By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2009-2010 Holy Cross men's hockey team returns all but two players who saw ice time a season ago (13-20-5, 10-15-3 Atlantic Hockey), including all six starters and 258 of the 269 points tallied a year ago. The Crusaders also welcome seven freshmen to the program. With all of this coming back and the experience of the five seniors and seven juniors the Crusaders are looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the third time.
"Entering this season there is a sense that we are ready to get back to the top part of the league," said 15th-year head coach Paul Pearl. "We had a lot of positives during the second half of the season and we had a lot of young players mature during the year. We were a far different team towards the end of the season. If we can play offensively and kill penalties like we did during the second part of the season this entire year we can be a very dangerous team."
Pearl views having a really strong defense with depth that limits shots on net as a major key to a successful season. "We need to have depth at defense," said Pearl. "I think we have enough forwards that we are going to be able to score. Defensively I am expecting us to be strong. Two years ago our opponents averaged 32.8 shots against us and last year they averaged 29.8 shots, so we want to continue that trend and get down to 25 shots allowed on us. If we do that we can become a team that can really stop an opponent from scoring."
Among the 258 points, the Crusaders return 102 of the 106 goals and 156 of the 163 assists posted last season. "I think we have enough offense that we are going to be able to score," said Pearl. "Scoring goals at this level is tough but we should be pretty good offensively. With that said our key is to have three or four forwards that really stand out and put up big numbers. We need to have go-to guys. We want to have that line that has three guys with over 40 points each."
Pearl will be looking for the team's special teams to produce better results during the entire season. "Our penalty kill needs to get better and it did during the second part of last season when we had one of the best penalty kill percentages around the nation," said Pearl. "We had a lot of freshmen killing penalties so they got better during the season and we expect to continue to kill penalties as successfully as we did towards the end of the year. The power play needs to get back to basics. It would also be great to be able to have a group of guys that are on the power play and a completely different group that kills penalties."
Holy Cross will be led by two-time captain senior Ryan Driscoll and junior captain Everett Sheen. "Ryan is a huge part of this team as his leadership and his on ice skills are very important to us," said Pearl. "Everett is a very dynamic and flashy player. Both of them are vocal leaders and are extremely well respected by their teammates."
There will be a total of 17 home games at the Hart Center for Holy Cross this season, beginning with an exhibition contest against the Royal Military College on Oct. 4. The home opener will be against Atlantic Hockey opponent American International on Oct. 31. Once again the Crusaders will play a challenging non-conference schedule that will feature home games versus ECACHL members Yale (11/28) and Quinnipiac (12/10). Holy Cross will begin the season against two Hockey East teams with contests at Providence (10/10) and Merrimack (10/16), while the Crusaders will compete at Dartmouth's Ledyard National Bank Classic (1/2-3) as they will play UMass-Lowell and then either Dartmouth or Northeastern.
Here is a look at the 2009-2010 Crusaders by position.
FORWARDS (Returning 13; Lost 2; Newcomers 4)
Holy Cross has an experienced group of upperclassmen at forward along with a group of sophomores that saw a lot of ice time as freshmen. Junior Jordan Cyr, who was last year's leading scorer with 19 goals and 13 assists for 32 points, will be looking to continue that success. His 19 goals were third all-time on the Holy Cross Division I list. "Jordan was a great player for us last season as our leading scorer," said Pearl. "He wins faceoffs when we need him to, he is strong on the wing and he also scores goals."
Senior Brodie Sheahan has the most career goals (30), assists (47) and points (77) of any current Crusader. Last season, he led the team with 19 assists, and was second with 12 goals and 31 points. "We are expecting Brodie to have a big senior season and to be a league all-star," said Pearl.
Sheen, who already has 26 goals and 23 assists for 49 points over his first two seasons, ranked third on the team last year with 25 points as he was tied for third with 11 goals and was second with 14 assists. For the second straight year he participated at an NHL summer development camp as he attended the Washington Capitals' camp this year. "Everett can really skate," said Pearl. "With his skating ability and skills with the puck we expect him to help us on the penalty kill."
Sophomore Jay Silvia had an outstanding freshman season as he was tied for third on the team with 11 goals and was fourth with 21 points. "Jay has a great ability to make plays with the puck," said Pearl. "He can also kill penalties. Jay is pretty unique as he is a tough physical player but is also very skilled with the puck."
Seniors Rob Forshner and Driscoll will be key factors for the offense. They each had 19 points a season ago as Forshner recorded eight goals and 11 assists, while Driscoll had seven goals and 12 assists. Forshner has 18 goals and 36 assists for 54 career points, while Driscoll has played the most career games of any current Crusader with 107 as he has 19 goals and 34 assists for 53 career points "Rob is a great two-way center," said Pearl. "He can play the point on the power play. He can do a lot of things for us. Ryan is a strong faceoff guy for us. We also expect him to have a strong offensive season."
