Endicott Predicted to Repeat as CCC Men’s Ice Hockey Champions

Endicott Predicted to Repeat as CCC Men’s Ice Hockey Champions

2017-18 CCC Men's Ice Hockey Preseason Poll Video


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – After claiming the inaugural Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men's Ice Hockey Tournament Championship last season, Endicott was picked to repeat the feat in 2017-18.

The Gulls earned 99 points and nine of a possible 10 first place votes in this year's preseason coaches' poll, which was completed last week by the league's 10 men's ice hockey head coaches.

The defending CCC Tournament Champions had a phenomenal year last year in just their second year of varsity competition. They finished with a 24-4-2 overall (14-3-1 CCC) record and went into the CCC Tournament as the top seed. In the Championship game, Cam Bleck (Lake Forrest, Ill.) scored in the final seconds of regulation to earn Endicott the first-ever CCC Men's Ice Hockey Tournament title.

In the NCAA Tournament, the Gulls snatched a 4-3 road victory against Hobart in the First Round and took Trinity to double-overtime before succumbing, 2-1, in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

The University of New England, last year's CCC Tournament runner-up, was picked second in the poll. The Nor'easters, which advanced to the CCC Championship as the No. 5 seed, gathered 85 points in the poll.

Salve Regina, which had an early exit in last year's CCC Tournament as the No. 3 seed, will come into this year slotted in the No. 3 spot. The Seahawks received 78 points and the only remaining first place vote.

Nichols and Curry landed in the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, with the Bison earning 74 points and the Colonels receiving 55.

Wentworth and Johnson and Wales tied for the sixth spot in the poll with 35 points apiece, while Western New England (32 points), Suffolk (30), and Becker (27) rounded out the table.

The puck drops in the first men's ice hockey action on Friday, Oct. 27 with seven teams in non-conference play. The Conference schedule begins the next week on Thursday, Nov. 2. The top eight teams in the 2017-18 regular-season conference standings will qualify for the CCC Tournament, which starts with the quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 17 and concludes with the Conference Championship on Saturday, March 3. The CCC Tournament Champion will earn the conference's automatic qualifier in to the 2018 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship.

Click HERE to view the whole 2017-18 CCC men's ice hockey schedule.

 

2017-18 CCC Men's Ice Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll

  Team Points (First Place Votes)
1. Endicott 99(9)
2. University of New England 85
3. Salve Regina 78 (1)
4. Nichols  74
5. Curry  55
T6. Wentworth  35
T6. Johnson & Wales 35
8. Western New England 32
9. Suffolk 30
10. Becker 27

 

2017-18 CCC Men's Ice Hockey Previews

1. Endicott

With the core of last year's team returning to the fold in 2017-18, the Endicott men's ice hockey team looks poised to make another run at winning the CCC Championship. 

The Gulls, who finished last season ranked No. 6 nationally in both the USCHO.com and D3hockey.com year-end polls, bring back almost their entire squad that ranked tops in the country among the following categories: No. 1 scoring offense (4.83 g/gm), No. 6 scoring defense (1.97 g/gm), No. 1 scoring margin (2.87), No. 3 power play (28.1%, 43/153), No. 12 penalty kill (86.5%, 147/170), No. 2 combined special teams (58.8%, 190/323), and No. 2 team winning percentage (.833, 24-4-2).

 

   Logan Day, EC

2. University of New England

The University of New England and 3rd-year head coach Kevin Swallow have three of the top four scorers back from the 2016-17 group that reached the CCC final as the No. 5 seed in their first season of league play. Starting his junior campaign is Brady Fleurent (Biddeford, Maine), last year's CCC Player of the Year, who led the nation in points/game (18 goals, 35 assists) on the way to an All-America selection. Returning to team-up with Fleurent is sophomore Ryan Bloom (Northville, Mich.), who was a Second Team All-Conference pick and national Rookie of the Year (20 goals, 23 assists). Junior Dylan Bengtson (Coral Springs, Fla.) (10 goals, 20 assists), the top three scoring defensemen (sophomore Dimitris Jones (Seattle, Wash.), junior Tucker Ross (Ashburn, Va.), senior Ian Rodden (Berwick, Maine)) and the top two goaltenders (sophomore Tate Sproxton (Surrey, British Colombia), sophomore Payton Porter (Houlton, Maine)) from a year ago all return, as well.

 


  Brady Fleurent, UNE

3. Salve Regina

Zech Klann becomes the sixth head coach in program history this season, taking over a squad that went 14-8-4 in 2016-17.

