(Fairfield, CT) - The Sacred Heart Men's Hockey team has announced its incoming players for the 2011-12 season. The group includes two transfer players and seven freshmen to date.
The Pioneers are looking to shore up their blue line with the addition of three defensemen, including the two transfers. Jordan Ciccarello (New Hartford, CT) will begin his Pioneer career as a sophomore after sitting last season following his transfer from Clarkson. "He adds an element of skill and toughness to our blue line," said head coach C.J. Marottolo. "He is ultra competitive."
Will Rayner (Newton, MA) joins him on defense after transfer from UMASS-Lowell following the end of last semester. At 6-3, Marottolo envisions him bringing a physical presence to the line-up. "He will add size and toughness to our blue line, and will make our team tougher to play against in our own end," said Marottolo. "He has a great knack for open-ice hits." Before his brief time at UMASS-Lowell, he played at South Kent Prep and Needham (Mass.) High School.
Jared Eng (North Vancouver, BC) rounds out the incoming blue-liners. The freshman is known as a skilled, poised, and very good puck-moving transitional type of defenseman. Last season, he scored seven goals with 23 assists in 57 games for the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League, displaying what Marottolo called "great vision and power play skills from the back end."
"Ciccarello and Rayner are big, strong, tough, competitive, warrior-type guys," said Marottolo. "Combined with a smooth-skating offensive-minded guy in Eng, joining our returning group of defensemen, we feel very confident with our defensive core."
Up front, Sacred Heart will look to benefit from the addition of five forwards.
Ben Lake (Calgary, AB) comes to SHU known for being a fast, strong, two-way center who is very good in face offs. "He'll bring grit, intelligence, and speed," said Marottolo. The past two seasons for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, he scored consistently. He followed up his 2009-10 scoring line of 24-27-51 in 58 games with a 2010-11 scoring line of 23-29-52 in 53 games.
Brian Sheehan (St. Louis, MO) begins his collegiate career after tallying a line of 23-44-67 in 44 games for the Jersey Hitmen of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. "He is extremely skilled with a great, quick stick, said Marottolo. "We're looking for him to a point producer."
Chad Barthelmess (Norristown, PA) also come to Fairfield by way of the EJHL, after totaling 24-23-47 in 42 games for the Springfield Pics last year. "He is strong, fast, and can really shoot a puck," said Marottolo.
Ryan Stanimir (West Vancouver, BC) looks to build on a season in the British Columbia Hockey League in which he produced nearly a point per game (20-35-55 in 56 games) for the Nanaimo Clippers. "He has a good stick, very good hockey IQ, and great offensive instincts," said Marottolo.
Drew George (Regina, SK) comes to the Pioneers by way of the Weyburn Red Wings of the Saskatoon Junior Hockey League, where he put up a scoring total of 21-36-57 in 47 games. "He is highly skilled, and a great play-maker who can make those around him better," said Marottolo.
Sacred Heart has also added a goalie to their roster in Andrew Bodnarchuk (Saskatoon, SK), from the Humboldt Broncos of the highly competitive Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. This past season, he compiled a record of 22-13-1 with a 3.25 GAA and .895 Save Percentage. Two seasons ago, he was the MVP of the league with a record of 18-14-1-5 with a 2.82 GAA and .916 Save Percentage in 2,216 minutes.
"We're extremely excited about our incoming group," said Marottolo. "We feel we've addressed certain needs, reevaluated our team, and these young men combined with our returning players should make for an exciting year for Sacred Heart Hockey."
The Pioneers open their season October 7-8 on the road for two games against the University of Minnesota.