When you think of Hobart hockey players, two factors usually come to mind: character and role players. Statesmen head coach Mark Taylor is known for recruiting players that are good, all-around kids that each fits a specific place in the puzzle.
Shawn Houde, who graduated from Hobart last spring, was perhaps the epitome of the Hobart hockey player both on and off the ice. Replacing Houde will not be easy for coach Taylor this season.
â€œShawn Houde is a big loss in the sense that he was the first sole captain Iâ€™ve had here during my time,â€ said Taylor. â€œHe was a complete player on the ice in terms of being a power play guy, a shorthanded goal guy, and used in every situation. He was a lot of the glue off the ice too. He is a big loss from that side.â€
â€œThe part Iâ€™ve been grateful for is Iâ€™ve had great leadership year after year,â€ continued Taylor. â€œThere is always someone stepping in from one year to the next to really run the show. Iâ€™m confident heâ€™s handed that off to someone else.â€
Coach Taylor is back to having a pair of captains this year with Ryan Adler and Andy Brennan.
Inside the Statesmen zone, defense and goaltending are not a worry for Hobart this year. The Statesmen return their entire corps of defensemen which were third in the league last year in team defense. Also returning in senior goaltender Keith Longo, who will see the majority of time in net.
Hobart brought in a pair of freshmen goaltenders to spell Longo when needed throughout the season.
â€œKeith Longo is the guy coming back,â€ said Taylor. â€œIt is everyoneâ€™s expectations that Longo is going to be the guy. Weâ€™ve got Terje Larsson from Sweden and Colin Saltiel as freshmen goaltenders who are going to have to prove that they can get it done this year, challenge and spot Keith in any way. At least we need someone to spot him so he stays fresh and they will have the opportunity to prove that they are ready to take over that spot that has been a real plus for us.â€
The largest number of changes come up front this season, as four freshmen forwards with a decidedly ethnic flare join the ranks of the Statesmen. Greg Ciciola, Anthony Scarpino, Rick Longobardi, and Nick Stefinelli all join Hobart this year.
â€œEverybodyâ€™s laughing because it is Little Italy,â€ said coach Taylor. â€œI went over to Italy with my family on vacation but some guys were joking that I was recruiting over there. The freshmen guys are looking good. I think we have a pretty balanced group up front.â€
After making it back to the NCAA tournament last season, Hobart is looking to build on its success this coming year.
â€œTo do all the things weâ€™ve been known to do is always a challenge,â€ said Taylor. â€œWe play a very workman type game, attention to detail, and all those things you have to do. Even if you are a talented team, that is always your biggest challenge.
â€œTo do all the little things you have to do to have success that separate the winning and losing the tight game. Last year was our most consistent year, not just having a good year but in the sense that I didnâ€™t grade any game less than a B- as a team. That is a nice feeling and the goal. What got us in the NCAA was how consistent we were all year.â€