The Seahawks return four All-CCC selections; Jack Billings (Oak Lawn, Ill.), Nick Cyr (Mount Laurel, N.J.),  Pat Thompson (Hellertown, Pa.), and Blake Wojtala (Trenton, Mich.).

In his freshman campaign Billings led the Seahawks in scoring, registering seven goals and 22 assists for 29 total points. Billings ranked third in the CCC for assists and fourth in the nation for points per game as a freshman (1.40) during the regular season.

Cyr, as a sophomore defenseman, scored three goals, handed out 12 assists, and was a plus-24 last season. His plus/minus numbers ranked second in the CCC among all players and he ranks fourth in points per game for defenseman during the regular season.

Thompson once again led the Seahawks in goal scoring with 13 goals. He also dished out seven assists. Thompson had the team's only hat trick, a team-high four power play goals, and three game-winning goals.

Wojtala registered 777 saves for a .933 save percentage and a 2.36 goals against average in 25 games. He ranked second in the CCC for saves and save percentage and 12th in the nation for save percentage during the regular season.

 

   Blake Wojtala, SRU


4. Nichols

The Nichols College men's ice hockey program looks to advance to at least the conference semifinals for the seventh-consecutive season in 2017-18. Sophomore and reigning CCC Rookie of the Year J.B. Baker (Columbia, Md.) leads the offense after racking up 40 points as a rookie (16-24-40). Senior captain Scott Cuthrell (Waterford, Mich.) – who posted a career-high 31 points last season - centers the top line while junior Matthew Menta (Lima, Pa.) and his 20 points (7-13-20) are also back. Junior and CCC Third Team pick Ian Spencer (10 points in 2016-17), along with senior and CCC Third Team selection Colin Brennan (12-6-5, .923 save pct.) anchor the defense and crease, respectfully.

 

   Scott Cuthrell, NC

5. Curry

Curry enters the 2017-18 campaign coming off a 14-10-2 overall record, including an 11-5-2 mark the inaugural season of CCC Hockey. They earned a trip to the CCC Tournament as the No. 4 seed, earning a first round home game. This year's squad will turn to their senior captains: Phil Kiss (Burlington, Ontario), Shane Tracy (Bow, N.H.), Ryan Fitzgerald (Cary, N.C.), Jarret Kup (Rousseau, Ontario) and Adam Valadao (Ajax, Ontario) for leadership on and off the ice. Junior defenseman, Mack Heisinger (Winnipeg, Manitoba) will be looked at to continue his progression as a player.  Curry will also look to have positive years offensively from Tracy, Valadao and junior Zach White (Milford, Conn.). Head coach T.J. Manastersky is also excited to see how his freshmen class can adapt and make an impact on the team.

 

   Adam Valadao, CC

T-6. Wentworth

With the loss of just two seniors from last season's team, the Wentworth Institute of Technology ice hockey team looks to make a return trip to the postseason after missing the CCC Tournament a season ago. Despite missing out on the postseason, the youthful Leopards were in numerous close games, as 10 of their losses were by a total of 14 goals, including dropping six games by a single goal. With last season behind them, fourth-year head coach Jay Pecora welcomes back four of his top five scorers including junior Angus Johnston (Calgary, Alta.) who tied senior Jake McDonough (Marshfield, Mass.) for the team lead with 13 points. Johnston had five goals and eight assists while McDonough added a team-high eight goals and five assists for 13 points. Junior Matthew Kennedy (Mount Peal, N.L.) had four goals and eight assists for 12 points. Junior Paul Filippone (Cranston, R.I.) chipped in with 10 points (four goals, six assists) a season ago. All three netminders are expected to return for the Leopards, including sophomore Kenny Graham (Milton, Mass.) who had a 2.89 goals against average and a .905 save percentage.

 
Angus Johnston, WIT

T-6. Johnson & Wales

The Johnson & Wales University men's ice hockey team finished the 2016-17 season on a high note by advancing to the semifinals of the CCC playoffs. With nine seniors gone from that team, this year's squad under second-year head coach James LaCour will have a new identity.

Gone are the Wildcats' top five scorers from last season. Junior Victor Carlsson (Calmar, Sweden) will be called upon to pick up the scoring load as JWU's top returning scorer. Senior Alan Boozer (Detroit, Mich.) and juniors Zachary England (Redbank, N.J.) and Chad Guderian (Coppell, Texas) will also look to increase their scoring as well.

Similar to the offense, the JWU defense will have several players called upon to move up on the line chart. Senior Luke Veitch (Ashburn, Va.) as well as sophomore Kevin McDonald (Ashburn, Va.) and Andrew Cooley (Wasilla, Alaska) will vie for spots on the top defensive line.

