Hockey Set to Open Season

Hockey Set to Open Season

Nov. 7, 2011

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-In their third season in the league, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's hockey team will aim to challenge for the championship of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference when they begin their 2011-12 season Wednesday evening. The Corsairs will visit Becker at 8:10 p.m. at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, MA.

The Corsairs return 15 players from the team that went 18-7-1 last season and advanced to the semi-finals of the MASCAC Tournament. "We lost four forwards who scored 30 of our 89 goals last year, three defensemen who played in most of our games, and an All-League goaltender in (senior) Collin Tracy (Medford, MA/Medford HS), who started every game," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach John Rolli. "That being said, we believe we have the necessary components to make a statement in the league. We will need to show improvement as the season progresses."

Several returning players lead the forwards. "Up front, we will be led by (senior) captain Mike Owens (South Boston, MA/Boston Jr. Bulldogs), (senior) assistant captain Rob Dudley (Douglas, MA/Middlesex School), and (senior) Todd Bartelson (Pepperell, MA/Valley Jr. Warriors-EJHL)," said Rolli. "We will have 10 veteran forwards on our top four lines, with freshmen Shaun Walters (Plymouth, MI/Rochester Ice Hawks-MNJHL), Cody Gut (Chichester, NH/Boston Jr. Bulldogs-AtJHL) and Steve Laliberte (East Falmouth, MA/Bridgton Academy) filling out the final spots."

Defensively, the Corsairs will team returning veterans with newcomers. "On defense, we return three veterans, including (senior) assistant captain Justin Pye (Medford, MA/Bridgton Academy), (senior) Mike Grzelcyk (Watertown, MA/Winchendon School), and (sophomore) Nate Dupere (Fall River, MA/Hebron Academy)," said Rolli. "Bolstering the defense will be newcomers (junior) Zach Hepler (Sarver, PA. Dixie Beehives-OPJHL), a transfer from Plattsburgh State, (freshmen) Steve Ginand (Milford, MA/Northern Cyclones-AtJHL) and Mike Peacock (Centerville, MA/Bridgton Academy), with (junior) Matt Correia (Acushnet, MA/New Bedford HS) also battling for playing time."

Tracy's replacement is also on hand. "In goal, we have (junior) Ryan Williams (Milton, ON/Huntsville Otters-OPJHL), a transfer who started 21 games in two seasons at Plattsburgh State, along with (sophomore) Ben Vandervies (Hanna, AB/Golden Rockets-KJHL) to fill the void left by Tracy in net."

The Corsairs will have to be on their game to be successful. "We'll need to be a relentless fore-checking team to generate goal scoring opportunities," said Rolli. "We will need to play solid, disciplined defense within our system to be effective this season."

After a two-year probationary period, the MASCAC will join the list of conferences whose champion will automatically qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships. "In our two years in the MASCAC, we have finished fifth, and then rebounded to finish first last year," said Rolli. "Having played in three consecutive NCAA tournaments and with our league having an automatic bid, there is much to shoot for, not only during the regular season, but particularly during our league playoffs. The MASCAC has continued to make noise in NCAA Division III college hockey during its first two seasons of play and will continue to do so this season."