Younger players growing up fast for American International

American International won only five games during the 2008-09 season, but played some of its best hockey late in that season.

Coach Gary Wright hoped that the strong finish would bode well for his 2009-10 squad. But AIC again won only five games last season, albeit with another strong finish. Hope springs eternal.

“We felt down the stretch that we showed some marked improvement,” Wright said of last year’s team. “You hope every year that you’re going to be strong but this year I think we have a little more. We have a combination of returnees and newcomers that we’re happy with.”

A bright spot last season was the play of Adam Pleskach, who led the team in scoring as a freshman with 15 goals and 25 points. Pleskach was named to the Atlantic Hockey all-rookie team.

“The nice thing about Adam is that he is as fine a person as a player,” Wright said. “Just because someone sores 15 goals as a freshman doesn’t make him a leader, but Adam has that leadership potential. He’ll be one of our assistant captains this season.”

Another rookie, Ben Meisner, took over the majority of the goaltending duties in the second half of last season. His main competition for time last season, Dan Ramirez, has left the team to explore professional opportunities.

“It’s seldom that we have a kid leave after his junior year,” Wright said. “But we have a freshman coming in that will push Ben.”

That would be 6-foot-6 Ryan Kerpan, who posted a .904 save percentage last season in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

“He’s a big kid and has some skill,” Wright said. “We obviously need to improve our goal scoring and our goaltending. We need to get more competitive.”

The first semester will be challenging for AIC. After three home games to start the season, the Yellow Jackets will be on the road for 10 of their next 12 contests.

“We can’t afford to wait to play our best hockey at the end of the year,” Wright said. “We need to get some good games under our belts early.”


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