Entering last season, the big question mark for Manhattanville was in net as the Valiants attempted to find a replacement for first-team All American Andrew Gallant. Down the stretch, freshman Steve Parry seemed to step to the forefront culminating with a huge shutout of Elmira in the ECAC West Championship game to lift Manhattanville to its second consecutive league title.
This year, goaltending appears to be well in hand as two sophomores return (Parry and Sergiy Sorokolat) and a freshman (Charlie Ogalin) joins the team.
â€œEssentially, weâ€™re coming back with the same goaltending lineup that we had down the stretch,â€ said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal.
This yearâ€™s question marks revolve around who will fill the big shoes left by the graduation of Jason Murfitt and Chris Wanchulak.
â€œProbably the two biggest losses would have been Jason Murfitt and Chris Wanchulak,â€ said Levinthal. â€œThose were two guys that logged a lot of ice time for us and are very difficult to replace.â€
Those are significant holes for the Valiants, as Murfitt tallied 126 points in his 106 game collegiate career and Wanchulak was a rock-solid defenseman that every coach would love to have on their team.
Manhattanville brought in a very large freshman class this season, 14 in all, to fill the many holes both at the blue line and amongst the forwards.
â€œWeâ€™ve got a lot of new faces here because we graduated a fairly decent size class,â€ said Levinthal. â€œWeâ€™ve got a pretty talented group but a lot of inexperience at a number of key spots. I think it is a group that can achieve great things, but it is unproven.â€
Nestled amongst the recruits are four players from Sweden, two of whom played together on the Frolunda Indians last season.
â€œOne of the big questions marks is there is a contingent of Europeans in the class, in terms of their adjustment to the U.S. college,â€ said Levinthal.
As has been seen in many of the international tournaments, European teams tend to play a more wide open style of game, usually on an Olympic size ice surface. How these players will adjust to the narrow confines of Playland Ice Arena will be interesting to watch.
Manhattanville has a tough travel schedule this season, never playing more than a single regular weekend at home, and are on the road for consecutive weekends three times during the season. But maybe that isnâ€™t all bad for the Valiants?
â€œThe good thing about our schedule is the way we play the game, being on the road isnâ€™t a bad thing for us,â€ said Levinthal. â€œWith our style of play actually sometimes at home we try to be someone weâ€™re not. When weâ€™re on the road, weâ€™ve been pretty disciplined and committed to what we are trying to do. I donâ€™t think it is a major disadvantage. Just the travel is the tough part.â€