Men’s Hockey Ready to Bounce Back

By HEATHER BOEHM

The men’s hockey team will be back in action this weekend when they face two of the teams from Maine, Colby and Bowdoin, on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Coming off a three-win season, the Panthers are hungry for a winning year.

This year’s team enters determined to prove that last season was an anomaly for Middlebury’s historically strong hockey program. Their struggles were largely attributable to the numerous injuries that took many starters out of the lineup, which coincided with their typical hyper-competitive Nescac schedule.

“Even though we did not have the season we wanted to, we really grew as a team,” said Ethan Cohen ’19. “The adversity we faced will only make us stronger going into this season. The largest focus of our team is to continue to build for the future, while also getting Middlebury hockey back into the playoffs and back to its winning ways. We know that in a league as competitive as the Nescac that is never easy, but we have a talented, close knit group that has worked hard all year to prepare for the season.”

The team will have a new look this season and will fresh talent to emerge upfront. The Panthers only graduated three players (Greg Conrad ’17, Andrew Neary ’17 and Travis Stephens ’17), but they were all high-scoring starters that contributed to many of the program’s wins during their tenures. Other contributors who are not returning from last year’s squad, due to injuries and personal reasons, include Zach Weier ’18, Matt Doherty ’19, Spencer Cage ’19 and Danny Jacobs ’20.

The team has a promising incoming class with 10 new faces—nine first-years and one sophomore transfer.

Head coach Neil Sinclair reflected positively on his new group and looks forward to starting anew this season.

“We had a young team last year and we will be young again in 2017-18,” said Sinclair, who added that the influx of new personnel has brought “energy and enthusiasm [which] has helped set the tone for the team in pre-season. We will be counting on our veterans to lead the team in the early going while the new faces get used to the Nescac and stiff competition in the PrimeLink tournament. We expect this to be an energetic and entertaining group.”

The team will be led by three captains: Mark McLellan ’18, Vincenzo Gisonti ’18, and Kamil Tkaczuk ’19.

Key offensive players to watch out for this winter are Gisonti ’18, McLellan ’18, Tkaczuk ’19, Trevor Turnbull ’20 and Mitchell Allen ’20.

“[Gisonti] has the ability to impact every game,” Sinclair said of last season’s leading scorer.

Strong defensemen returning include Jimmy McKee ’19, Frank Cosolito ’20 and David Belluche ’18, and Stephen Klein ’18 will be tending the net again for the Panthers.
Puck-drop is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday evening against Colby.

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Men’s Hockey Ready to Bounce Back