For 2020-21, Army West Point and Bentley welcome back much of their scoring depth from last year. Both teams return several double-digit scorers and are poised for successful seasons this year. As West Point returns their starting goaltender from last season, Bentley searches for consistency between the pipes. Canisius returns several key scorers from last year, but look for new members to step up after losing three All-Conference team members.
Army West Point
2019-20 Record: 17-13-3 (14-11-3)
With a 13-20-7 record in 2018-19, the Black Knights bounced back last season, finishing fourth in the Atlantic Hockey regular-season standings. Leading factors in last year’s success were depth and stellar defensive play. West Point returns layers to their scoring in 2020-21 while departing from a handful of key players from 2019-20.
West Point produced 12 double-digit scorers last season, eight of whom return for the Black Knights. Leading the scoring department for Army is junior forward Colin Bilek. Bilek netted seven goals while adding 13 assists for 20 points in 2019-20. Bilek’s totals placed him tied for second on the team in scoring during his sophomore campaign. The junior was also a force on the power play for West Point, totaling four goals on the extra-man unit. Look for the junior captain to break out further this season, improving an aching power-play unit form last season.
Other key returners for the Black Knights are senior defenseman John Zimmerman and senior goaltender Trevin Kozlowski. Zimmerman returns to lead one of the strongest defensive groups in all of Atlantic Hockey last season. Zimmerman tallied 19 points while playing a major role on the Black Knights penalty kill. West Point’s penalty kill ranked seventh in the nation last season, in large part to the play of Trevin Kozlowski. Kozlowski totaled 17 wins while sporting a .909 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average. Kozlowski will be a force between the pipes for Army this season.
For the past three seasons, West Point has had one player lead them in points in each season. That player was 2019-20 senior captain Dominic Franco. Franco finished his career with 97 points, totaling 23 points last season while being selected to Atlantic Hockey’s All-Conference Second Team. Franco has been a presence for Army since his all-rookie campaign in 2016, and will leave a large void on an already struggling power play from last season.
Adding to historic departures for Army is Alex Wilkinson. A former Atlantic Hockey Defenseman of the Year, Wilkinson was a main factor in Army’s low goals-against average and nationally ranked penalty kill. Wilkinson was also one of 12 double-digit scorers last season tallying 13 points. Rounding out losses for the Black Knights are forwards Zach Evancho and Michael Wilson. The pair combined for 35 points last season, while both contributing to Army’s extra-man unit.
West Point adds eight freshmen to their 2020-21 roster. This group consists of six forwards, one defenseman, and one goaltender. As Army lacks 20-point scorers, the need for players to step up and produce more points for the Black Knights is evident. While West Point returns depth up front and an exceptional defensive group, look for Lincoln Hatten and Mitch Machlitt to add a scoring presence to Army’s forwards. Hatten and Machlitt combined for 137 points in their respective leaves last season.
2019-20 Record: 17-16-3 (13-13-2 AH)
The Falcons finished eighth in the Atlantic Hockey standings last season, despite having the fifth-best overall record in the conference. In an up-and-down season for Bentley, the Falcons got hot at the right time, entering the Atlantic Hockey playoffs with a four-game winning streak. From there, the Falcons defeated Canisius in the opening round of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament, before having their series shutdown against AIC.
Bentley returns four 20-point scorers from last season. Among them is an Ottawa Senators draft pick, junior forward Jakov Novak. In his sophomore campaign, Novak found his scoring touch, netting 16 goals, while leading the Falcons with 30 points.
Supporting Novak are seniors Luke Santerno and Brenden Hamblet. Santerno enters his senior season with 89 career points. Santerno is a gifted scorer who poses a threat to defenses anywhere on the ice and totaled 23 points in 2019-20. Hamblet, on the other hand, is a talented two-way player for the Falcons. Hamblet notched 22 points last season, with three power-play goals and three shorthanded ones also. Rounding out this group of scorers is sophomore Matt Gosiewski. Gosiewski finished third on the team in scoring with 24 points in his freshman campaign. On the back end, the Falcons return experienced defensemen in Charlie Marchand, Matt Lombardozzi, Ethan Roswell, and Luke Orysiuk.
The Falcons lose valuable pieces from last season, none more important than their goaltender Aidan Pelino. Pelino earned starts in his freshman season, and from there never looked back. Pelino departs posting a 2.72 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage on his career.
Junior Fraser Kirk and sophomore Jason Grande will look to replace Pelino, a staple between the pipes for the Falcons over the last four years. Adding to losses for the Falcons is 100 point scorer Jonathon Desbiens and two-year captain Ryner Gorowsky. Desbiens was a crucial figure on the power play, while Gorowsky seemed to be in the mix during every big moment for the Falcons. Bentley loses starting defensemen Connor Brassard and Brett Orr. Brassard found his scoring prowess, adding 20 points from the blue line last season.
The Falcons add seven freshmen to their roster this season. This class breaks down as four forwards, two defensemen, and one goaltender. Defensemen Matt Clark and Drew Bavarro will look to carve out some time left by Brassard and Orr, while goaltender Nicholas Grabko could make a run for time between the pipes for Bentley.
2019-20 Record: 10-20-6 (9-13-6 AH)
Canisius’ season ended after a hard-fought series with the Bentley Falcons in the opening round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs. Along the way, the Golden Griffins saw increased production across their top three lines, bringing back depth and talent up front. However, Canisius looks for players to step up on the defensive end, looking to improve a group that allowed the 10th most goals in the country per game last season.
The Golden Griffins return two 20-point scorers from 2019-20. Leading returners in points is senior forward Austin Alger. Alger netted five goals for 21 points last season. Alger has been a top-five scorer for Canisius in his prior two seasons and will build off of that this season. Joining him is fellow 20-point scorer Lee Lapid. Lapid scored 11 goals last season, with seven coming on the power play. Totaling 21 points, Lapid proves to be a lethal scorer with the puck on his stick.
A shining star for the Golden Griffins last season was also forward Keaton Mastrodonato. In his freshman campaign he tallied 17 points, earning Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Month in February. Another sophomore looking to make a large impact this year is goaltender Jacob Barczewski. In his freshman season, Barczewski made 24 starts and earned a .905 save percentage.
The Golden Griffins part ways with three Atlantic Hockey All-Conference Team members last season. Leading this group is forward Matt Hutchison. Hutchison exits with 113 career points, leading Canisius with 32 points last season. Hutchison’s partner, Matt Hoover, also exits with 32 points last season and 99 total career points. The pair combined for 33 goals last season, leaving a major hole when it comes to scoring goals for the Golden Griffins.
On the back end, Canisius loses scoring defenseman Matt Stief. An Atlantic Hockey Third-Team member, Stief totaled 26 points last season, far outscoring any other defensemen in Canisius’ locker-room. Scoring and production as a whole will be question mark for the Golden Griffins, especially from the blue line in, this season.
Canisius adds seven freshmen to their roster this upcoming season. The group consists of five forwards and two defensemen. With an emphasis on scoring, each incoming freshman joining the Golden Griffins totaled more than 20 points in their last season. Specifically, defensemen Jack Lyons and Jackson Decker look to add scoring from the blue line. Lyons amounted 72 points in 100 games over his last two seasons in the OJHL, while Decker tallied 18 points in 25 games last year in the NAHL.