Men’s ice hockey seeks winning season

After a disappointing 2006-7 season, men’s hockey returns to the ice this winter with high expectations for its young squad. Returning only four seniors, the team expects its underclassmen to make large contributions. Despite their struggles last season, men’s hockey is confident about the upcoming season.

Last season, Williams was knocked out of the first round of the NESCAC tournament when the team fell to Middlebury, 5-1. The loss ended their season at 8-14-2, 8-9-2 in the NESCAC. This record was a marked difference from the year before when the team had a ten game win-streak. “Last year was tough,” Steve Bruch ’08 said. “We struggled throughout the season and definitely fell short of our preseason goals.”

However, for Bruch there was a silver lining in last year’s troubled season. “The main thing that stands out [about last season] would be the progress our underclassmen made last year,” he said. “Towards the end of the season, they played exceptionally well and many even became active leaders on the team. This summer, many improved greatly and if the preseason is any indication, they will only continue to progress and help carry this team throughout the year.”

Players like Alex Smigelski ’10, Owen Holm ’10 and Andrew Lepore ’10 were valuable scorers last season and will be necessary contributors to this season’s success. Smigelski was the second leading scorer on the team last season with seven goals while Holm contributed five and Lepore put in two. The team will also look to rookies Matt Masucci ’11 and Ryan Young ’11, as well as six other first-years.

“The rookies are going to have to step-up and contribute right away, especially on defense,” William Bruce ’08 said. “Luckily, we have a very strong first-year class. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of rookies are top point-getters.”

With the loss of four strong players to graduation, Williams has a large hole to fill in its line-up. Former captain Steve Lunau ’07, Colin Greenhalgh ’07, Kevin Colwell ’07 and Matt McCarthy ’07 had nine combined goals, 28 combined assists and they were also major players on the defensive end. Current seniors Brandon Jackmuff ’08, Greg Schultz ’08, Bruce and Bruch will step up to lead the team both on and off the ice.

Other players who are likely to be strong players this season include Brett Haraguchi ’09, who scored six goals and had five assists last season, and Matt Draheim ’09 with two goals and seven assists.

Three competitive goalies give the Ephs depth in front of the net. Marc Pulde ’10 and Rick Redmond ’09 return after a successful season last winter and newcomer Rob Wilechansky ’11 will compete for playing time this year. “We have two great returning goalies who have played great for us in the past and a freshman who can rival each of them,” Bruch said.

With a young but strong team Williams looks forward to starting their season and facing NESCAC foes, specifically Amherst. “I haven’t lost to Amherst in my three years here and I hope to make it four straight years that we beat them,” Schultz said. “I pretty much hate all other NESCAC teams equally.”

Men’s hockey begins its season at Tufts on Friday followed by a game at Conn. College on Saturday.

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