St. Lawrence University's men's hockey team will play its official NCAA openers Friday and Saturday night at Appleton Arena, hosting the University of Maine Black Bears to kick off the 2013-14 season.
The Saints will feature a lineup which includes several returning ECAC stars and a lot of new young talent as they start preparation for ECAC play with a series of non-league weekends. Senior wing Greg Carey is a pre-season all star in voting by both the coaches and the media and is the first returning All America player since 1988 and the first returning Hobey Baker finalist in program history. Carey led the nation in goal scoring and power play goals last year and finished in a tie for third in overall points.
Carey will be joined by senior defenseman Justin Baker, the top returning scorer among ECAC defensemen and senior goaltender Matt Weninger, who started every game a year ago and is also among the top returnees statistically among ECAC players. Other senior Saints who have been regulars for three seasons include captain Kyle Essery, assistant captain Jeremy Wick and defensemen Pat Raley and Riley Austin. Junior returnees include wings Chris Martin, Patrick Doherty, Gunnar Hughes, an assistant captain, and Justin Bruckel while sophomores Alex Hagen, Sean McGovern, Ross McMullen and goaltender Kyle MacDonald will also push for playing time.
An incoming group of 11 rookies will be out to offset the graduation of All America players Kyle Flanagan and George Hughes. Among them are Matt Carey, Greg's younger brother, and sophomore forward Brian Ward, who started his career at Dartmouth, both of whom should be immediate offensive contributors. Other rookie forwards include Woody Hudson, Drew Smolcynski, Alex Dahl and Trevor Hills. A quartet of freshmen defensemen will also join the Saint lineup with Eric Sweetman, Ben Masella, Mike Graham and Gavin Bayreuther joining the three returning seniors and sophomore McMullen in the mix on the blue line. Tyler Parks is the other Saint newcomer and will contend for playing time with Weninger and MacDonald in goal.
Maine makes its first appearance in Appleton Arena since 2003 and the Saints will be out to snap a four-game home skid against the Black Bears. New head coach Dennis "Red" Gendron brings a club which beat Dalhousie 5-1 to Appleton with an eye on avenging a 5-0, 5-1 Saint sweep in Orono last season.
The Saints will follow the Maine series with two games at Ferris State Oct. 18-19 and will return to action at home against Northeastern on Oct. 25-26.