2004-05 American International Season Preview

Just score more goals.

That’s what American International coach Gary Wright wants his team to accomplish this season.

A year ago, the AIC offense scored what Wright called an “anemic” 2.04 goals per game in league play, which easily ranked dead last. Combine that with a league-worst 4.04 goals against per game and there’s no wonder why the Yellow Jackets finished last and won only three games in league play.

So that, all year, was the focus of Wright’s recruiting.

“We brought in 10 players this year which is the largest class I can remember having in years,” said Wright. “That will give us more depth and hopefully more internal competition and allow us to hold more people accountable.

“[Our offense] was anemic last year and hopefully in our recruiting we answered some of those questions.”

If the offense can turn the corner, Wright can then look to senior goaltender Frank Novello to carry the back end. The 5-foot-7 Novello posted just four wins a year ago despite having an impressive .921 save percentage.

He’s sent a clear message to his teammates: “I can stop the puck.”

“He played a lot of games last year and hopefully he can turn the corner this year,” said Wright. “We really only had six defensemen in our program last year, five of which we used. So adding to that position this year should help us.”

In addition, Wright hopes to improve special teams, particularly his power play, which executed with only 12.4 percent efficiency last season.

“Our power play worked the puck pretty well but had that difficulty scoring,” said Wright.

In addition to leaning on his rookie class, Wright also hopes to see improvement from his sophomores.

“We had four freshmen last year and I feel the biggest steps can be made between freshman and sophomore year,” Wright said. “We’re hoping from more from those players this year.”

Wright hasn’t specifically set targets for his team to reach — offensively, defensively, or even wins and losses. Improvement, particularly in scoring, is most critical at this point.

“We haven’t tried to put any numbers as to what we’d like to accomplish this year, and maybe that’s wrong,” said Wright. “But we want to generally try to improve in many different areas. We’re just really hoping that we can just get it going offensively.

“We’re optimistic because we think that we have a little more to work with this year. We think that we can make a little headway and get out of the bottom tier of the league.”