Coaches agree ECAC Northeast a ‘pretty challenging’ league

Nichols’ Tyler Beasley wants more celebrations this year for the Bison (photo: Richard Orr).

Avoiding the “sophomore slump” is often referred to a player who’s entering his second year after a decent first year.

For Nichols’ Kevin Swallow and Curry’s T.J. Manastersky, they will try to avoid the sophomore slump as head coaches.

Both had outstanding rookie campaigns in 2012-13, going 17-9-1 and 11-12-4, respectively.

“I think every day there’s a different obstacles thrown at you, when you had it figure it out, something happens and you have to make an adjustment,” said Swallow. “That’s the big thing – don’t ever get comfortable because when you think that, things will be thrown at you to throw you off.”

“When you work for a guy like Jeff Meredith, one of the best in the business, you learn some things along the way with a guy like that,” Manastersky said of his experience as an assistant coach at Fredonia from 2008-12. “I still call him because I am seeing things the first time. I say to Jeff, ‘You’ve seen everything twice.’ He’s definitely been an influence in preparing me for the job.”

One of the biggest adjustments Manastersky had to make is going from bringing ideas to the table as an assistant coach to making the decision as a head coach.

For Swallow, who just finished his college career at Maine in 2010, he can communicate with his players very easily.

“I feel I can definitely connect with the guys and that’s a strength of mine,” Swallow said. “I can relate to what they are going through as a student-athletes.”

Both Swallow and Manastersky each have admirable respect for each other.

“T.J. did a great job with his team last year,” Swallow said. “He beat us a couple of times. We are both fortunate enough to take over some decent programs and have success in our first year.”

“Kevin had a great season last year,” added Manastersky. “He stepped right in and did an unbelievable job getting his guys ready.

“It’s an exciting league, we got a lot of great coaches and we have some up-and-coming coaches.”

For the rest of the league, Salve Regina expects to be contenders this season.

The Seahawks, who made it all the way to the ECAC Northeast championship game last year, look to be at the top of the conference all season long.

“I would like to say Salve, but I don’t think they will surprise anybody,” said Manastersky on his pick to win the conference. “I don’t think that was a one-stop deal for them. They are a program that is in a position to have success year in and year out.”

The Salve Ragina recruiting class includes two players with Division I experience in Cam Gaudet (Massachusetts-Lowell) and Justin Jones (Denver).

“Salve Regina had a great finish last year and have some pretty talented players, so they will be right there,” said Swallow. “At the same time, I think there’s a lot depth in our league. I think anybody can beat anyone.”

For Wentworth coach R.J. Tolan, at the end of the day, there’s no easy game in the conference.

“Every game we played, whether it’s against the team that’s in second or the team that finished last, was pretty much a dog fight,” Tolan said. “There are so many good hockey players out there and there are so many good coaches. I think it’s a lot of fun and it’s pretty challenging.”


Nickname: Hawks
2012-13 Record: (10-13-2, 1-11-2)
2012-13 Postseason: None
Head Coach and Record with School: Steve Hoar (66-89-12, 8th season)
Key Returning Players (with ’12-13 stats): Gerald Owen (7-13-20); Cody Edwards (2-9-11); Gregg Hussey (7-9-0, .893 save percentage, 3.65 goals-against average.)
Key Departures: Branden Parkhouse (23-17-40); David Graham (18-21-39); Korby Anderson (11-20-31); Don Kane (4-15-19); Dan Kane (6-9-15)
Key Newcomers: Antonio Baccari (Rochester Ice Hawks (MNJHL) 6-14-20); Ian Reffert (New Mexico Renegades (WSHL) (8-6-14); Kyle Godfrey (Fresno Monsters (WSHL) 16-17-33); Connor Merrick (New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (EMJHL) 21-36-57).
Prediction – 7th — The Hawks know how to win, which was demonstrated by their nonconference record. Now they need to take last year’s nonconference success and turn it into success into the conference. Becker will be without their top four scorers last year and last year’s secondary options will have to be the go-to option.


