With the snow already falling and temperatures dropping just as fast, it’s no surprise that the men’s ice hockey season-opener is right around the corner. After finishing the regular season last winter 9-11-4 overall (7-8-4 in the NESCAC) and falling to Middlebury in the first round of the NESCAC tournament, the team hopes to improve upon its seventh-place finish last season.
The team graduated a handful of pivotal players last year, including offensive leader Brandon Jackmuff ’08 and Greg Schultz ’08 and Wooden Cup-winner Will Bruce ’08.
“Although we will miss the offensive ability of Jackmuff and the leadership of Bruce, this is a new team and a new season,” co-captain Alex Smigelski ’10 said. “Leadership is coming from players in every class and the culture of our team has changed. We are going to be passionate, persistent and positive no matter what happens.”
The team is counting on the skill and talent of their new recruits, including Patrick Morrissey ’12, Stephen Maier ’12, Justin Troiani ’12 and Ryan Scott ’12 in defense, as well as forwards Richie Iskra ’12, Sasha Voloshin ’12 and Al Graves ’12. Ryan Purdy ’12 will be likely be sharing time with two-time NESCAC Athlete of the Week Mark Pulde ’10 in goal, as well as returning goalies Rob Wilechansky ’11 and Rick Redmond ’09.
Last year, the team’s season was described as being “marked by potential but marred by inconsistency.” From mid January to early February, the Ephs only managed to notch one win out of six games played. This inconsistency is certainly one of the team’s biggest hurdles to overcome as it prepares for the season.
The Ephs are concentrating on their attack this season, specifically on power play opportunities. “We have been working on our power play and our neutral game zone the most so far in practice,” Smigelski said. “We know that with new rules as far as penalties go, it is important to be able to score on the power play. This has been a major weakness in the past and right now we have two units that are going to put the puck in the net. In this league you get so many opportunities on the power play that it is impossible to win games unless you capitalize.”
Helping Williams’ hopes of moving further up in the NESCAC standings will be returning offensive contributors Andrew Lepore ’10, Matt Masucci ’11, Ryan Young ’11 and Smigelski. Brian Malchoff ’11 will help lead the defense.
With a deep roster, the team looks to make it far into the postseason. “Hopefully, this year our team can remain healthy and fighting for a NESCAC crown,” co-captain Chris Fahey ’09 said.
“We want to get the community more involved with our games because this is going to be a great season for us and it really helps to have a lot of support,” Smigelski said.
The team opens the season on Nov. 21 when it hosts Tufts at home at 7 p.m.