Turk Hat Trick Powers Vermont to 6-2 Win Over Northeastern

October 11th, 2014


BOSTON- After Northeastern lost 3-2 to Acadia last Sunday in their annual exhibition game, head coach Jim Madigan said he was expecting a quick Vermont team to show up to Matthews Arena for both teams season openers Saturday night.

Madigan, who was suspended for comments made after last year’s game three loss to New Hampshire in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, watched from the rafters as Vermont (1-0-0) did just that, using their speed to dismantle the Huskies (0-1-0) 6-2 in front of 3,298 fans.

“Extremely disappointed,” said assistant coach Jerry Keefe who manned the bench for Northeastern in Madigan’s absence. “I didn’t see this coming to be honest with you. I thought we were going to come out with a lot of energy.”

Unfortunately for the Huskies, that is exactly what Vermont did, taking a 1-0 lead 16:33 into the first period on a Mike Paliotta goal from the blue line that sailed over the outstretched glove of Huskies goalie Clay Witt.

“Going into the second period I thought, alright we’ll find our way a little bit,” said Keefe.

The Huskies were never able to find their way, as Vermont scored four second period goals, exposing the Northeastern defense and beating the usually solid Huskies net minder.

Sophomore Mario Puskarich started the second period onslaught 9:16 into the period when he took a shot from the right point that Witt had no chance on, giving the Catamounts a 2-0 lead. Just over two minutes later Jonathan Turk got on the scoreboard on a power play goal that came about after Huskies defenseman Jarrett Fennell took a seemingly unnecessary tripping penalty a minute prior.

That would not be the last Northeastern heard from Turk, as he netted another goal at the 18:08 mark in the second, when he cleaned up a Mario Puskarich rebound to give Vermont a 3-0 lead.

The Catamounts finished their third period beat down with just 35 seconds left in the period when senior Jake Fallon took a puck laying on the door step and roofed it into the net to give his team a commanding lead heading into the third.

“The second period I felt like we exectured our game and sometimes you get a little puck luck,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “I think that’s what happened tonight.”

Northeastern would not die just yet though, as Mike Szmatula scored 3:33 into the third period after Huskies junior Kevin Roy dished the puck from the behind of net to the stick of Szmatula who muscled it between two Vermont defenders and behind goalie Brody Hoffman to cut the deficit to four.

Less than two minutes later Huskies captain Dax Lauwers scored when a Mike McMurtry shot produced a juicy rebound that Lauwers poked away at until it found the back of the net.

“I thought our team battled more in the third,” Keefe said, “There was no quit on our team, so I’ll give them credit for that.”

Vermont ended any hopes for a Northeastern comeback on this day though when Turk scored his third goal of the game on a cross ice pass from Alexx Privitera that beat Derick Roy, who took over for Witt in the third period.

“Give our guys a lot of credit,” Sneddon said, “I thought we had excellent defensive sticks tonight. And not just influencing their shots but they had some good entry plays and our back pressure was pretty good.”

“When you’re talking about guys like Kevin Roy, Szmatula, really all four of their lines had dangerous players on it,” Sneddon added. “I thought we were consistent with executing that game plan tonight.”

Keefe felt a lack of effort from the Huskies in the first two periods was to blame for the loss.

“I can look at our lineup right now and say there was only maybe a few guys that looked like they showed up and wanted to make a difference tonight,” Keefe said. “They’re a good team no doubt, they looked faster, they looked stronger, they looked grittier.”

“The most disappointing thing for me, was I thought we were a soft team tonight, and we’re not built that way,” Keefe added.

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Acadia downs Northeastern in Exhibition

October 5th, 2014


Despite goals from Zach Aston-Reese and Kevin Roy, the #16 Northeastern Huskies started off the season on a sour note loosing to the Acadia Axemen 3-2 in the team’s only preseason game.

Northeastern scored the only goal of the first period on a Zach Aston-Reese penalty shot at 10:05 in the period. Aston-Reese, who had a breakaway was brought down by Stephen Woodworth from behind to earn the penalty shot. He beat Acadia goalie Brandon Glover 5-hole to give the Huskies the lead.

“I kind of wanted Kevin [Roy] to take it,” Aston-Reese joked. “I saw his legs open up so I just wanted to get it out as quick as possible.”