Nickname: Colonels
2012-13 Record: (11-11-4, 7-3-2)
2012-13 Postseason: Lost to Johnson & Wales 6-4 in the ECAC Northeast quarterfinals
Head Coach and Record with School: T.J. Manastersky (11-11-4 2nd season)
Key Returning Players (with ’12-13 stats): Brandon Gilmore (9-12-21); Jordan Reed (8-13-21); Michael Lopez (5-6-11); Derek Mohney (5-6-3) .892 save percentage, 2.97 goals-against average)
Key Departures: Ian DeLong (14-16-30); Brett Kaneshiro (1-18-19); Connor Hendry (7-10-17); Casey Brugman (7-10-17); Joe Dawson (6-5-1, .919 save percentage, 2.83 goals-against average)
Key Newcomers: Brett Sinclair (Aurora Tigers (OJHL)13-6-5, .920 save-percentage, 2.72 goals against average); Ellery O’Hara (Burlington Cougars (OJHL) 5-12-17); Tommy Tsicos (Orangeville Flyers (OJHL) 6-13-19); Sean Nelson (Portland Jr. Pirates (EJHL) 9-23-32); Tyler Vankleef (Burlington Cougars (OJHL) 21-19-40); Mike Apreda (5-23-28); Jake Heisinger (19-39-58)
Prediction – 5th — Curry lost a bulk of their scoring last year and Brandon Gilmore will look to be the go-to guy offensively as a sophomore. Derek Mohney will have his chance to be the No. 1 goaltender this season as he put up solid numbers as a backup. Manastersky seems to found a good recruiting base in Ontario as eight freshmen came from the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Johnson and Wales

Nickname: Wildcats
2012-13 Record: (10-16-1, 5-8-1)
2012-13 Postseason: Lost to Wentworth 4-1 in the ECAC Northeast semifinals
Head Coach and Record with School: Eric Noack (99-148-15, 11th season )
Key Returning Players (with ’12-13 stats): Josh Obregon (12-11-23); Alex Porrier (8-14-22); Daniel Chang (9-12-21); Eddie Patterson (7-10-17);
Key Departures: Danny Kaufman (15-14-29); Jason Pietrasiak (9-15-24); Trevor Jewell (9-9-18); Matt Cooper (10-14-1, .889 save percentage, 4.11 goals-against average.)
Key Newcomers: Taylor Porrier (Boulder Jr. Bison (WSHL) 7-24-31); Stefan Brucato (Idaho Jr. Steelheads (WSHL) 34-68-102); Drew Kariofiles (Topeka Roadrunner (NAHL) 12-9-21); Ben Brouillard (Philadelphia Jr. Flyers (AJHL) 17-15-32); Joey Ballmer (Jamestown Ironmen (NAHL) 9-5-0, .920 save percentage, 2.34 goals-against average.
Prediction – 6th — The Wildcats are posed to make another deep playoff run despite losing their top two scorers from last year’s squad. They have a good core coming back plus a couple from freshmen who put up points in juniors. The biggest question mark for Johnson and Wales will be the goaltending. With Matt Cooper gone, they might have to rely on freshman Joey Ballmer, who had an outstanding year in the NAHL last year. He’s battle-tested from his three-year NAHL career, not having a save percentage lower than .900.


Nickname: Bison
2012-13 Record: (16-9-1, 9-4-1)
2012-13 Postseason: Lost to Salve Regina 3-2 in the ECAC Northeast semifinals
Head Coach and Record with School: Kevin Swallow (16-9-1, 2nd season)
Key Returning Players (with ’12-13 stats): Tyler Beasley (14-14-28); Joe Sposit (9-10-19); Frank Butler (10-8-18); Paul Prescott (5-11-16); Brett Jackson (1-14-15); Alex Larson (10-7-1, .928 save-percentage, 2.32 goals against average); Dylan Woodring (5-2-0, .902 save percentage, 2.60 goals-against-average).
Key Departures: Zach Kohn (4-13-17); Danny Greiner (8-6-14).
Key Newcomers: Donald Rudd (Philadelphia Jr. Flyers (AJHL) 6-27-33); Sean Swansen (Northern Cyclones (AJHL) 15-19-34) Joey Quintana (Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (AJHL) 13-26-39); Mike Weaver (New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) 5-6-11);
Prediction – 2nd — Nichols had a very good season under first-year head coach Kevin Swallow last year. They were a young squad and didn’t lose much in the offseason. The biggest strength they have coming into the season has to be their goaltending. Expectations are high this year and they have a team that can meet those expectations.

