With a new coach and 32 underclassmen, the Foresters are a team in transition. The infusion of newcomers is expected to pay dividends sooner rather than later.
The youth movement starts behind the bench, where Seamus Gregory, 29, replaces 32-year coaching veteran Tony Fritz, who retired. Seamus served two season as an assistant under Fritz, who the new coach terms as a mentor.
“I’m going to try my best to keep up the tradition that he had here for 32 years and hopefully bring our program to a winning caliber night in and night out,” said Gregory, who is a native of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland.
The team boasts two solid returning defensemen in sophomores Trent Brown and Mike Rubino. Brown, who was named captain this season, scored four goals and nine assists from the blue line.
“(Brown has) earned the respect of his teammates and the opposition around the league,” Gregory says. “He has the ability to lug the puck, which is every coach’s dream.”
Rubino is a very versatile rearguard who plays on the power play and penalty kill and can move to forward if needed. As a freshman, the Woodbridge, Ont. native scored three goals and 13 assists.
“(Rubino is) just a very smart hockey player,” Gregory said. “He’s a great passer. His first pass out of the zone is just phenomenal.”
If the Foresters didn’t already have enough blue line point-baggers, they added another with freshman David Sharpe. who registered 68 points last season with the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League LaSalle Vipers.
“One of his biggest weapons is his ability to shoot the puck,” said the Foresters coach, who terms Sharpe a Division I-caliber player.
Not all the team’s assets rest on defense, though. Sophomore forward Thomas Bark returns after a 28-point freshmen campaign in which he netted seven goals and 21 assists.
Bark is another Forester player whose wiles on the ice belie his youth, his coach said.
“He’s a smart player with great vision and he makes everyone around him better,” Gregory says. “He really knows the game.”
The personnel overhaul coincides with a new $16 million sports center on the school’s Lake Forest, Ill., campus, as well as renovations to the team’s 1,500-capacity Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.