Acadia would come out with all the offensive momentum in the second period. Liam Heelis beat Huskies goalie Clay Witt over the left shoulder to tie the game at one 6:04 into the period. Witt would leave the game 5 minutes later finishing the evening with 9 saves on 10 shots.

The Axemen would take the lead with just 53 seconds remaining in the period when Boston Leier redirected a Matthew Pufahl shot by the glove of Derick Roy. The teams combined for 17 penalty minutes in the second frame.

Junior Kevin Roy would score the equalizer 8:19 into the third period on a power play goal assisted by Colton Saucerman and newcomer Garret Cockerill. Roy cleaned up a deflected Saucerman pass and shot it right over the glove of Brandon Glover for the score.

Unfortunately for the Huskies just 1:31 later the Axeman would take the lead for good when Alex Beaton beat Derick Roy blocker side to take the 3-2 lead. Despite a couple of power plays late in the game and an open net opportunity for Kevin Roy, which landed just wide, the Huskies could not find the back of the net and went home with a loss.

Derick Roy ended the day saving 13 of the 15 shots he faced after taking over for Witt. The Huskies were tacked with 19 penalty minutes on the afternoon.

“It was a fresh start, I just wanted to prove to everyone I was here to play as hard as I can,” said sophomore transfer Brendan Collier after his first action as a Husky. “I’m five minutes down the road from my old school [Boston University], and I’m five minutes still from my house. I’ve played in this building when I was in middle school, elementary school….I love playing here.”

Despite the loss Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan was happy with the focus his team showed Sunday afternoon.

“I was pleased with the effort, you can never sacrifice effort,” Madigan said. “I thought we got a little bit to loopy at times. We have a little more skill this year.”

The Huskies will begin the regular season Saturday night against Vermont, a game Madigan perceives as a big test early on for Northeastern.

“We know on Saturday with Vermont the way they play it’s up tempo, it’s fast paced, the tempo will be a lot faster,” Madigan said.

That game can be heard on WRBB with pregame beginning at 6:45 from Matthews Arena.

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Hockey East Preview- Northeastern University Huskies

September 29th, 2014


Head Coach – Jim Madigan (4th Season)

Last Season – 19-14-4 (HE: 10-8-2) Lost in Hockey East Quarterfinals

Losses: F Braden Pimm, F Zak Stone, F Ryan Belonger, F Cody Ferriero, F Nathan Ferriero, D Josh Manson, G Bryan Mountain

Newcomers: F Dylan Sikura, F Nolan Stevens, F Ryan Rosenthal, F Brendan Collier  D Trevor Owens, D Garret Cockerill, G Jake Theut

Despite winning an impressive, 10 more games last year, as opposed to their forgettable 2012-2013 campaign, it was another trophyless season on Huntington Avenue for the Huskies. Despite the lack of hardware, the Huskies received out-of-this-world play from now senior goaltender Clay Witt, and had a freshman class that proved to be one of, if not the best in the country.

The Huskies had one of their most offensively potent seasons in recent memory throughout the 2013-2014 run.  Northeastern finished second in Hockey East with 3.16 goals per game (2.60 goals/game in conference games only) behind breakout seasons from senior Braden Pimm (20 goals), freshman Mike Szmatula (15 goals) along with another impressive season by sophomore Hobey Baker candidate Kevin Roy (19 goals). Szmatula’s freshman classmates Dalen Hedges, John Stevens and Zach Aston-Reese were also solid contributors lighting the lamp 8, 7 and 8 times respectively in their first seasons as Huskies. Coach Madigan will be looking for these guys, along with freshman Dylan Sikura and sophomore tranfers Brendan Collier and Ryan Rosenthal to carry the load this upcoming season.

Returning in net this season will be none other than Clay Witt. Witt, who was a four time Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week winner, a Hockey East Second Team All-Star and a Hobey Baker Award Candidate finished his first full season with a 17-12-3 record, a 2.37 goals against average and a .932 save percentage, which was good for third in the nation.  The Huskies left Witt out to dry quite frequently last season, forcing him to make upwards of double the saves Northeastern was putting on the opposing goalie if they wanted a chance to stay in games. That is going to have to change this season, as the Huskies need to try and rely on consistent offensive and defensive play instead of relying just on their goalie to keep them in games.

