There is a youth movement afoot at Hobart this season. Take 10 freshmen who join the roster this season, add in two sophomore Division-I transfers, mix with seven returning sophomores, and you have a very young Statesmen team.
With such a youthful squad, head coach Mark Taylor isnâ€™t quite sure what to expect at the start of the season.
â€œIt will kind of be a little bit of a wait and see,â€ said Taylor. â€œWe have 12 new names on the roster and are being renewed a little bit. We need to get some new combos and chemistry, and renew some trademarks that you like to have your team be concerned with. It is enjoyable to have a young team and get it rolling.â€
One aspect of the team that Taylor doesnâ€™t have to worry about is goaltending. With two seniors (Dmitry Papaevagelou, Trevor Pieri) and a junior (Keith Longo), the Statesmen have the most experienced trio of netminders in the entire league.
â€œIâ€™m real happy with the goaltender trio,â€ said Taylor. â€œBut we have some unfinished business from last year. No one is happy with how we ended it.â€
Taylor is referring to Hobartâ€™s 3-5-1 fade at the end of the regular season and overtime loss to Elmira in the ECAC West Quarterfinals.
Highlighting the new players for Hobart are the two sophomores Division-I transfers. Forward Nick DeCroo (2-3-5 in 22 games) transferred in from Bentley and defenseman Jordan Zitoun (a goal in 5 games) joined from Quinnipiac.
â€œThese are guys with experience,â€ said Taylor. â€œBoth are academically real[ly] good and were looking for something that Hobart had to offer. It was all positive.â€
One experience the new players wonâ€™t have to learn is playing outdoors. After a summer-long construction period, the long awaited rink enclosure is nearly complete. Ninety percent of the glass walls are built, the de-humidification system in ready to go, and the new press box is done. The team was even able to get on the ice a week earlier than originally planned. Aesthetically, everything about the rink is elevated this season.
Even with the newly renovated home, the measure of the season will all come down to how the newcomers fit in.
â€œThe biggest challenge is pulling together the whole team, forming that identity and way of play to try and win games in a league that is extremely competitive,â€ said Taylor. â€œMy system isnâ€™t really a system, you just have to come to the rink, play hard, and endorse the passion.â€
Hobart has the most experienced goaltender trio in the league and always has a strong defense-first game plan. Will the 12 new players buy into the scheme? If they do, Hobart might be off to the races.