Five years ago, Canisius coach Dave Smith brought in a large, talented rookie class that included the dynamic duo of Cory Conacher and Vincent Scarcella. Each of the past four seasons, the Golden Griffins improved, culminating in their first trip to the Atlantic Hockey semifinals under Smith.
Now that the class of 2011 has moved on, Smith has 12 rookies on the roster. This looks like a classic rebuilding scenario, but Smith said the cupboard isn’t bare.
“That  class was my second year of recruiting,” he said. “Those guys did a heck of a job and a lot of good things for our program. Since then we’ve continued to bring in good hockey players and run a first-class program. We’re doing things the right way by getting quality people that want to accomplish things and graduating them on time.”
Scott Moser is the lone senior forward, coming off a 21-point season. He’s supported up front by junior Preston Shupe (24 points last season) and sophomore Kyle Gibbons (23).
Ben Danford (24 points) returns to lead the defense, which lost three starters to graduation. Smith has brought in some size on the blue line, with five freshman all 6-foot-2 or taller.
In net, expect senior Dan Morrison to get the majority of work as he did last season, but he’ll be pushed by sophomore Tony Capobianco, who posted better numbers in his 11 appearances last season.
“[Scoring] will be by committee but I like our depth offensively,” said Smith. “It’s not about catching lightning in a bottle but we’ll take that if it comes. We’ve got good players and good people and I really like our team.”
About the Golden Griffins
2010-11 overall record: 13-19-6
2010-11 AHA record: 10-12-5 (eighth)
2011-12 predicted finish (coaches poll): Ninth
Key losses: Cory Conacher (F), Vincent Scarcella (F), Chris Forsman (D)
Players to watch: Scott Moser (sr., F), Kyle Gibbons (so., F), Preston Shupe (jr., F), Dan Morrison (sr., G)
Impact rookie: Mitch McKrank, a true freshman in the mold of Conacher and Scarsella, had 62 points last season in juniors
Why the Golden Griffins will finish higher than the coaches poll: Expectations are low, but the Griffs will succeed if their young defense jells.
Why the Golden Griffins will finish lower than the coaches poll: The 12 rookies may need time to adjust.