Norwich men’s ice hockey team begins upcoming season with high hopes

The 2014-2015 Norwich University men’s hockey team is ready to make a run at another national championship, according to one of the three team captains.

“We think we got the talent, and we think we got the team to do it,” said Bryce Currier, 22, a 6-foot 2 inch defenseman and senior physical education major from Essex Junction, Vt.
Currier, alongside forward Nevin Lawler and defenseman Alec Thieda, serve as the captains for this year’s team.
“Our three captains all bring something different to the table,” said Paul Russell, 21, a sophomore communications major from Andover, Mass. “All three of them lead by example on the ice, and show everyone what they need to do.”
Despite losing the three top scorers from last year through graduation, the team holds high expectations for the upcoming season. Norwich currently has eight freshmen, supported by a sophomore class of 12.
“This year, the younger guys are going to have to score, and the forwards are going to have to score more goals,” said Tyler Piacentini, 21, a sophomore forward and communications major from Weymouth, Mass. “We have a young team, but the older guys are great leaders, so I think it will be a good year.”
Several members of the Norwich team expect a large amount of offensive production out of forward William Pelletier, a sophomore from St. Jean Chrysotome, Quebec. “He is due for a pretty solid year, and I think he’s going to have a breakout season. He deserves it,” Currier said. As a freshman, Pelletier had ten goals and 11 assists in 30 games played.
Norwich hockey had another successful recruiting season, bringing in a total of nine new players, and will look to those new players for production on both offense and defense as the season progresses.
“Our success comes in part through our recruiting. Coach Mattson and Coach McShane do really well with that,” said Cody Smith, 21, a sophomore communications major from Hudson, Mass.
Norwich’s coaching staff is highly respected throughout the nation. “If you buy into the coach’s system, which everyone does, it’s a good formula to just win,” explains Smith.
Each matchup in the Cadet’s 25-game regular season is important, and every player on the team knows that. Norwich has dominated the ECAC East for the past 16 years, winning each conference title within that timespan.
Although Norwich is a small school in Northfield, “our program is just better. More people follow it, we have better facilities, our coaching is better, and we take it seriously,” Currier said.
Kreitzberg Arena also provides a hostile environment for visiting teams to play in.
“It’s definitely the best arena in the ECAC East,” Smith said. “You step one foot into Kreitzberg Arena, and you’re in awe.”
Attendance for home games often reaches above 1,500, which ranks Norwich fifth for both division II and III nationwide.
Norwich always has several tough opponents, including this season Plattsburgh State, Middlebury College, and Babson University.
“Those are always some of the top teams in the nation every year,” said Russell. “If we come to play in those games, we should never have any problems with those teams.”
For the past two years, Norwich has lost to Babson University in post-season play, but is seeking revenge this season.
“We’re really looking forward to the Babson games,” said Dean Niezgoda 22, a junior criminal justice major from Cape Cod, Mass. The sting of each loss is still fresh in the minds of the upperclassmen, who cherish the opportunity to play Babson again, and look forward to instilling a winning attitude into the minds of their less-experienced teammates.
Despite being a young team, the Norwich men’s hockey team feels good about the upcoming season.
“Anytime we lose a game, it’s a disappointment. We’re trying to go undefeated and take it all the way to a national championship,” Russell said.

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