Last year the Huskies Achilles heel was untimely penalties. Northeastern ranked first in the conference, taking just under 14 penalty minutes a game, a stat that cost them many games down the stretch run. If the Huskies can straighten their discipline out this season, Northeastern will figure to be a team who can win, or at least compete, for a trophy or two at the Garden this season.

Bottom line: Northeastern should be expected to be a top five team again this season. Although one can not expect Witt to put up the same numbers he did last season, another solid season between the pipes should be coming from the senior. Goal scoring should not be an issue for the Huskies this season. Except for the loss of Pimm (by no means a small loss), Northeastern returns the core of their offense with a year of experience under their belt. The loss of Josh Manson hurts the team defensively, but expect to see Matt Benning, Colton Saucerman, Dan Lauwers and Dustin Darou all step up and play big minutes between the lines, in what should be an exciting year of hockey at Mathews Arena.

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Hockey East Preview- Merrimack College Warriors

September 22nd, 2014


Head Coach- Mark Dennehy (10th Season)

Last Season-8-22-3 (HE: 3-15-2)

Losses: F Rhett Bly, F Connor Toomey, F Mike Collins, D Brendan Ellis, D Jordan Heywood, D Thomas McCarthy, G Sam Marotta

Newcomers: F Jace Henning, F Teddy McCarran, F Brett Seney, F Mathieu Tibbet, F Alfred Larsson D Jared Kolquist, D Aaron Titcomb, D Marc Biega, D Braxton Bilous, G Collin Delia

The Warriors took a major step back last season finishing under .500 in the conference for the first time since the 2008-2009 season.

Last place Merrimack did not do anything well last year finishing at or near the bottom of the conference in every major category. They were last in scoring offense and defense and had the worst special teams in the conference.

Dennehy’s last place scoring offense (1.6 g/gm) is going to take another hit this season with the loss of leading point scorer Mike Collins, who had a hand in 40% of the Warriors goals last season. Junior Brian Christie and senior Quinn Gould who were responsible for 14 points apiece will both need to step up in a big way to dig this offense out of the cellar.

The blue line is not looking much more promising for the Warriors. The losses of key facilitators Brendan Ellis and Jordan Heywood leave gaping holes in the back where they were already weak, allowing 3.3 g/gm. The one bright spot for Dennehy’s club among defenseman is the return of Justin Mansfield who, in his junior season last year, played in all 33 games and was one of only two Warriors to post in the positive for plus/minus. If Mansfield can stay out the penalty box, a place he knew well last year, racking up 36 penalty minutes.  Besides Mansfield, senior Dan Kolomotis and sophomore Jonathan Lashyn will need to step up after being two of the best defenseman for Merrimack last season but average compared to the rest of the conference.

Senior Rasmus Tirronen will handle the goaltending duties for the Warriors again after an unspectacular 2013- 2014 campaign. Tirronen’s .895 save percentage and .267 win percentage were good for last in conference among qualifying goalies. With no real competition for the job, it looks like Dennehy does not have much choice but to start his senior and hope he plays better than last season.

Bottom line: Don’t expect too much improvement from Merrimack this season. While they are unlikely to be as bad road as they were last year posting only one win, they did not gain much and they lost the bulk of their offense. Don’t be surprised when the Warrior’s are bottom feeders yet again this season in Hockey East.

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Hockey East Preview- Boston University Terriers

September 21st, 2014


Head Coach – David Quinn (2nd season)

Last Season – 10-21-4 (HE: 5-12-3) 9th place

Losses – D Patrick MacGregor, D Garret Noonan, F Jake Moscatel, F/D Matt Ronan, D J.D Carrabino, F Brendan Collier, G Anthony Moccia

Newcomers- F Brandon Fortunato, F Jake Eichel, F Chase Phelps, F Nikolas Olsson, F A.J. Greer,F J.J. Piccinich D John MacLeod, D Brien Diffley, D Brandon Hickey, G Connor LaCouvee

With a new face behind the bench for the first time in 40 years, the Terriers took a major step backwards.

Coach David Quinn inherited a young team from his mentor and long time BU fixture  Jack Parker and they didn’t have the kind of season you would expect from a storied program like BU. They finished 9th in the conference and couldn’t keep the puck out of their own net, finishing tied for last in the conference in scoring defense. Their offense was a little better but not by much, finishing tied for 8th in the conference in scoring offense. Worst of all for the Boston based school; they didn’t even get out of the semifinals of the Beanpot, losing to Boston College 3-1.