Salve Regina

Nickname: Seahawks
2012-13 Record: (10-14-3, 5-7-2)
2012-13 Postseason: Lost to Wentworth 3-1 in the ECAC-Northeast Championship game
Head Coach and Record with School: Andrew Boschetto (19-54-5, 4th season)
Key Returning Players (with ’12-13 stats): John Scorcia (11-20-31); Marc Biggs (15-10-25); Cameron Gaudet (13-12-25); Michael Naso (11-14-25); Peter Gintoli (12-12-24); David Chiokadze (5-6-1, .892 save percentage, 3.74 goals-against-average)
Key Departures: Mike McDonald (4-8-2, .876 save percentage, 4.07 goals-against-average.)
Key Newcomers: Jonathan Felteau (Northern Cyclones (AJHL) 24-56-80); Justin Jones (Denver (WCHA); Trace Redmond (Wenatachee Wild (NAHL) 7-11-18)
Prediction – 3rd — Salve Regina came on strong at the end of last season, making it all the way to the ECAC Northeast championship game. The Seahawks have five guys with 24 or more points returning. David Chiokadze, while he didn’t put up impressive numbers, gained valuable experience in net as a freshman. They have a small freshman class coming in, but it’s a couple guys who can step in and make an impact this season.


Nickname: Rams
2012-13 Record: (3-21-0, 1-13-0)
2012-13 Postseason: None
Head Coach and Record with School: Chris Glionna (67-134-20, 10th season)
Key Returning Players (with ’12-13 stats): Charlie McGinnis (12-10-22); Jon Stauffer (4-7-11);
Key Departures: Josh Goryl (2-8-10); Cam Kelley (2-19-0, .849 save-percentage, 5.34 goals-against-average).
Key Newcomers: Sean Heelen (Catholic Memorial (Mass.) High School) 1-9-10); Garrett Stephenson (Washington Jr. Nationals (AJHL) 7-10-17); Stanton Turner (Walpole Express (AJHL) 16-13-29);
Prediction – 8th — Suffolk had a dismal this year and looks to be more competitive this season. They will need to find a running mate to go along with Charlie McGinnis to kick-start the offense. The loss of Cam Kelly hurts because the Rams relied on him heavily in net last season.


Nickname: Leopards
2012-13 Record: (16-9-3, 10-2-2)
2012-13 Postseason: Lost to Babson 6-1 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Head Coach and Record with School: R.J. Tolan (117-62-14, 8th season)
Key Returning Players (with ’12-13 stats): Kevin Crowe (10-11-21); Mike Cox (5-16-21); Mike Domsodi (6-13-19); Adam Frank (11-5-16); Devin Cobbold (9-6-15); Joel Miller (13-2-3 .922 save percentage, 2.06 goals-against-average); Alex Peck (3-6-1, .901 save-percentage, 2.57 goals-against-average).
Key Departures: Shaun Jameson (5-22-27).
Key Newcomers: Stephen McManus (Salem State (MASCAC) 0-12-12); Jake Flynn (Austin Bruins (NAHL) 1-20-21); Dan Szerlip (Concordia (MCHA) 5-9-14); Robert Mantha (Bay State Breakers (EJHL) 5-18-23); Connor Crowe (Toledo Cherokee (NA3HL) 14-19-33)
Prediction – 1st — The Leopards are the favorites again and look to repeat as ECAC Northeast champions. Their only impact loss in the offseason was the graduation of their leading scorer, Shaun Jameson. They bring in an impressive recruiting class, including two players with Division III experience. Goaltending will once again be a strength for Wentworth.

Western New England

Nickname: Golden Bears
2012-13 Record: (11-15-0, 8-6-0)
2012-13 Postseason: Lost to Salve Regina 8-4 in the ECAC Northeast quarterfinals.
Head Coach and Record with School: Greg Heffernan (37-65-3, 5th season)
Key Returning Players (with ’12-13 stats): Brandon Stroud (15-17-32); Brian Prost (8-17-25); John Kelly (7-12-19); Dan Monahan (7-12-19); Alan Martin (13-5-18); Will Preston (4-13-17); Eric Sorenson (5-8-0, .901 save-percentage, 3.89 goals-against-average); Tim Carr (5-6-1, .913 save percentage, 3.21 goals-against-average.)
Key Departures: None
Key Newcomers: Tyler Pionk (Atlanta Knights (EJHL-South) 12-10-22); Kyle Williams (Syracuse Stampede (NSHL) 4-10-14); Josh Twietmeyer (West Sound Warriors (NORPAC) 36-44-80); Joe Budnick (Connecticut (Atlantic Hockey) 1-0-1)
Prediction – 4th — The Golden Bears are bringing nearly all their offense back from last year, which had 11 players with 10 or more points. To add to the firepower, Joe Budnick, who spent the previous two seasons with UConn, joins the fray. Western New England has two solid goaltenders back and look for both of them to improve from their sophomore year.