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Devils hope to draw on SUNYAC Tournament experience
FREDONIA, N.Y. -- How do the Blue Devils, who open their the 2007-08 season Friday, replace 610 total career man-games that their six member senior class took with them? Additionally, how do they follow their magical run which culminated with the SUNYAC Championship?
The answer is still dressing in the Blue Devils lockerroom when they face Cortland at 4 p.m. today in the first game of the SUNYAC Challenge at Buffalo State. The Blue Devils also face non-SUNYAC member Manhattanville at 4 p.m. Saturday. Both games will be broadcast by WCVF (88.9 FM) and simulcast by Fredonia Radio Systems.
Head Coach Jeff Meredith feels good about his returning classes and the leadership that they provide. "During last year’s playoffs,” he said, “we got a lot of good leadership from not only our seniors, but from everybody. That experience is something that will make us stronger and more focused this year."
Combine that with the fact that the Devils feel they have a solid crop of incoming players and you can see why expectations are high.
First, the veteran leadership corp will begin with captain Steve Albert. A senior from Port Huron, Mich., Albert was a Second Team All SUNYAC last year. Joining him in the formal leadership roles will be assistant captains Adam Haberman and Neal Sheehan. Sheehan, from Avon Lake, Ohio, was the Devils’ leading scorer last year. Haberman, a senior from Novi, Mich., was instrumental in the playoff run by killing penalties and playing his physical role.
In addition to the captains, look for forward Bryan Goudy (Port Huron, Mich.), a SUNYAC All Tournament team selection, to continue his offensive ways along with last year's third leading goal scorer, Matt McKeown (Niagara Falls, Ont.). Joining them will be junior Rick Boyce (Mississauga, Ont.), and sophomores James Muscatello (Baldwinsville), Andrew Dissanayake (Ajax, Ont.), Jeff Aonso (Toronto, Ont.), and Pat Capella (Syracuse).
On defense, the Devils return a great depth of skill and talent led by Albert and junior Colin Sarfeh (Laguna Niguel, Calif.). The defenders will also count on junior Jeff Sylvester (Windsor, Ont.) along with sophomores Frank Soscia (Richmond Hill, Ont.) and Matt Pfalzer (Getzville).
A year ago, the Blue Devils had four goaltenders vying for the starting nod. In the last 12 months, the position has sorted itself out. Kevin Amborski (Bloomfield), a junior, is coming off the most valuable player award in SUNYAC Tournament. In addition, sophomore Pat Street (Annapolis, Md.) had a 90.8 save percentage and garnered two SUNYAC Goaltender of the Week awards last season. They will both be relied on to shoulder the load and again lead the Blue Devils late into the season.
Meredith is excited about his incoming class of freshmen. There are eight newcomers to the program and all are expected to jump on board and help right away.
While Amborski and Street are holding down the crease, the Devils have added local goaltender Kyle Yelich (Fredonia) to the corps But on defense, there are three newcomers who have mobility, creativity with the puck, and very good hockey sense. Andrew Babiarz (Clarence) played at Nichols School last year. Chris de Bruyn (Calgary, Alb.) played for the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Rounding out the group will be crafty Steve Rizer (Smithtown), a product of the Capital District Selects Junior "A" team last year.
Blue Devil fans will notice one thing about the new Devil forwards right away. Their size.
Bowling Green, Ohio, native Andew Hess stands 6’6”. He played for Walpole in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League. Alex Morton (Cannington, Ont.), at 6’3”, played his junior hockey for Notre Dame, Sask., in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
Ian Evans (Clinton) is the fourth member of the incoming forwards and He had a stellar post graduate year for the National Sports Academy team in Lake Placid.