(Last In A Series)
CLINTON — The Clinton boys ice hockey team returns four of its five top scorers from last season, and will look to step up its offense while protecting the net with two solid goaltenders, according to third-year head coach Jon Davignon.
The team compiled an overall record of 8-11-1, 5-8 in the Division II National conference last season but did not make the playoffs. This year it looks to change that, and will take its first step when it hits the ice for the first regular season contest when it hosts Ithaca at 7:30 tonight.
The team moves on without last year’s leading scorer, John Conway, who graduated. “For the most part we return the core of our team from last year,” noted Davignon.
The Warriors have a clear plan for this season, the coach said.
“We’re a combination. We try to be aggressive in the offensive zone, but we aim to protect our net first. We have solid goaltending. We return four of our five top scorers so I hope that transfers into more this year. We struggled to score goals last year.”
Davignon said the lack of scoring last year was for several reasons, from the team’s inexperience to plenty of solid goalies in the league.
Teammates got together more in the offseason to build chemistry, said Davignon. “So far it looks like that it is happening more this year.”
The forwards have been “scrappy around the net” in practice and scrimmages. “We have solid players though we don’t have a superstar.”
This year’s top line features junior TJ Elsenbeck, senior Dan Burke and senior Mark Novak, all returning players.
On defense, senior Garrett Frank returns to captain the team for his third year. He will be paired with Corbin Melie, who played last year as an eighth grader, but is expected to contribute a great deal this year.
The situation in goal is still fluid, but Davignon said there are two solid options. Brian Saunders, a junior, is back after playing the second half of last season, and will be the starter as this season begins. Josh Trask, who started the first half of last season as a freshman, is another option.
“We’ll see who becomes the starter as the games go,” said the head coach.
The team also includes four other seniors: Jeremy Hearn, Jackson Phillips, Connor Frank and Zane Moaghan.
The roster also includes juniors Nicholas Frank, Connor Hinderling, Brandon Koehler and Michael Cancilla, sophomores Nolan Provost, Killian Kulpa, Antonio Femia, Ethan Carr, Carter Hinderling, Brian Hall, Tyler Karuzas and Brendan Karuzas and freshmen Aiden Walter, Kole Davignon and Josh Doris.
“We’d like to see a winning season, to get a home playoff game,” said Davignon of the team’s goals this season.
“This group of seniors is very motivated, and that can transition into some wins.”