For nearly every game over the last four years, Joey Ballmer's name was penciled in as the JWU goalkeeper. Junior Tyler Ellor (Saratoga Spring, N.Y.) picked up a win in his lone start last year against Stonehill. Rookie Mike Rockwell (Poughquag, N.Y.) and Joe Noonan (Cranston, Ri.I.), a transfer from UNE, will battle with Ellor for time in net.

LaCour's first recruiting class will feature 10 new players. Anthony Scarcella (Providence, R.I. was one of the top offensive players for the Boston Bandits. Forward Graham Day (Rochester, Mich.)was captain for the Metro Jets and Jason Recchia (Shelby Township, Mich.) was assistant captain for the team that finished the regular season undefeated.

 

 
Chad Guderian, JWU

8. Western New England

After improving by six wins and returning to postseason play last winter, the Western New England University ice hockey team will look to take another step forward in 2017-18 under ninth-year head coach Greg Heffernan.

Western New England returns its leading point scorer in senior forward Matt Smethurst (Rexford, N.Y.), as well as juniors Matt O'Dea (Orland Park, Ill.), Steve Beck (Milton, N.Y.) and Stefan Koproske (Simsbury, Conn.), who were all significant contributors a season ago.

Senior Matt Audet (Campbell, Calif.) will lead a defensive unit that also features experience returning with juniors Edmund Rogers (Creve Coeur, Mo.) and Connor Graham (Norfolk, Mass.), while junior goaltender Kevin Gollmer (Flourtown, Pa.) will look to establish himself as one of the top netminders in the conference.

The Golden Bears will open the 2017-18 campaign the same way they have for the past eight seasons, with a matchup at local rival Westfield State on Friday, October 27. After a week off, Western New England opens its home slate on Friday, November 3 against CCC opponent Salve Regina at the Olympia Ice Center. The 2017-18 season also features a Thanksgiving weekend tournament at Southern New Hampshire University, and a two-game road trip to eastern Pennsylvania in January.

 

 
Kevin Gollmer, WNE

9. Suffolk

Suffolk looks to bounce back from a down year as it laces up its skates for the second season of CCC hockey.

Chris Glionna returns to the bench for his 14th season as head coach and looks to guide Suffolk back to success after a down year (7-13-5, 4-11-3 CCC). To aid the winningest coach in Suffolk men's hockey history is veteran coaching staff, John Burgess and Greg Fowke.

On the ice, Suffolk welcomes back eight of its top 10 leading scorers from a year ago. Tommy Bishop (Chelmsford, Mass.) headlines the Rams returners with the junior coming off a 17 point season with five markers and 12 assists. Bishop's classmate Connor Parent (Danvers, Mass.) is back in blue and gold after a 10-point outing last season with six scores and four assists. Fellow junior Connor Henry (Trumbull, Conn.) along with Jack Jenkins (Billerica, Mass.) will looks to add a spark to Suffolk's attack.

Suffolk will call upon the experienced netminder junior Michael Levine (Clarendon Hill, Ill.) to be the back bone of the defensive unit. A year ago, Levine defended the between the pipes for the Rams in 16 games, starting 13, for a 3.79 goals against average and save percentage .894. Anchoring the blue line for the blue and gold are senior Shayne Bailey (Quincy, Mass.) and juniors Mikhail Bryan (Dayton, Ohio), Sean Henry (Trumbull, Conn.), and LJ Fellows.

Suffolk lifts the lid on its 2017-18 slate versus Assumption Saturday, Oct. 28. The Rams and Greyhounds will meet for the eighth consecutive season in Suffolk's season opener at 7:30 p.m. at Emmons Horrigan O'Neil Rink in Charlestown.

 

 
Jack Jenkins, SU

10. Becker

Second-year head coach Mike Chartrand returns 20 players from the 2016-2017 rosters.  Junior Brandon Morgan (Rochester, N.Y.) is expected to pace the offense after leading the Hawks with ten goals last season.  Coach Chartrand will also look to Corey Sherman (Hilton, N.Y.), John Dutney (Hudson, Mass.), Corey Schafer (Johnstown, Pa.) and James Wallace (Levittown, Pa.) to put the puck in the net for the Hawks.  Other key returners include defensemen Dylan Durham (Dallas, Texas), Nikolas Nasby (Newberg, Ore.) and Trey McMillen (Grapevine, Texas). Sophomore goalie Grant Martens (Bloomington, Minn.) will look to get the Hawks back to the CCC Playoffs in 2018.

 

  
Corey Schafer, BC

 

Season previews contributed by each school's sports information department.

 

ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE

The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and four associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.

 

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