Junior J.P. Martignetti, who attended the Chicago Blackhawks' development camp, is expected to have a big season. Last season he had seven goals and nine assists for 16 points. "J.P. just keeps on getting better," said Pearl. "He shoots the puck really well. We expect him to be a big-time player this year."
Sophomores Luke Miller and Andrew Cox had really solid rookie seasons as Miller scored six goals and had nine assists for 15 points, while Cox posted two goals and tallied seven assists for nine points. "Luke is a really good skater and is also great with the puck," said Pearl. "He had great success during the second half of the season. We are really excited about what he brings to the program. Andrew is as skilled of a player that we have. He has the type of ability to become a real leader on this team and we expect that to happen."
Senior Peter Lorinser, sophomore Gianni Baldassari, junior Jamie Jelinek and sophomore Matt Gordon are all expected to contribute on the ice. "Peter is a tough kid who blocks shots and kills penalties," said Pearl. "If he continues to play as consistent as he has he will get a lot of ice time. Gianni is a really good defensive center. We can depend on him to match up against the other team's best forwards. He kills penalties and blocks shots. Jamie is a physical player that we expect to play a big role on the team. We are very excited to see what Matt can do. He knows where to go to find the puck. He can be a big contributor for us."
Freshman forwards Erik Vos, Kyle Fletcher, Rob Linsmayer and Brandon Nunn will all be looking to contribute right away. "We feel like we have four very skilled freshman forwards," said Pearl. "Erik is a strong power play guy that we expect to score goals. Kyle does a little of everything. He also is a great goal scorer. He had had 49 goals and 49 assists this past season. Rob gets around the ice and is very strong. Brandon does not turn the puck over. He is a really good player."
DEFENSEMEN (Returning 7; Lost 2; Newcomers 2)
The Crusaders return a young but experienced
group of defenders with two juniors and five sophomores, while they
also welcome two freshmen.
Junior Mark Znutas had another solid season last year with four goals and 12 assists for 16 points as he played all but one game. He has played 73 career games with 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points. "Mark was one of the best defenders around the league last year during the second part of the season," said Pearl. "We are really looking forward to see him play this year."
Junior Matt Celin, who also saw time last year as a forward, is expected to bring his strong versatility to the defense. Last season, he played 35 games and had five goals and seven assists for 12 points with the majority of that offense as a forward. "Matt, who helped us out big time last year when we moved him to forward, is a solid puck moving defenseman," said Pearl.
Sophomores Kyle Atkins, Matt Clune, Mike Daly and Matthew Davis all played over 30 games as freshmen gaining key experience right away. Atkins was key on the penalty kill but also had a strong offensive season as he played 37 games and had one goal and 10 assists for 11 points. "Kyle is an offensive defenseman who has the ability to be an offensive force at defense," said Pearl. "He is also a great shot blocker. He is one of the big reasons our penalty kill got so much better during the second part of the season."
Clune played 36 games with two goals and six assists for eight points, while Daly played 35 contests with two goals and five assists for seven points. "Matt does a little bit of everything. He had an excellent freshman season and we are very excited to see him play," said Pearl. "Mike is a tough kid who loves to hit and play physical." Davis, who played 31 games with two assists, is a key force on defense. "Matthew is very dependable," said Pearl. "He makes the right decisions with the puck."
Sophomore Kyle Lind, and freshmen Brendan Baker and Evan Zych will be looking to strengthen the defense and will be expected to contribute. "Kyle is an excellent teammate," said Pearl. "He has the ability and will have the opportunity to contribute on the ice. Brendan was the captain of a very good team as he played with a ton of good players. He is a puck mover who can skate. He is tough and can block shots. Evan is a great defensive player who is strong on the puck. He moves the puck well and is a great shooter. He should be a solid player on the power play."
GOALTENDERS (Returning 2; Lost 1; Newcomers 1)
Pearl says there will be an opportunity for all three goaltenders to earn ice time. Senior Ian Dams, who went 7-7-1 last season is looking to have a strong senior season. He is third all-time on the Holy Cross Division I career saves list with 1,142. "Ian has won some big games for us and we need him to continue to do that," said Pearl.
Junior Adam Roy, who is second on the school's Division I all-time saves chart with 1,345, has already play 50 career games. "Adam is very talented and has great quickness," said Pearl.
Freshman Thomas Tysowsky will be given the opportunity to contribute on the ice. "Thomas is a big athletic goalie with good hands," said Pearl. "He really moves great laterally. He will be given an opportunity to make big saves and we expect him to contribute."