Defensive depth to drive men’s hockey

Men’s ice hockey is gearing up for what they hope will be strong 2011-12 season, building on a 2010-11 campaign in which the men compiled a 16-8-3 (11-6-2 in the NESCAC). The Ephs are looking to race to the top of the NESCAC after falling to Bowdoin in last season’s conference finals. 

The men graduated nine seniors last year, including Brian Malchoff  ’11, Matt Masucci ’11, Connor Olvany ’11, Ryan Young ’11 and First Team All-NESCAC forward Ben Contini ’11. However, the team will return four senior defensemen – Patrick Morrissey ’12 and co-captains Stephen Maier ’12, Ryan Scott ’12 and Justin Troiani ’12 – and goalie Ryan Purdy ’12. “Our team’s strength is that we have four senior defensemen,” Head Coach Bill Kangas said. “It’s unheard of to have that much experience in back. We also have Purdy coming back, so we have good defense in back.”

The Ephs turn to returning forwards Eric Rubino ’13 and co-captain John Wickman ’13 on offense. “They had the lion’s share of the work last year,” Kangas said, “and it’ll be good to have their experience. Our defense’s confidence can only help our forwards. When you have a good defense and a good goalie, it really helps your forwards.”

The Ephs will seek to iron out the details of their game in their final practices. “The keys to our season are going to be strong five-on-five and do the little things, like staying out of the box and playing well on power plays,” Kangas said.

Kangas emphasized that the NESCAC will be extremely competitive this year, forcing the men to play every game with intensity. “Our league is so competitive and has been competitive over the last three years,” Kangas said. “We can’t look beyond tonight’s practice. We open against Bowdoin, and they beat us in the finals this year. They’re one of the strongest teams in our league, and it’s going to be a very competitive game. We’re not looking too far ahead.”

Williams will host Bowdoin in its season opener on Saturday at 7 p.m. before Colby comes to town on Sunday for a 3 p.m. faceoff. The men will finish their home stand with a matchup against Babson on Tuesday.