MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Saint Anselm College men's hockey team kicks off the 2013-14 season this weekend with a pair of games at Babson and UMass Boston. Since mid-October, the team has been preparing for this year's schedule and introducing the new players to the systems and regiments of the team.
Head coach Ed Seney begins his 12th year at the helm of the team and has selected Larry Rocha as his assistant coach for this year's squad. Rocha graduated from Saint Anselm in 1979 and was a member of the men's hockey team from 1975-78. Also helping with the team, in his ninth season, is Michael Martiniello.
Saint Anselm wrapped up last year with a 16-8-3 overall record, including a 9-7-2 mark in the ECAC Men's East. They closed out the season with a pair of victories in the Northeast-10 Championship semifinals and final, rolling to their fourth straight NE-10 Championship title.
The Hawks lost eight seniors to graduation and are welcoming 12 new players onto this year's squad, including 10 freshmen, a transfer and a sophomore. To counteract the youth of the team, Seney has eight seniors, four of who are captains, to lead the team through their dual-league schedule of the challenging ECAC Men's East and the unpredictable Northeast-10.
The team has appointed Greg Crovo (Melrose, Mass.) and Alex Pascal (Blue Bell, Pa.) as captains for this year's team. Joining those two as assistant captains are Greg Merrill (Brighton, Mich.) and Joe Tebano (Glastonbury, Conn.). Each of the captains has been an integral member of the team over their careers and have each logged serious amounts of ice time and have been battle-tested during big games.
"You can count on each of our captains for their effort and work ethic," said Seney. "As long as each of them lead by example, if won't matter who is vocal or who is quiet; they will lead by doing."
Crovo has been the anchor of the Hawks defense and captain for the past two seasons. He ended last year with two goals and six assists for eight points. His experience and leadership on the ice will prove to be the key to success in close games.
Pascal, also a force on the blue line, finished the 2012-13 season with a pair of goals and 10 assists for a total of 12 points. He played in 24 contests and was responsible for one game-winning goal.
Merrill returns for a third season, this time wearing the "A" after having led the defensemen last season with four goals and 13 assists for 17 points. He tallied a game-winning and power-play goal.
Tebano, the team's top-returning scorer, ended 2012-13 with 27 points on nine goals and 18 assists. He scored a pair of short-handed goals along with one game-winning goal.
The Hawks will look to the upperclassmen to fill the holes in offense left from the graduation of Mike Richard, Tim King and Tucker Mullin. With a young team, Saint Anselm will look for scoring across the board, rather than from just a few top scorers, to steer the ship.
Saint Anselm returns six of its 11 top scorers from last season, including Tebano, junior Johnny Daniels (Andover, Mass.) and sophomore Bryan Sullivan (Burlington, Mass.). Daniels missed the start of last season due to injury, but returned to the ice with a vengeance, scoring 16 points over 19 games. He recorded a pair of short-handed goals, a power-play goal and the game-winning goal against Skidmore on Jan. 25.
Sullivan was the highest-scoring rookie of last season, as he racked up 15 points on five goals and 10 assists.
Senior Eric Czapka (Holland, Pa.) finished last season with 12 points (4-8-12) and will look to improve upon last season's numbers.
Juniors Sean Jenkins (Boston, Mass.) and Joey Agliato (Hauppage, N.Y.) also return this season. Jenkins ended with seven points (3-4-7) last year and hopes to make more of an impact in his junior season. Agliato skated in 12 games and recorded three assists.
Senior Kevin Vanous (Virginia Beach, Va.) tallied an assist for Saint Anselm last season, despite playing in only 10 games due to injury.
Saint Anselm welcomes sophomore Mark Meads (Middleton, Mass.), a transfer from Bentley University, who played in five games for the Falcons. Also adding depth to this year's roster will be sophomore John Rogeri (Katy, Texas), as well as freshmen Paul Ramieri (Smithfield, R.I.), Tommy Evangelista (Methuen, Mass.), Nick Leonard (Methuen, Mass.), Brendon Kerrigan (Boston, Mass.), John Doherty (Milton, Mass.) and Vin D'Amato (Sutton, Mass.).
"The freshmen forwards are a diverse group," commented Seney. "We have some who will be good for speed and some for size. A few quick guys who will go to the puck and some power players, whose size will make the difference."
The key factor in close games this season for the Hawks will be the defense. Three out of four senior captains play in the back and will provide invaluable leadership after having played in just about every scenario possible over the past three seasons.
Along with Crovo, Merrill and Pascal, the Hawks return junior Matt Buckley (Canton, Mass.), as well as sophomores Jon Ahern (Melrose, Mass.) and Tyler Estee (Bow, N.H.). Buckley dressed in seven games, while Ahern played in 23 contest and dished out 10 helpers for the Hawks. Estee recorded one assist in his 15 games played.
In building the team from the net out, Seney will look to his pair of senior goaltenders in Nick Dries (Commerce Township, Mich.) and Robert Kang (Glen Rock, N.J.), along with newcomer Brad Rocheville (Saugus, Mass.).
The veterans have proven they can play in the league and Seney is looking for consistency every night from his goaltending.
Dries ended 2012-13 with a 10-2-0 record alongside an .895 save percentage and a 2.38 goals-against average. Kang earned himself a 6-6-3 record with a .902 save percentage and a 2.81 GAA last season.
"If you prepare correctly, the results take care of themselves," mentioned Seney. "We will have to do a lot of the little things well in order to make our mark. This is college hockey, and as we know, if we compete and play as a team, anything can happen."
The Hawks open their 2013-14 campaign as they travel to Babson on Friday, Nov. 8 for a 7 p.m. puck drop. Saint Anselm will open its home slate Nov. 15 as the Hawks play host to Castleton in a 7 p.m. tilt. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by friending us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/STAHawks) and following us on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/STAHawks).