This season marks the end of the ECAC NE as we have all known it, as the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) formally announced the addition of men’s ice hockey as a conference-sponsored sport on Monday, July 14.
With Westfield State reinstating its program following a 20-year hiatus, the MASCAC now has five member institutions sponsoring men’s ice hockey and — per conference-bylaw — will now become a MASCAC-recognized sport. Fitchburg State College, Framingham State College, Salem State College and Worcester State College are the other four members.
After competing as full members in the ECAC during the 2008-09 season, those five will be joined by affiliate members UMass-Dartmouth and Plymouth State University. The seven schools will formally withdraw from the ECAC and begin MASCAC play in 2009-10.
As the ECAC Northeast Ten gets ready to drop the puck, USCHO caught up with the league’s coaches to get their thoughts on the upcoming campaign as well as take an in-depth look at each team and key in on one player to watch for each squad.
He knows things are going to stem from his goalie out.
Weve got a returnee in Jamie DiGiulio, and the past few years hes faced too many shots, and I dont think weve seen his potential yet, Brady said. Weve also got a freshman whos a very solid player in Steve DiDomenico. I think hes going to be a fine one in the future. From there we move out to our defense and our captains going to be a leader there, Chris Genovese, and Mark Labb.
Continuing, he noted [u]p front, weve got a returnee in Patrick Fitzgibbons, who had a great freshman campaign, but his two linemates are gone, and were looking to him to lead the forwards. We also have two great transfers in Adam Goudreau and Ben Kirkland. We possibly have an all-star freshmen line of Patrick OKane, Dennis Sylvio, and Taylor Larsen. Im really looking forward to see how they stack up against their opponents. They were impressive in camp.
Although this is Bradys first year as a head coach, he has an impressive hockey rsum. After graduating from Holy Cross in 1993, he went on to play five years of professional hockey between the IHL, AHL, and ECHL. He then played professional roller hockey, and also spent time in the front office of the (then) Worcester Ice Cats
Last year, Brady spent the season working under Steve Hoar at Becker College as an assistant coach.
That was a great experience, Brady recalled. He showed me the ropes, especially the administration work that goes into being a head coach. That was something I hadnt really experienced. Its been great so far. I love the college atmosphere and the college player.
Brady knows enough about the league after one season to know how strong it is.
Its getting better every year, and Im talking the total ECAC division three, not just the Northeast 10. Weve got some great players. Its a good mix of schools, and a good mix of talent.
When asked what his goals are in his rookie season, Brady aimed high:
I think any college coach should have a championship as his first goal, if you dont have that I dont think you should be coaching. That should be your number one goal. A Northeast 10 Championship is the ultimate for us, obviously because of our playoff situation.
Brady also stated some goals that may be easier to attain.
Im also looking at a winning season, and Im really looking at some decreased penalty time. Averaging 29 minutes per game is absolutely ridiculous. We really need to get down into the 10 minute range, and thats still kind of high. If were in that 10 to 12 area, I think were going to win a lot of hockey games. You cant let your goaltender face 50 shots a game and average 29 minutes in penalties. Youre just not going to win a lot of hockey games. Thats whats happened to this team for the past three to five years.
Player to Watch: Patrick Fitzgibbons. With a year under his belt, look for him to averaged at least a point per game.
Frankline Pierce University
In New Hampshire, Jaymie Harrington was named the third head coach in Franklin Pierce Colleges history this summer, after spending last year as an assistant, and he knows what will make his team tick this season.
Right away, the strength of our team is that we are returning seven of our nine top returning scorers.
Those players include forwards Casey Goodell, Jeff Kasper, Phil LaBreck, Sean Woodring, Coursen Schneider, Shane Murphy, and defenseman Kyle Kruse.
On LaBreck, who tallied 12 goals and 10 assists, Harrington remarked that he really had a pretty good year for himself and established himself, and when it comes to Kasper, his coach feels he is as skilled as they come.
A trio of freshmen forwards who are expected to contribute right out of the gate are Alaskan native Justin Adams, Nate Shursky from Arizona, and Anthony Chighisola from Whitman, Massachusetts. Also hailing from the Bay State, freshman netminder Ben Siok played at St. Johns in Shrewsbury, MA. He is expected to compete for time in the cage.
On defense, Harrington is looking towards a pair of juniors to lead the way in Kyle Kruse and Steve Della-Calce.
The two really figured out what we expected of them, and elevated their game. Theyre a quality pair who complement each other well said Harrington.
Senior Rob Perretta and sophomore Sean Carroll are also ready to help out as well.
With last season somewhat of a breakthrough year for Franklin Pierce, even bigger things are expected this campaign. In addition to matching the program record for wins in with a 6-19-0 overall record last season, 14 of Franklin Pierce’s losses were by two goals or less, including 11 by a single goal, and five in overtime.
The Ravens set numerous single season offensive team records, including goals (93), assists (151), points (244) and power-play goals (47), and finished the regular season with the third best power play in the nation (30.5%). The team also reduced their penalty minutes by an amazing 300 from the 2006-07 season.
Harrington, who played for four years at Canisius College, is looking forward to his first year behind the bench in what will be the last season as we know it of the ECAC Northeast.
Its a bit of a transition with the MASCAC forming, but top to bottom theres pretty good parity. With every game, its whoever wants it more, analyzed Harrington.
Player to Watch: Sean Woodring. Last year’s co-rookie of the year is not the most skilled player in the world, but he would go through a brick wall for his teammates if he had to. With a year under his belt, he will only get better.
Another coach fairly new to the NE Ten is Gary Hebert of Stonehill College. Hebert is very excited about his teams new address this season.
We have a new home, Hebert said. For the last bunch of years weve been playing at the Bridgewater Ice Arena. This year we have a new home, its closer to campus, its a state of the art rink, and its called the Foxboro Sports Center. We have a dedicated locker room, and they hung our championship banner there, and we even have our logo painted in the ice. We even have a VIP lounge up above, where Varsity Club members and alumni can go. Its a first class facility thatll be a real classy home for us.
When talking about on-ice matters, Hebert had a unique way of looking at things.
We have eight seniors, and our strength is our weakness in the sense that last year we lost seven, and one of them was