The offense looks primed for a bounce back season, however, returning their top three point scorers from a year ago, including Robbie Baillargeon, the team’s breakout freshman superstar last season who lead the Terriers in points and finished tied for 19th in the conference in that category. In addition to Baillargeon and the other top point getters, seniors D Ahti Ohksanan and F Danny O’Reagan, BU returns five forwards who were freshmen last season. The young forwards now have college hockey experience and year of playing together. Despite their lackluster performance last year, the Terriers look ready to put the puck in the back of the net at a much higher clip than their paltry 2.15 g/gm last season.

Along the blue line, the Terriers best two way player Ohksanan returns for his senior season, looking to lead a defense that put up little resistance last season. Loosing D Garret Noonan and Patrick MaCgregor won’t help the cause seeing as both played in every game last season and lead the team in blocks with 71 and 61. The three rising sophomores, Doyle Somerby, Dalton MacAffe, and T.J Ryan, will need to step up this season will need to step up after subpar freshman campaigns where each logged over 24 games but none made a major impact.

Two juniors will duke it out over who gets most of the goaltending duties with Matt O’Connor playing in more games last year but Sean Maguire playing better. Neither were spectacular but the slight edge goes to Maguire whose save percentage was 22 percentage points better at .938 than O’Connor’s.

Bottom Line- Don’t expect BU to be as bad as they were last year. They is too much history in the program to keep them down for long. The offense will be much this season will the development of young players including Baillargeon and the return of veterans Ohksanan and O’Reagan. If the defense and goalie tandem of O’Connor and Maguire can keep anything out of the net, look for BU to get back to the middle of the conference this season with eyes on the top tier in the next few years.

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Hockey East Preview- University of Massachusetts Minutemen

September 18th, 2014


Losses: F Peter DeAngelo, F Branden Gracel, G Mac Haight, D Joel Hanley, F Patrick Kiley, F Michael Pereira, F Adam Phillips, D Anthony Raiola, D Colin Shea, F Conor Sheary, F Brandon Wahlin
Newcomers: F Kevin Burchett, G Henry Dill, D Jake Horton, F Dennis Kravchenko, F Patrick Lee, F Riley McDougall, D Maddison Smiley, F Dominic Trento, F Anthony Petrell
Rough would probably be an understatement when it comes to describing last season for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. A year after earning 12 wins in his first year as head coach, John Micheletto and the Minutemen regressed to 8-22-4 (4-13-3 in Hockey East) and finished tenth in the 11-team conference. He will now be tasked with keeping the team competitive and out of the Hockey East cellar.
Complicating this task is the departure of the three top scorers from last years’ team. Over 33 percent of the Minutemen’s offensive firepower was provided by Conor Sheary, Michael Pereira and Branden Gracel, who have now graduated. Redshirt senior Troy Power now steps up as a returning captain and the veteran scorer up front, and will look to improve on his balanced junior season that included 10 goals and seven assists. Joining him up top will be sophomores Steven Iacobellis and Ray Pigozzi, who will try and show that their strong freshmen seasons were no fluke. The two combined for 39 points last season, with Iacobellis tying for second on the team in goals with 11 and earning team Rookie of the Year honors.
Micheletto will also look for his incoming freshmen to make an impact on the attack this season. Kevin Burchett, Dennis Kravchenko, Patrick Lee, Dominic Trento and Anthony Petrella will look to have the same type of seasons as Iacobellis and Pigozzi enjoyed during their freshmen years. More of interest, however, is newcomer Riley McDougall, who finished off last season as the leading scorer on the Calgary Mustangs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League with 30 goals and 31 assists. His pace and hockey sense will help the Minutemen keep opposing defenders on the edge.
On defense, Massachusetts will try to replace graduated seniors Colin Shea and Joel Hanley, both of whom played in all 34 games last season. Beyond their leadership and defensive prowess, the two also finished second and third respectively on the team in assists last season. The team will return junior Ben Gallacher, who instantly becomes the de facto leader in the back. Seniors Mike Busillo and Oleg Yevenko will look to step in and take a larger role than they had last year. Micheletto will also need to get some disciplined play from his youngsters, as sophomore Mark Hetnik, sophomore Brennan Baxandall, freshman Jake Horton and freshman Maddison Smiley will all get opportunities to contribute.
Incumbent starter in net Steve Mastalerz returns for his senior season and will try to best the career high goals against average of 2.77 and save percentage of .907 that he set during his first season as the full-time starter last year. Behind him, the Minutemen have planned for their future, with sophomore Alex Wakaluk and freshman Henry Dill waiting in the wings should help be needed.
Bottom Line: Micheletto is confident that the Minutemen are heading in the right direction. While they may manage to best their four conference wins of last year, it is hard to envision Massachusetts finishing anywhere better than ninth in a competitive Hockey East this season.

