From NYHJ: Pieces in place for Hobart
by Matt Caputo/Correspondent
In last year’s ECAC West championship game, Hobart College routed Neumann 5-0 to claim its second conference championship in program history.
But last season is long over, and there’s a fresh sheet of ice. Through 10 games in the 2012-13 season, the Statesmen were unbeaten at 8-0-2 and head coach Mark Taylor (Canton, N.Y.) sees his skaters striding with a new purpose.
“I just think the mindset of the players has been very determined and focused,” said Taylor, who is in his 13th season behind the bench in Geneva, N.Y. “They wanted to come out and continue on what we were building on from last year and taking care of business right from the get-go.”
Last season, Hobart finished 16-10-1 overall and third in the ECAC West, depending on key contributions from now-departed players but also building on the abilities of current seniors Nick Broadwater and Frank Salituro.
Broadwater, a goaltender, has been a steady force for the Statesmen during his four-year career. He was selected as the ECAC West tournament’s MVP, stopping all 26 shots he faced to shut out Neumann in the championship game. By most accounts, Broadwater has helped the Statesmen get ahead in this new race.
“Expectations are pretty high this year and we know what we have to get done,” said Salituro. “We’ve had great play from our goalie, Nick Broadwater, and that’s helped a lot. He gave us the ability to win games early.”
Hobart topped Salve Regina 10-0 on opening night this season and used the win to launch a three-game win streak and 10-game unbeaten streak to start the season. Through those 10 games, Salituro — who led the Statesmen with 26 points last year — has totaled nine goals, fourth most in Division 3 behind a trio of players, including Mike Arnold of Potsdam, and 17 assists. It’s that kind of early production that has given Hobart a head start in its defense of the ECAC West title.
“Having the majority of the team stay, I think the chemistry is a lot stronger even than last year,” Salituro said. “Even the additions that we have are contributing right away. After the success of last year, we’ve been able to put together a combination of the old and new guys, and it’s going really well for us.”
Freshman Mac Olson was named the ECAC West Rookie of the Week after leading the Statesmen with four points in two wins over Nazareth College. It’s new faces like Olson, second in Division 3 in freshman scoring with 3-8-11 totals, and veteran ones like Salituro, Broadwater (1.15 goals-against average, .948 save percentage) and senior forward Bobby Hannah (6-9-15) that make Hobart the team to beat in its conference.
“Broadwater recently broke our shutout record,” said Taylor. “By breaking Keith Longo’s record, he broke one of Guy Hebert’s (Troy, N.Y.) records, and that gives you an idea of how good those guys are. He brings a level of confidence behind your back. It’s kind of like skydiving. These guys have a level of confidence in him like someone has in a skydiving guide, and he has it in himself.”
While Broadwater is a constant in goal, the Statesmen offense has being retooled. In 2011-12, Greg Ciciola was second on the team in scoring with 24 points as a senior, and his production was a key part of the offense that must be compensated for this season. A goal scorer and Yorktown Heights, N.Y., native, Ciciola scored two goals in last year’s ECAC West title game.
Finding a way to replace Ciciola’s scoring is one obstacle along the path to a repeat. But one advantage is that Ciciola was part of a small senior class, and this current team includes 10 seniors.
“You have to do a lot of the same things that got you there, but it’s the mojo and the chemistry that has to come together if a team is going to advance,” Taylor said. “You have to get yourself playing the best hockey that you can and, even when it’s some of the same group of guys, you have to go about it a little different way every year.”
Salituro and fellow captain Brad Richard have combined for 25 points, while first-year forward Bo Webster — who played four years of juniors with the Newmarket Hurricanes before joining Hobart — has put up 3-6-9 totals.
“I have a similar role from last year, but I’m a senior and there’s more responsibility to set examples for the other guys,” Salituro said. “With Greg Ciciola graduating, it’s even more of a role for me to fill.”
Even with a No. 7 national ranking as the calendar turned to December, Taylor isn’t taking anything for granted. There is a lot of hockey to be played in the ECAC West, and the Statesmen season is about consistency and endurance.
“We need to keep making sure the chemistry and the rhythm keeps going when we play, and that’s our goal,” said Taylor. “It’s about making sure your team has a certain chemistry and belief. We want to get back to the way we were playing last season, but even more so.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of New York Hockey Journal.