Oct. 6, 2011
The Gophers open the season tomorrow against Sacred Heart. To preview the Pioneers we went to their radio play-by-play announcer and sports information director Randy Brochu. Brochu scouts Sacred Heart for us, tells Gopher fans who to play attention to on the ice and what the Pioneers have to do to earn a win. For more information about Sacred Heart visit SacredHeartPioneers.com.
GS: Give us a quick scouting report on Sacred Heart.
RB: The Pioneers will be a much different looking team this year than last, particularly on the blue line, with the addition of two transfers and seven freshman. SHU will be looking for both skill and toughness from Jordan Ciccarello, a sophomore defenseman with a hard right-handed shot who sat out last season after transferring from Clarkson, and Will Rayner, a 6-3 defenseman transfer from UMASS-Lowell with a knack for open-ice hits. The Pioneers will look to shore up a man advantage that struggled last year with the help of freshman Jared Eng, a puck-moving power-play specialist defenseman who accumulated 7 goals and 23 assists last year for Coquitlam of the BCHL.
GS: Who is one player Gopher fans should pay attention to?
RB: Matt Gingera, Sr. RW – The Pioneers leading returning scorer begins his senior season with 44 career goals, including 21 last year, and 24 points shy of 100 for his career. He went on a tear to end last season, scoring nine goals in the final six games of the year. Thecollegehockeyblog.com named him one of their 10 Hobey Baker sleepers this summer. His line-mate from last year, Eric Delong, set up most of his goals, tying Gingera for the team lead in points with a line of 9-21-30. (InsideCollegeHockey.com feature on Gingera)
GS: What does Sacred Heart have to do to win?
RB: Play stronger defense. Last year the Pioneers gave up 4.68 goals per game, last in the AHA, even though Steven Legatto made the fourth most saves of any goalie in the conference (968). Two years ago, Sacred Heart used a high-tempo, coast-to-coast transition game to make it all the way to the AHA Championship game. To get back to the style of play, the Pioneer defense has get stingier on the opposition entering their zone, tougher in one-on-one puck battles along the perimeter, and meaner around the net in protecting their goaltender and clearing rebounds.