Coach: Dominick Dawes, third season overall and at Neumann (36-18-5)
2009-10 record: 15-9-3 overall, 7-5-3 ECAC West (fourth)
2009-10 team offense: 3.78 goals/game (second)
2009-10 team defense : 2.78 goals/game (fourth)
2009-10 power play: 24.1 percent (first)
2009-10 penalty kill: 78.2 percent (fourth)
Key losses: Matt Ward (10g, 17a)
Key returners: Marlon Gardner (12g, 13a), William Lacasse (3g, 22a), Ross MacKinnon (.898 savepercent, 3.02 gaa)
2010-11 predicted finish: Second
Last year, the Neumann Knights were up and down most of the season as the very young team tried to find its identity. The team, made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores, won a couple of games and then dropped some, ending up with a 9-8-2 record near the end of January.
Following a pair of very close home losses to Hobart, things finally clicked and the team went on a 6-0-1 tear into the playoffs. Now all of those youngsters on the team have much more experience and look to get off to a better start this year.
“Experience is huge,” said Neumann coach Dominick Dawes. “It took us until January to figure it out last year. A huge growth spurt last year for us came when Hobart beat us twice. They were close games that we worked really hard in. Going into this year, we need to be ready to go from day one.”
Only four freshmen join the Knights this season, but they will need to get in the fold quickly to keep up with their more experienced teammates.
“We expect all of the freshmen to make an impact,” said Dawes. “Ryan Dreger, out of Manitoba, was second in his league in scoring and is a smaller kid with a lot of skill and can skate very well. Forward Michael Rey was up there in his league scoring as well. Defenseman D’Lane Sather can move the puck extremely well with great vision.”
Also joining Neumann is goaltender Todd Saey, who will look to fill the net with his 6’2″ frame.
As with many young teams, Neumann took too many penalties last season and struggled killing them off. The team was fourth in the league in PK and led the league in penalty minutes. With more maturity comes both accountability and experience in staying out of the penalty box.
“Discipline on the penalty kill is a huge topic for us,” said Dawes. “We improved a lot toward the end of the year to kill penalties. Now they need to be a little bit more accountable to not take as many penalties.”
With the most returnees of any team in the league, Neumann looks to sprint out of the gate this season.
“We’re extremely excited to try to pick things up where we left off last year,” said Dawes. “We need to get going from the start. Who is going to separate themselves from the pack to establish a place in the lineup?”