Sept. 29, 2003
FAIRFIALD, CT (September 29, 2003) - The Sacred Heart University men's ice hockey team was picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Hockey preseason coaches poll. The Pioneers finished tied for third at the end of the regular season in the 2002-03 campaign with Holy Cross and were eliminated in the first round of the MAAC Tournament by Bentley.
Junior Garrett Larson (Rycroft, AB) was selected to the Preseason All Atlantic Hockey Second Team. Larson was the second leading scorer last season for the Pioneers with 13 goals and 26 assists for 39 points. He led the team in power play goals with seven and was second on the squad with a +19 as a sophomore.
Atlantic Hockey is a new NCAA Division-I hockey league, consisting of nine members of the former MAAC conference. Those members are AIC, Army, Bentley, Canisius, UConn, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart.
The Pioneers will open their season with the annual Red & White game on October 4 and will play their first game of the regular season on October 10 when the team travels to Merrimack. Sacred Heart will open their Atlantic Hockey schedule when the play Holy Cross on October 18 at the Maine Black Bear Classic.
The Official Atlantic Hockey press release is as follows:
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Mercyhurst has been tabbed as the preseason favorite to claim the inaugural Atlantic Hockey Association regular-season title as voted upon by the league's head coaches. Quinnipiac's Matt Craig was named the preseason "Player of the Year" and Army's Brad Roberts preseason "Goalie of the Year" today at the league's media day held inside the Kimsey Athletic Center at West Point, N.Y.
The Lakers eye a run towards another conference title this winter, returning 18 players for the 2003-04 campaign, while only losing five to graduation. Mercyhurst welcomes back eight forwards, who totaled 17 points or better last season. Junior David Wrigley (Washago, Ontario) led the team in goals (17) and points (41) and was first among returnees in assists with 24. Junior Rich Hansen (Northport, N.Y.), an All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference second team selection a year ago, was runner-up in scoring for head coach Rick Gotkin with 36 points. He listed second in goals (15) and tied for second in power play tallies (5) as well. Sophomore Scott Reynolds (Kerrobert, Saskatchewan), the MAAC "Co-Offensive Rookie of the Year" in 2002-03, finished his inaugural season with 10 goals, 19 assists and 29 points - good for fourth on the team.
Mercyhurst returns its top defender in junior T.J. Kemp (Pickering, Ontario). Kemp finished fifth on the team in scoring (11-16 - 27) earning All-MAAC second team honors. The Lakers will look for another solid season in goal from sophomore Andy Franck (Lakewood, Ohio), who started every game in the second half of last season, finishing with a 20-6-0 record.
Following Mercyhurst in the preseason poll were: Quinnipiac, Holy Cross, Sacred Heart, Canisius, Army, Bentley, Connecticut and American International, respectively.
Craig, a native of London, Ontario, tied for the MAAC lead in points last season with 41, scoring 18 goals and registering 23 assists for Quinnipiac. He was a 2003 All-MAAC first team performer. During Craig's freshman season, he was tabbed the 2002 MAAC Tournament MVP and named to the all-tournament team.
Roberts (Cassville, N.Y.) is the reigning "Goalie of the Year" in the league and a preseason favorite to once again walk away with the award. He is the cornerstone of a strong defense and a big reason why the Black Knights climbed two spots in the league standings a year ago to finish sixth overall.
Atlantic Hockey is one of six Division I men's ice hockey leagues in the nation. Nine former institutions from the MAAC Hockey League make up Atlantic Hockey's charter membership in its inaugural season - AIC, Army, Bentley, Canisius, UConn, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart.
- more - ATLANTIC HOCKEY PRESEASON POLL (2-2-2-2-2)
Atlantic Hockey Preseason Poll (first place votes) 1. Mercyhurst (8) 80 Points 2. Quinnipiac (1) 67 3. Holy Cross 60 4. Sacred Heart 47 5. Canisius 41 6. Army 40 7. Bentley 33 8. Connecticut 23 9. American International 14
Preseason Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year: F Matt Craig (Quinnipiac)
Preseason Atlantic Hockey Goalie of the Year: G Brad Roberts (Army)
Preseason All-Atlantic Hockey First Team: F Matt Craig (Quinnipiac) F Greg Kealey (Holy Cross) F David Wrigley (Mercyhurst) D R.J Irving (Holy Cross) D T.J. Kemp (Mercyhurst) G Brad Roberts (Army)
Preseason All-Atlantic Hockey Second Team: F Chris Casey (Army) F Guillaume Caron (AIC) F Garrett Larson (Sacred Heart) F Adam Tackaberry (Mercyhurst) D Matt Field (Army) D Eric Nelson (Connecticut) G Jamie Holden (Quinnipiac)