by Tim Rosenthal/Staff Writer
Head Coach: Shaun Hannah
2006-07 Record: 21-11-4 (17-7-4 Atlantic Hockey)
Key Returnees: Scott Marchesi D SR., Alexandre Parent F SR., Nick Kary F SR., David Grimson D JR., Bear Trapp F JR., Eric Giosa F JR., Kyle Tyll F JR., Corey Laurysen D SO., Nick Johnson F SO., Dave Jarmen F SO., Matt Gordon F SO.
Key Losses: Pierre-Luc O'Brien, Jason Smith, Peter Ferraro, Drew Sanders, Thomas Spencer, Kalen Wright
In 2005-06 the Sacred Heart Pioneers won 21 games. In 2006-07, the results were the same.
"We had a great year," said head coach Shaun Hannah.
"We finished second, got the top seed in the playoffs, went 3-3 in our non-league schedule. However, I was a little disappointed in the postseason results, but we did come back from three goals down against Air Force in the conference finals and took the lead only to see that squandered in overtime."
Coming into the 2006-07 season, the team had a good veteran presence. With such leaders as Pierre-Luc O'Brien and Jason Smith gone, the Pioneers will this year look for veteran leadership from the junior class.
"We have a small senior class," Hannah said. "The junior class has to step up. But, it is a strong class that provides leadership."
One of the tough tasks will be replacing O'Brien, but there are four players with 10-plus goals from last year returning.
Another tough task will be replacing goaltender Jason Smith, a sixth round draft choice of the New Jersey Devils in 2003. But Hannah has some positive remarks about last year's backup Stefan Drew.
"Stefan Drew has risen to the challenge," Hannah said. "He is ready to be the starter."
Although Smith got most of the action his first two seasons, Drew has seen some time with 14 career games under his belt. Drew is 8-3-2 in his career.
Going into 2007-08, Alexandre Parent, an assistant captain in 2006-07, will serve as the team's captain. Scott Marchesi, who was also an assistant last year, will keep his role, while junior defenseman Dave Grimson will be the other assistant.
"They all have grown over the years," Hannah said about his three captains. "They all provide great leadership."
This year's freshmen class is big in numbers. Eight to be exact. Hannah seemed very pleased about the results.
"I am really excited," said Hannah about the potential of the class of 2011. "It is going to be tough replacing O'Brien and Smith. Some will be asked to step in. Overall we got four forwards, three defensemen, and a goaltender."
This season, the Pioneers will have the same goal, winning the conference and getting into the NCAA's.
"The league will be tough," Hannah said about Atlantic Hockey. "There is a lot of parity. We have to be prepared night in and night out.
"Our goal this year is to challenge for the league regular season and tournament in Atlantic Hockey."