Anna Maria winning systematically

Sophomore Jack Sitzman sits sixth in the nation in goal scoring this season. (Photo by Anna Maria Athletics)

Following an inaugural season that finished at 4-16-4, coach Dave McCauley’s aspirations for the AmCats were much higher entering their second season playing as an independent. With eight games remaining on the schedule, Anna Maria is 9-5-3 on the season and looking for more winning hockey to close out a winning season.

“I am really pleased with the process the team has made from year one to year two,” noted McCauley. “We added some depth to the roster and still need some more but that has helped us this season. Most importantly, the team has bought into our system of play and is executing it on a consistent basis. When we play our system and stay committed to it, we have played some pretty good hockey this season. I thought we played very well and in our system against Johnson & Wales last week in a 3-0 win. We played a good Brockport team very close until the end and then got away from our game in the 4-1 loss to Assumption. Overall, we have achieved some good results, but we have eight more games to play that will dictate the success of the season.”

Among the nine wins are strong performances on the road against Suffolk, Worcester State and St. Anselm this season. In those three games alone, the AmCats have showed off more than just their strong execution of their system but also some great offensive skill. Sophomores Jack Sitzman, Sam Cyr-Ledoux and Gavin Proeh who are the top three, point producers for Anna Maria so far this season.

“Those three guys, and I would add freshman Michael Padgeon, have been difference makers for us on the ice,” said McCauley. “Jack has consistently been among the top goal scorers in the country at the D-III level this season and he and Sam have very good chemistry on the ice whether it is even-strength or man-up situations. Combined they have 24 goals this season including seven game winners, so they score a lot of goals and important ones too.”

The other big area of improvement has been found in the goaltending of sophomore Julius Huset who enters Wednesday night’s game against Westfield State with a 2.27 goals-against average, .928 save percentage, two shutouts and a 7-4-2 record in 18 games played. The AmCats surrender more than 31 shots per game so Huset has been active in the crease and his numbers have demonstrated his consistent level of play.

“Julius has played really well for us this season,” said McCauley. “He has kept us in games and given us chances to win in the games he has played. He really wanted to be the starter this season and dedicated himself to being physically ready to play a lot of hockey. I think he lost more than 20 pounds in getting ready for the season and you can see his reactions and movements are crisp and quick. He certainly has been an important part of our success to date.”

After three games in five nights last week, the AmCats face the same challenge this week when Westfield State visits on Wednesday night and fellow independent Bryn Athyn plays a two-game series at Anna Maria on Friday and Saturday. The five remaining games include two on the road against a strong Canton squad, a home game against Albertus Magnus followed by a road game against Stonehill before closing the season out against Post at home on Tuesday, February 11.

“We definitely have an opportunity to get some more wins and build on the success of the season,” noted McCauley. “There aren’t any easy ones out there and like most teams we are going to have to battle through some injuries and the flu. Like I said in the beginning, when we play our system and stay true to it, we play pretty good hockey – we are going to need that to get results in the remaining games.”