By Evan Slavit
As for the change in head coach, the players don’t really see that as a problem. Not only has Bennett been with this team since 2005, but he has had a hand in recruiting them as well. Leaman will definitely be missed, but the continuity preserved by hiring Bennett will help ease any transition anxiety.
The biggest strength of this team seems to be its depth, and that depth has been renewed with an excellent freshmen class. While many of them have yet to see the ice, the veterans on the team like what they see so far.
“They look real good. A lot of guys bring different things to the table,” said Simpson. “They are going to be huge for us, and expect a lot of them to play this year and be important parts of our team.”
There are ten new faces, and one of them, Max Novak, has already tallied his first multi-goal effort. His performance was reminiscent of Josh Jooris’s hat trick to start the season last year. Jooris parlayed that performance to a 32 point season (9g 23 a). Other freshmen seeing ice team last weekend were Sam Coatta and Shayne Gostisbehere. If this class can be even half as productive as last year’s, the Dutchmen should expect to do even better than where they are ranked now.
While the Dutchmen have tons of talent, that doesn’t guarantee them anything. Case in point: Colgate’s abysmal regular season last year. They were expected to be near the top of the conference, but wound up being cellar dwellers. Outside of a nice playoff run, the Raiders’ lofty predictions fell flat. The players understand that, and will be the first to tell you how little stock they put into preseason polls and predictions.
In a sport in which hype—positive or negative—can infiltrate a locker room, Bennett’s team refuses to rest on their laurels. It speaks strongly about the character of the players on the team, their new head coach, and the stability of a once-floundering program.
Union’s first home games are Friday and Saturday against Western Michigan. Both games start at 7 p.m.