At Curry College, the expectations are no different than they have been in years past. Last season, the Colonels won the ECAC Northeast tournament championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament, and Curry coach Rob Davies believes that success will provide the foundation in creating a stronger team environment.
However, Davies said, as the quality of Curry hockey has grown, so has the quality of the ECAC Northeast.
“Over the last three, four, or five years, it’s gotten so much more competitive,” said Davies, whose team is ranked 15 in the USCHO.com Division III preseason poll. “Some of the teams in our league have gotten more solid and have gotten more committed coaching staffs. As a result, it’s also gotten more competitive from a recruiting standpoint. That’s going to create more parity.”
Salve Regina coach Andy Boschetto points to Curry and Wentworth as the league’s top two teams, but sees an improvement in the league’s remaining six teams.
“Curry’s always going to be Curry, and Wentworth’s always going to be good,” Boschetto said. “But the last three or four spots in the playoffs, it’s going to be a battle. Everyone’s improved and has recruited a better class coming into the season.”
Projected finish: First
Previous season: Second, 14-9-4 (10-3-1)
Key departures: Kyle Richardson.
Arrivals: Coach did not name new arrivals.
Key players: Skylur Jameson (20-15-35), Mike Paglino (12-18-30) Corey Lillie (9-10-19), Casey Shade (8-17-25), Anthony Principato (11-15-26), Shaun Jameson (5-12-17).
Outlook/prognosis: The Leopards allowed 75 goals in 27 games (2.78 goals a game), and Jameson, the Leopards’ leading scorer from last season, scored three game-winning goals. Yet with the graduation of Richardson, last season’s captain, the Leopards must find leadership.
Projected finish: Second
Previous season: First 16-9-3, (10-2-2)
Key departures: Ryan Warsofsky, Ray Nicks, Sean Mahoney.
Arrivals: Robert Kleiman, Chris Mason.
Key players: Payden Benning (16-10-26), Ryan Barlock (6-17-23), Joshua Pineiro (7-8-15), Joe Dawson (8-7-1, 2.86 GAA, .901 save percentage).
Outlook/prognosis: Ranked 15 in the nation in the USCHO.com preseason poll, the Colonels are the defending ECAC Northeast champion and look to return to the NCAA Division III national tournament. On defense and on offense, the Colonels will have to regroup from the loss of Warsofsky (9-18-27) to graduation; Warsofsky averaged a point a game in his senior season, and was one of three seniors to graduate.
Johnson and Wales
Projected finish: Third
Previous season: Third, 14-12-1 (10-4)
Key departures: None.
Arrivals: None listed.
Key players: Jeremiah Ketts (25-25-50), Domenic Recchia (3-28-31), Matt Cooper (12-8, 3.11 GAA, .901 save percentage), Jason Pietrasiak (18-13-31).
Outlook/prognosis: Recchia returns as the league’s top offensive defenseman, while Ketts scored a league-leading 14 power-play goals last season and Pietrasiak added 11. Ketts proved proficient on special teams, also scoring three short-handed goals for the Wildcats, who led the league in three categories last season: goals (107), power play (26.9 percent, 45-167) and penalty minutes (averaging 28 minutes a game). The offensive prowess must remain, but discipline will be key.
Projected finish: Fourth
Previous season: Fourth, 11-13-3 (7-4-3)
Key departures: None
Arrivals: Richard Woodworth, Nick Di Nardo, David Moore, Tim MacDonald.
Key players: Korby Anderson (15-16-31), Branden Parkhouse (9-24-33), Jake Rosenthal (10-10-3, 3.25 GAA, .901 save percentage).
Outlook/prognosis: Anderson was the Hawks’ second-leading scorer last season behind Parkhouse, and last year’s leading freshman scorer in the ECAC Northeast. Both Anderson and Parkhouse left a team that had balanced scoring, but must improve on special teams, particularly the power play. The Hawks were last among eight league teams on the man-advantage, scoring on only 19 of 140 power-play opportunities (13.6 percent)
Western New England
Projected finish: Fifth
Previous season: Sixth, 8-17-1 (5-9)
Key departures: Chris Beaudoin.
Arrivals: Adam Bristol, Nick Diorio, Andrew Cramer.
Key players: Chris Connors (9-21-30), Mike Kaselouskas (15-10-25), John Kelly (10-14-24), Cam Napolitan (3-15-18).
Outlook/prognosis: Golden Bears coach Greg Heffernan describes this year’s team as “tight-knit,” and believes that the character and attitude of the team will be key in creating success. Western New England will have to improve on its special teams, particularly on its power play, which was 56th of 71 teams in the nation (22 for 131, 16.8 percent), but last in the nation (71st) on the penalty kill (109 for 165, 66.1 percent).
Projected finish: Sixth
Previous season: Fifth, 12-13-1 (6-8)
Key departures: Matt Sayer, Will Munson.
Arrivals: Louie Educate, Joe Sposit, Tyler Marek, Johnny Blaus, Alex Lewis, Mike Schwartz, Chris Gularte, Kyle Shapiro, Evan Jones.
Key players: Zach Kohn (11-27-38), Robbie Sorrenti (5-16-21), Andrew Ella (11-8-19), Wil Brown (5-11-16), Jacob Rinn (8-7-1, 3.49 GAA, .893 save percentage), Josh DeLoach (0-3-3).
Outlook/prognosis: Nichols coach Lou Izzi believes his defense is an upgrade from last year’s – the Bison allowed 3.65 goals a game last season, but expect to boast speed and toughness from the blue line this year. The Bison are more balanced both offensively and defensively, but with a large group of freshmen, maturing and adjusting will be key for team success.
Projected finish: Seventh
Previous season: Seventh, 8-16 (4-10)
Key departures: Jeff Rose, Paul Weisser.
Arrivals: Brett Roman, Andrew Ball, Ryan DesRoches, Chris Rettig, Tim Sprague.
Key players: Jon Stauffer (8-7-15), Andrew Flynn (4-10-14), Max Barron (5-6-11).
Outlook/prognosis: Offense was thin for the Rams last season – they were last in the league, scoring only 61 goals in 24 games, and don’t return anyone who scored more than eight goals. Furthermore, in their pursuit of becoming one of the league’s top three teams again, the Rams must replace goalie Jeff Rose and remain healthy as a group. One bright spot for the Rams was that they had the league’s top penalty kill, finishing 92 for 110 (83.6 percent).
Projected finish: Eighth
Previous season: Eighth 2-21-2 (1-13)
Key departures: Bryan Russell, Joe Colaianni, Brett Pimental, Kevin Sullivan.
Arrivals: Chad Goodwin, Jon Scorcia, Mike Naso, Kevin Kavanagh, Cody Zweifel, Scott McMenimen.
Key players: Jacob Hutt (10-6-16), Michael Cenisio (2-6-8), Bill Gomolinski (4-1-5).
Outlook/prognosis: The Seahawks are young, and while they boast depth, their biggest area of concern is goaltending. The Seahawks used five goalies in 25 games last season, none finishing with a goals-against average of lower than 5.55, and need one to step in and take the reins of the starting position. The Seahawks will face a challenging schedule – they’ve compiled a nonconference slate that includes Bowdoin, Colby, Hobart, and Utica.