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Hockey East Preview- University of Vermont Catamounts

September 15th, 2014


Vermont Catamounts

Head Coach – Kevin Sneddon (12th Season)

Last Season – 20-15-3 (HE: 10-10-0) 7th place, lost in first round of NCAA tournament

Losses: F Chris McCarthy, F H.T. Lenz, F Anthony DeCenzo, F Pete Massar, F Matt White, F Connor Brickley, F Kyle Mountain, D Nick Bruneteau.

Newcomers: F Travis Blanleil , F Rob Darrar, D Mitch Ferguson, F Kevin Irwin, F Anthony Petruzzelli, D Trey Phillips, D Alexx Privitera,F Jarrid Privitera.

Last year, Vermont continued their rebuild, cementing themselves as a middle of the pack team at 10-10-0 in the Hockey East, a far cry from the 3-23-1 mark they posted in the conference just two seasons prior.

Coach Sneddon’s squad will look to continue their improvement this year despite the loss of seven senior forwards including their leading point scorer from a year ago (7th in Hockey East), Chris McCarthy, who graduated out of the program and signed with the Rangers organization.

With a below average offense last year, ranking 8th in the conference with 2.76 g/gm, those losses could be critical if the young guys don’t step up.

The Catamounts incoming class includes five new forwards but the player Vermont will need to rely on the most offensively will be sophomore forward Mario Puskarich. Puskarich enjoyed a breakout freshman campaign ranking 5th in the Hockey East in goals scored with 19 and racking up 36 points, good for 13th in the conference.

Defensively the Catamounts solid last year, ranking 4th in scoring defense. Despite the loss of Nick Bruneteau, Vermont’s blue liners should be solid yet again with another year of experience under the belt of what was a young squad last year.

In net the Catamounts don’t have a standout performer but they do have two solid young goalies that split time evenly last season. Both junior Brady Hoffman and sophomore Mike Santaguida return in net for Vermont and neither outplayed the other last season to solidify themselves as the frontrunner for this year. It will be interesting to watch who gets the majority of time in goal this season or if Coach Sneddon will elect to give them each equal ice time as he did last year.

For Sneddon’s squad to have success this upcoming season Puskarich is likely going to have to improve on his already impressive freshman season and hope that the void left by McCarthy’s offensively can be filled from either a breakout performer or a solid team effort. Defensively, look for the Catamounts to be even better this year, with their youth in the back finally coming of age.

Bottom line: Expect Vermont to be a little better than last year, and contend for another NCAA tournament berth.  The offense is likely to take a tiny step back while they will continue to play above average defense.  The Catamounts are likely two seasons away from cracking the top tier of teams in the tough Hockey East.

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Hockey East Preview- University of Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks

September 13th, 2014


Head Coach – Norm Bazin (4th Season)

Last Season – 26-11-4 (HE: 11-6-3) Won Hockey East Championship, Lost NCAA Northeast Regional Semifinals

Losses – F Shayne Thompson, F Josh Holmstrom, F Joseph Pendenza, F Derek Arnold, D Joe Houk, D Daniel Furlong, G Doug Carr, G Connor Hellebuyck

Newcomers- F Dylan Hollman,F Gage Hough, F Michael Louria F C.J. Smith, F Jake Kamrass, F Ryan Collins, F John Edwardh D Tommy Panico, D Chris Forney, D Tyler Mueller D Lucas Kohls, G Jeff Smith

For the second straight year the Umass- Lowell Riverhawks name will be hanging in the rafters of the TD Garden. After winning their second consecutive Hockey East Championship, and winning a game in the NCAA Tournament, all was well in Lowell until coach Norm Bazin got the message his star goalie Connor Hellebuyck would be leaving to pursue his professional career.

