Men’s ice hockey kicks off season

National No. 13 men’s ice hockey is prepared to face the regular season despite the loss of five skaters, including NESCAC Player of the Year and top scorer Alex Smigelski ’10 as well as netminder Marc Pulde ’10.

“Obviously, we want to build on last season,” Head Coach Bill Kangas said. “That’s our goal. I think we had a good year, we had some nice wins and I think this team has high expectations. We want to get to the NESCAC, win that first playoff game, head to the final four and see what we can do from there.” Assistant Coach Ryan Hardy will join Kangas this season.

Kangas noted that despite the loss of last year’s leaders, the team still has a strong base upon which to build. The Ephs will return their top netminder in Ryan Purdy ’12, who posted a .936 save percentage last season, and their entire starting defense, including First Team All-NESCAC player Brian Malchoff ’11 and Justin Troiani ’11.

On the offensive side, the men roster four senior forwards in Ben Contini ’11, Connor Olvany ’11, Ryan Young ’11 and co-captain Matt Masucci ’11. Kangas expects a lot of his team, especially from Masucci and co-captain Ryan Scott ’12. “The two have done a great job of pulling the team together,” Kangas said. “Matt Masucci is our leader, and we expect a lot from him. Certainly we have to lean on [the seniors] a bit.” Four of this year’s rookies will step in at forward, leaving the team with no shortage of potential scorers.

The team has focused on “playing controlled and at a fast pace” during the preseason in order to prepare, according to Kangas. Key for the Ephs this year will be focusing on each competition as it comes. “A big focus this year is being ready for every game,” Kangas said. “We had some tough losses last year and we realized we have to prepare for every game like we prepare for a championship game.”

The men will start with three home games, against Conn. College at 7 p.m. Friday, Tufts at 3 p.m. Saturday and Westfield State at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.