Williamstown, MA–The brightly colored leaves have begun their annual descent, which means hockey season is right around the corner. The Williams College men's hockey team are preparing for another hard fought season in the competitive NESCAC. Last year the team finished their season with a 14-11-1, 9-9-1 NESCAC record, losing to Trinity in the semifinals of the NESCAC Tournament.
The 2017-2018 NESCAC tourney was the third time the Ephs had made it to the semifinal game in the past six seasons. The two most recent semifinal matchups were hotly contested but eded in losses to Trinity.
Bill Kangas has assumed his previous role as head coach after taking a sabbatical year.
"I'm excited to be back," Kangas said. "We have a good team this year and we are hitting the ground running, polishing our physical, mental, and emotional games."
The Ephs have 19 returning players and will be adding eight first years to the roster.
Senior defensemen Keanu Hilaire has been named this year's sole captain for his previous dedication to the team and natural leadership abilities.
"Keanu has adjusted well to his role as a captain," Kangas said. "He is very welcoming and makes everyone feel included at all times. His leadership is well-respected on the team."
In the goal, the Ephs will return veteran senior Michael Pinios who sports a .915 save rate in the 53 games he has played. Junior Jacob Pelton will also look to step up as a goaltender this year after getting his feet wet in two games last season. The Ephs will add one more goaltender to their lineup in freshman Cosimo Lazzarino (Kleinburg, Ontario).
Supporting Pinios, Pelton, and Lazzarino will be the defensive squad: seniors Connor Meike and Keanu Hilaire will lead juniors Peter Christie and Max Fuld and sophomores Mike Armstrong, Myles Cunningham and Jack McCool. This strong defensive squad will serve as role models to the incoming defensive freshmen: Connor Kucharski (Solon, OH) and Aaron Pinto (Fairfield, CN).
The Ephs graduated some of their top scorers in C.J. Shugart (14) and David Italiano (10). Shugart and Italiano finished their Williams careers with an impressive 101 and 105 goals respectively. Returning to the forward lineup is senior Roberto Cellini who, with seven goals and 16 assists last season, led the team in points. Senior Marcus Mollica (17 points) and sophomores Tyler Scott (13 points) and Nick Van Belle (14 points) also had strong seasons last yearthis trio will be looking to add even more contributions this winter.
"The upperclassmen have done a great job welcoming the first years onto the team and acting as a second set of advisors. They have instilled the Williams culture in them, which is important to creating a strong team dynamic," Kangas said. "Williams academics always poses a hurdle but the leadership on our team has helped the first years adjust to the rigor of their academic schedules."
The first 2018-2019 puck will drop Friday November 16 at 7pm. Their first game will be an away NESCAC game at Bowdoin.
"We are focused on getting better every day," Kangas said." We have good determination and energy on the team. We always say that it's not a sprint, it's a marathon and that speaks to the leaders on our team."