By Kyle Prudhomme
The Fitchburg State men’s hockey team has officially begun a new season at the Wallace Civic Center.
This season will mark Head Coach Dean Fuller’s 32nd with the school and the longtime head coach of the program, only the second head coach in Fitchburg State’s history, is three wins away from an all-time milestone of 500.
“He’s been great for us – the heart and soul of this program. We hope to add a lot more than that,” said senior captain Max Lorenzen, a four-year member of the team.
The Green and Gold were recently ranked in preseason coaches’ polls to finish third in the MASCAC, but the ranking doesn’t sit well with some members of the team.
“Ranking us third is putting a chip on our shoulder and that’s exactly where we want it,” said junior captain Cam Snyder, who emerged as the team’s leading scorer from a season ago.
For most teams a No. 3 ranking may come with feelings of content, but the Fitchburg State hockey team has clear intentions of finishing in the top two despite graduating a number of key seniors from last season’s playoff team.
Coach Fuller has accounted for those losses and brought in a new crop of 10 freshmen to fill the skates left behind by Falcons such as Craig Halpin, Ryan Wysocki and Kevin Holmes.
“We have four freshmen defenders that can play. A couple of our new forwards have looked good, DiNicola and Frentz. It’s been pretty promising,” said Coach Fuller on the new recruiting class of Falcons.
Through the first two victories, newcomers have stepped up in a huge way for the Green and Gold. Forwards DiNicola and Fretz have led their classmates with a combined seven points on five goals and two assists. Coach Fuller has also seen quality ice time from a strong quartet of first-year Falcons: Joshua Victor, Richard Kramer, Alex Joseclyn, and Connor McPherson.
“Hockey is a different game,” senior captain Lorenzen said. “You come in as a 21-year-old freshman, but they [coaches] have brought in some good hockey players that have meshed well with what we’re trying to do. Couldn’t be happier with the start they’ve had.”
With the amount of 21-year-old freshmen playing solid minutes, it’s easy to overlook returning skaters that stack this season’s roster. The team is deep at every position. It’s a problem that any head coach would love to have.
At the forward position, 14 members of last year’s squad have returned being led by seniors Max Lorenzen, Nat Rojas, Paul Falanga, John Celli, and Ryan Connolly to name a few.
Senior captain Mike Morrison is the backbone of the Falcons’ defense which consists of Dan Robertson, Jordan Furlane, Evan Byrnes, and four promising freshmen in front of net.
The goalie position is the biggest question mark going forth for Coach Fuller. After graduating two seniors last season, the Falcons will likely platoon at the position until a No. 1 emerges and takes over between the pipes.
“The beauty of graduating two seniors is you can attract younger goaltenders because they know there is an opening,” said Coach Fuller. “We have three good freshman options accompanying senior McMahon, who is coming off an injury last season. I’ve started three different goalies and they’ve all been solid. I’m hoping a bona fide No. 1 can step up.”
The Falcons have already started their season on the right note. After dropping the season opener against Southern Maine by a final score of 5 -2, the squad bounced back winning consecutive games and putting up a total of 10 goals in those two victories. But after winning just two games last year during the first month of the season, this year’s team has a simple philosophy to staying hot all season.
“It comes down to playing a full 60 minutes, Snyder said. “We preach it every game – you can’t take a shift off, a period off, you gotta play the whole 60 and if we do that then everyone will understand what we got here.”
The Falcons take the ice and open up their conference schedule this Saturday, Nov. 7, traveling to Framingham State in the first away game for Fitchburg State this season.
Stream the game live at: http://fitchburgfalcons.com/sports/mice/2015-16/boxscores/20151107_d93x.xml