October 11, 2007

Men's Ice Hockey Opens Season Friday at Colgate

Oct. 11, 2007

Setting the Scene... The Pioneer men's ice hockey team opens the 2007-08 season against Colgate as they travel to Hamilton. The game will be Colgate's season opener as well. This is the sixth all-time meeting between Sacred Heart and Colgate, with the Raiders having won every meeting. Colgate has won the four previous meetings at Starr Rink, the last coming during the 2004 season.

2006-07 in Review... Sacred Heart finished the 2006-07 season with a 21-11-4 record and 17-7-4 mark in Atlantic Hockey play. Those were good enough for a second place finish in the standings and a tie for the school record for victories. Pierre-Luc O'Brien set the school record for most games played, goals scored, assists, and points in a career. Jason Smith broke the record for most career victories by a goaltender. O'Brien and Bear Trapp were both nominated for the Hobey Baker Award. The Pioneers season ended with a 5-4 overtime loss to Air Force in the AHA quarterfinals.

Pioneers Picked Fifth... The Sacred Heart men's ice hockey team was picked to finish fifth by the league's coaches in the Atlantic Hockey preseason poll released Wednesday at the league's annual media day. RIT was tabbed as the preseason favorite. Air Force, last year's tournament champion, was the coaches second place choice. Army was chosen third with Mercyhurst following in fourth place and the final first place vote. The final five places are garnered by Holy Cross, Connecticut, Canisius, Bentley and American International.

Scouting the Pioneers... The Pioneers are led by senior captain Alex Parent who has been perhaps SHU's most consistent player for the last several seasons. In each of his three years he has finished third on the team in scoring, and is one of the best assist men on the team. He is well known for his ability to play the point on the power play, serving as the "quarterback" of the squad. The returning firepower along with Parent includes sniper Bear Trapp who has finished second on the team in scoring the last two years. Trapp is poised to break many school records over the second half of his career if he can produce the same numbers he has over his last two years when he has piled up 33 goals and 50 assists. Trapp's outstanding goal scoring prowess earned him a Hobey Baker nomination last year.

With their top scorer gone in Pierre-Luc O'Brien the Pioneers will look to their returning supporting cast to fill some of those giant shoes. Junior Eric Giosa appears poised for a breakout season after playing on the top line for much of the latter part of 2006-07. Sophomore Dave Jarman had a strong rookie season, leading all SHU freshman with 11 goals and 11 assists. The Pioneers also welcome back two-thirds of their top checking line. Senior Nick Kary and junior Kyle Tyll have developed reputations for shutting down some of Atlantic Hockey's top offensive players.

Defense Department... One place the Pioneers have a lot of depth is on defense where five players return and 10 players could potentially patrol the blue line for the red and white. The corps is led by SHU's two assistant captains, senior Scott Marchesi and Dave Grimson.This will be Marchesi's second stint as an assistant captain for the Pioneers, after serving in the same capacity in 2006-07. The senior formed one half of the top defensive pairing for SHU last year, tallying five goals and 13 assists for 18 points on the year. His play earned him first team All-Atlantic Hockey honors.

Between the Pipes... The Pioneers have a huge void to fill in net with the departure of Jason Smith to the New Jersey Devils organization. Junior Stefan Drew will step in and become the top goaltender after two years as a back-up. Drew played well in limited action the last two years, posting an 8-3-2 record with a 2.46 goals against average in 14 games. Freshman Olivier St. Onge arrives from Quebec to become the new backup goaltender.

New Kids on the Block... With so many players lost to graduation, several of the new recruits will have to step-up right away for the Pioneers. The eight-man freshman class includes four forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. Up front, Adam De Jong, Patrick Knowlton, David Berube and Evan Mladenoff all will skate this fall for the Pioneers. The new blue-liners include Reade Wolansky, Ryan Warsofsky and Chris Brown.

Scouting the Raiders... The Red Raiders of Colgate return two of their top three scorers along with their top goaltender from a team that went 15-21-4 in 2006-07 and 7-12-3 in the ECAC. Tyler Burton led the way with 40 points, 18 goals and 22 assists. Jesse Winchester is also back up front after posting a 37 point season last year with 16 goals and assists. Junior Nick St. Pierre is the top returning defensive. Nashville Predators prospect Mark Dekanich returns for his senior seaosn in goal for the Raiders. Dekanich recorded 15 wins last year, posting a 2.33 goals against average and .923 save percentage along the way.

On the air... For the second year, Pioneer hockey game will be broadcast on WICC 600 AM. There will be 13 games carried by the largest station in Southern Connecticut. Jeff Holtz will call the play-by-play with Gene Gumbs and Rick Cohen providing color commentary on selected games. The broadcasts are part of a 50 game package that will be carried by WICC to include selected men's and women's basketball games.The games will also be carried by SacredHeartPioneers.com. In addition their will be and additional seven games carried exclusively on the Internet. In all there will be 21 ice games broadcast as part of a 130 game package of Pioneer contests including football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball games.

Up Next... The Pioneers return to upstate New York to face another ECAC Hockey opponent when they vist RPI next Saturday, October 20th. Game time at Houston Fieldhouse is 7:00 pm.