Along with the losses of Derek Arnold and Joseph Pendenza, this Lowell team is going to need a lot of players to step up if they want to even come close to replicating the success the program has had over the past two seasons.

After also loosing backup goalie Doug Carr to graudation, Lowell will turn to Umass-Amherst transfer Kevin Boyle between the pipes in 2014-2015. Boyle spent 2011-2013 in Amherst posting a 16-17-6 record, with .896 save percentage and a 2.86 goals against average.

Adam Chapie and Evan Campbell will be asked to step up in lieu of the departures of Pendenza and Arnold, for a Lowell team who finished 7th in Hockey East last year, scoring 2.83 goals per game.  Despite the mediocrity on the offensive end, Lowell was able to be so successful the past few seasons because of their defense and Hellebuyck, who as a unit allowed a league low 1.88 goals per game last season.

Bottom Line- It was a good run for the Riverhawks who took the conference by surprise the past two seasons. Expect Lowell to finish in the bottom half of the league this season as they try to recover from a couple huge losses in the off season. The Riverhawks have as good a coach as anyone to lead them through this rebuild in Norm Bazin, who in his three seasons so far at Lowell has shown he’s one of the best in the country.

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Hockey East Preview- Notre Dame Fighting Irish

September 11th, 2014


Losses: D Jared Beers, F Jeff Costello, F David Gerths, D Stephen Johns, D Kevin Lind, G Joe Rogers, F Bryan Rust, G Steven Summerhays, D Shayne Taker, F T.J. Tynan, F Mike Voran

Newcomers: D Nathan Billitier, F Anders Bjork, F Bo Brauer, D Tony Bretzman, F Dawson Cook, F Jake Evans, D Jordan Gross, F Connor Hurley, G Cal Petersen, D Luke Ripley

One year after shocking the experts and eliminating powerhouse Boston College in the Hockey East Tournament Quarterfinals, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish find themselves in the middle of a changing of the guard. Gone are some of the staples of last year’s team, and it will be up to head coach Jeff Jackson to find the right lineups that can replace the production of the previous senior class.

Perhaps most crucial will be how the team can replace the scoring of T.J. Tynan, Bryan Rust, Jeff Costello, Stephen Johns and Shayne Taker. The seniors finished last season as five of the top eight scorers on the team, leaving a potential void this year. Jackson will rely heavily on sophomore center Vince Hinostroza, who was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team last season after amassing 32 points, including 24 assists. Hinostroza’s extremely promising freshman campaign has left Jackson confident that he can be a playmaker and facilitator in the clutch.

Hinostroza will share the scoring load with junior captain Steven Fogarty and alternate captains senior Peter Schneider and junior Sam Herr. Fogarty and Schneider combined for just 27 points total last year, but should have more opportunities as they embrace leadership positions for the club. Herr will look to continue his success after a breakout sophomore year that saw him finish third on the team in goals with 14. Junor Mario Lucia will also try to recapture his goal scoring of the previous year, which saw him score 16 goals to go along with 15 assists.

Additionally, Notre Dame’s strong incoming freshman class has the potential to make an immediate impact on the score sheet, as well. Boston Bruins draft pick Anders Bjork can make a splash in South Bend, and his father, Kirk, was an All-American at Notre Dame in 1982. Look for forward Connor Hurley to also have a big impact as a freshman.

The Fighting Irish will also suffer the loss of standout goalie Steven Summerhays, who led Hockey East last year in wins (21), minutes played (2234) and shutouts (7), and also was second in goals against average with 2.04. The Irish may look to sophomore Chad Katunar to provide the saves, but they will most likely use freshman standout Cal Petersen in goal. Petersen, who waited to come to South Bend until incumbent Summerhays graduated, was awarded the Dave Peterson Goalie of the Year Award presented to the top U.S. goaltender each year.

With so much riding on how well young pieces can replace the impact of graduated seniors, the Fighting Irish may get off to a bit of a slow start in the competitive Hockey East. However, if Hinostroza, Herr and Lucia can click up front and Petersen is as good as advertised, Notre Dame may compete for a postseason spot.

Bottom Line: While the changes in personnel mean that Notre Dame may not be a huge threat to win the entire conference, they could prove a dangerous opponent once their pieces click. They will likely finish middle of the pack.

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