The Dutch tied for tenth in the league in both overall and in-conference scoring, but fortunately Union only said goodbye to Coyle (7-10-17) among its top scorers.
“There’s a good deal of familiarity with this team,” said coach Nate Leaman. “It’s going to be a fun group; we’re excited to get going.”
The surprise fourth-place Dutchmen won their first-ever bye with a lot of timely play from all corners of the ice. That said, no specific facet of the Garnet and White proved singlehandedly dominant last year, and the offense was no exception. In fact, the Dutch were outscored 57-50 in ECAC play.
The top five scorers are back in the fold in Presizniuk, Boileau, junior Jason Walters (5-15-20), senior Matt Cook (10-9-19) and junior Mario Valery-Trabucco (9-8-17). Cook was the only Dutchman to score 10 goals, and Leaman believes he knows the problem.
“We have to manufacture second-chance opportunities on offense,” he said.
Likewise, youth was a major issue. “Last year, we were led by two freshmen. Now we’re more experienced,” he said.
Additions to the arsenal include Kelly Zajac from Salmon Arm, B.C. — brother of former North Dakota players Darcy and Travis Zajac — and Brian Yanovitch, a top player for Bridgewater of the Eastern Junior league.
“[Zajac] has a good head for the game … they’re going to be good forwards in this league,” predicted Leaman.
Michael Beynon (2-5-7) was the only senior on Leaman’s blue line last year, and this year’s unit returns four 30-game players from last year. Senior Lane Caffaro (3-13-16) earned a preseason All-League placement, and classmate Brendan Milnamow (2-7-9) earned Leaman’s praise.
“Milnamow went under the radar in the league last year … he will grab some attention” this time, he said.
Union’s D finished tied for fifth in the league with 57 ECAC goals against, at 2.6 goals against per game. Three fresh faces have signed on to the corps this season, but only time will tell what kind of contributions they can make.
Mrazek and Milan split time pretty evenly last season, but with Mrazek’s graduation, it’s Milan’s team now.
The sophomore earned Rookie Team honors last season with a 2.53 goals-against mark and a .907 save percentage, and will be pressed by Wayne State ex-pat Brett Bothwell.
To put it to you straight, Union absolutely will not duplicate last year’s finish if it can’t score more goals. The Dutchmen became the only team in the 48-year history of the ECAC to finish in the top four with a negative goal differential, and that isn’t likely to happen again any time soon.
Milan has the goods, and the defense knows its job. It’s up to you, forwards … let’s see what you’ve got.