal, that may be a question mark for Suffolk.
Last year we lost about seven or eight one-goal games, Glionna recalled. We didnt get great goaltending last year.
Glionna will look to freshman Jeff Rose, who he feels could be one of the better goalies in the league. Bill Gilbert and Mark Grigon will also see action between the pipes.
Hoping to see his teams win total improve once again, Glionna knows it wont be easy.
The league gets better by the day. There are no easy games anymore, and anyone can make the playoffs.
RJ Tolan returns for his second year as coach at Wentworth, and feels this year should be a little easier for him.
I can feel my way around the school a little better, and the recruiting helped with this year. I just try to communicate and get the most out of the each kid.
Tolan must have done something right in his rookie year as coach, for he was named Coach of the Year last year in the ECAC NE.
One thing Tolan is happy about is the experience some of his players got last year.
One strength of our team is that I have quite a few kids that got playoff experience last year. We have most of the role guys we had last year. It was a younger team last year, and some of the experience from last year can only help them mature this year.
On defense, junior Joey Sides returns, as does sophomore Martin Windsor, who should log plenty of ice time. Theyll be playing in front of goalie Justin Marriott, a sophomore who played in 24 of the Leopards 28 games last year. Look for a pair of freshmen, Andrew Ricci and Matt Buchan, to serve as Marriotts understudies.
Up front, Tolan has a wealth of returning players. We want to work and grind our way back to last year. We wont come out and blow anyones doors off, but well make teams have to beat us. You look at Curry and Dartmouth [UMass] and obviously theyre a little more talented than most teams in the college hockey so we need to keep up with them.
Plymouth State University
Up off up Route 93 in New Hampshire, Brett Tryder is getting ready for his fifth season behind the bench, and i