PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men’s ice hockey team begins what it hopes will be another exciting season this weekend with a pair of games against Morrisville State College on home ice at Waterville Valley Arena.
The Panthers and Mustangs will face off Friday at 6:00 p.m., and again Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Morrisville State (N.Y.), a former junior college powerhouse which is in its first season as an NCAA Division III Independent program, has already played seven games, posting a 1-6-0 record.
Plymouth State opens ECAC Northeast Conference play on Monday (Nov. 13) with a visit to Stonehill College (7:10 p.m.) PSU then has two more home games, next Saturday (Nov. 18) against UMass Dartmouth and Tuesday (Nov. 21) vs. Castleton State, both at 6:00 p.m.
PSU will also play two home games this season at Laconia Ice Arena, one in January and one in February.
One of the highlights of the schedule is PSU’s return to the Police Athletic League (PAL) Stovepipe Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend, this year at The Ice Den in Manchester, N.H., hosted by Southern New Hampshire University. The defending champion Panthers will match up with Brockport State in the tourney opener Saturday at 1:00 p.m., with SNHU and Suffolk skating in the second game at 4:00 p.m. The consolation and championship games are Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Plymouth State will be out to make another run at an ECAC Northeast title this year after making it to the semifinals the past two seasons. The conference playoffs begin in late February and a champion is slated to be crowned on Mar. 3, receiving the conference’s automatic bid to the Division III NCAA Tournament.
2006-07 PSU Men’s Ice Hockey Outlook
Led by fourth-year head coach Brett Tryder (right), PSU is seeking to maintain its spot in the upper echelon of the ECAC Northeast Conference. The Panthers finished third out of 12 teams last year, and skated to a home-ice victory in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season. PSU finished with a 16-9-1 overall record, the third-highest win total in school history, and was picked to finish fourth out of 12 in this year’s preseason coaches’ poll.
The Panthers should have plenty of firepower on offense, with four of the top six and six of the top nine scorers returning from last season. The questions mark is at the other end of the ice, where PSU must overcome the loss of four of its top six defensemen as well as Karl Helgesson, the ECAC Northeast Player and Goalie of the Year.
“We have some outstanding experienced players on offense,” says Tryder, “so we should score plenty of goals and spend quite a bit of time in the offensive zone. We will be young in the defensive zone, but I’m confident the new guys will be able to hold their own.”
Leading the group of returnees on offense is seniors Goose LaCroix (Moretown, Vt.) and Jay Londer (Philadelphia, Pa./Fr. Judge) and juniors Topo LaCroix (Moretown, Vt.), Chris Cadieux (Nashua, N.H.) and Deni Bojadzic (Gothenburg, Sweden). Goose was named All-Conference Second Team after scoring 18 goals and 33 points last season, while Topo was third on the team with 11 goals. Londer and Cadieux averaged nearly a point a game and will be threats again this season, while Bojadzic is a former All-Rookie Team selection who can contribute.
Other returning veterans who should add to the offense include seniors Mykul Haun (Alameda, Cal.), Derek Avakian (Edgartown, Mass.) and Nate Gardner (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) and junior Ryan Moreau (Worcester, Mass.) Haun has been moved from a checking line to a scoring line and is looking to put up big numbers, while Avakian and Gardner have improved with experience. Moreau has also shown he can contribute.
Coach Tryder is very excited about his incoming freshmen including high-scoring forward Chris Chambers (Crofton, Md.) and hard-working forwards Ryan Paglinco (West Haven, Conn.) and Petter Adeberg (Bromma, Sweden).
PSU will have a somewhat youthful defensive unit. Junior Bobby Dashner (Hyde Park, Mass.) and sophomore Pat Turcotte (Goffstown, N.H.), an All-Rookie Team selection last season, are returning starters along the Panther blue line. Seniors Steve Milley (Sudbury, Mass.) and Kyle Allen (Shrewsbury, Mass.) are also returning veterans on defense, and will likely be joined by freshmen Gio DiGiacomo (Plaistow, N.H.) and Andy Weigand (Burlington, Vt.)
The goaltending duties will likely be shared during the early season, according to Tryder. There is currently a three-man race between seniors Trevor Cherry (Greenland, N.H.) and Brendan Fahy (Plymouth, Mass.) and freshman Mick Fitzpatrick (Lancaster, N.Y.), which seems to be keeping the goalies at the top of their game.
“With 10 new players the plan for the Panthers is to not miss a beat,” says Tryder. “The goal for the ‘06-‘07 season remains the same; to win the conference.”
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