Men's hockey looks for redemption

Ethan Magoc photo: Mercyhurst College freshman Taylor Holstrom hits the ice against Western Michigan University.Ethan Magoc photo: Mercyhurst College freshman Taylor Holstrom hits the ice against Western Michigan University.
The Mercyhurst College men’s hockey team took the ice this year with a bad taste in their mouths.

Last season the Lakers finished with a 15-20-3 record, their second losing season in three years.

They finished off the year losing nine of their final 16 games with one tie, including back-to-back losses to Canisius College in the Atlantic Hockey Association Quarterfinals.

This season, the Lakers are back with high expectations.

To open up the season, they fought for a 4-4 tie to then 4th ranked Michigan.

Getting the tie and some valuable experience was freshman goaltender Jordan Tibbett.

In placeof senior starter Ryan Zapolski, Tibbett had 22 saves while only allowing one goal against the Wolverines.

The 2010 Lakers expect to have Zapolski back in the net, and soon will fight for the top spot in the conference.

The Lakers return four of the top five in points from last year, led by senior captain Brandon Coccimiglio and senior assistant captain Mike Gurtler who had 28 and 30 points respectively.

Also back is senior captain Scott Pitt, who led the team 18 assists last season.

With this strong group of seniors, which also includes starting defenseman and assistant captain Jeff Terminesi, the Lakers look to be an experienced team.

Of the experience level this season, Pitt said, “There is a lot of leadership in the room, pushing the younger guys.”

Sophomore Grant Blakey is fresh off his breakout freshman season when he had 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points, putting him third on the team in total points in his first year.

While there were exceptional players from last season, the season as a whole was injury-plagued. Redshirt sophomore Phil Ginand was lost for the season with a knee injury after only the second game.

Ginand played very well as a freshman, and was expected to play a pivotal role in the offense last season.

He brought intensity and balance to the ice when combined with other scorers.

Senior forward Steve Cameron missed eight games last season after suffering a concussion late in the year.

Coccimiglio sat out seven games from a concussion as well. These two injuries, along with Ginand’s, made the Lakers depth run during the final run of the season.

However, with these injuries it allowed younger players to gain experience and playing time to help contribute even more this season.

Along with Blakey, fellow sophomores Paul Chiasson and Charlie Carkin are looking to be major contributors this year.

“The freshmen last year gained a lot of experience… with injuries and played right away. We are confident going into the year,” Coccimiglio said.

Pitt echoed Coccimiglio by saying there is “a good vibe, and the seniors are really pushing for a championship.”

“We had high expectations before the Michigan game, but these were three tough games against Western Michigan kept us honest,” Pitt said.

The Lakers still have a positive outlook though heading into game against the USA Under 18-National Team Sunday, Oct. 24.

“Goals will come and we will get rolling,” is Pitt’s positive outlook.