EDITOR'S NOTE: This season, Michigan College Hockey is expanding once again to now provide coverage of men's and women's club hockey teams in the state of Michigan. That coverage begins today with the pre-season outlook of Oakland University, ACHA national runners-up last spring.
It was everything an OU hockey player could ask for: screaming fans, packed house, national championship on the line in overtime in your home rink.
The Michigan State offense was swarming Oakland netminder Chris Joswiak when a quick breakout attempt by OU lead to a turnover and in a blink of an eye Oakland University's reign as American Collegiate Hockey Association national champions came to an end. It's a feeling the players, coaches and staff of Oakland hope they won't be feeling again any time soon.
"That might have beenone of the lowest points in OU hockey history in terms of the expectations we had for last year," stated newly appointed head coach Sean Hogan. "This year we have recruited some of the most talented players we have had at OU and we think we can get back to where we were in 2003-2004 as ACHA national champions."
Oakland will again be lead by their offense with two-time ACHA Division II Player of the Year Will McMahon coming back for his junior season. Third-year players Jean Paul Ferrari and Jordan Ingram are expected to improve on their freshman and sophomore year numbers and contribute more offense to this already explosive group of forwards. Seniors Dan Oleksy and Ron Teasdale are expected to bring even more fire power up front, while senior Toshi Gunn will be looked upon to continue his sparkplug style of play.
The Grizzlies will boast an impressive cast of sophomore forwards in Tom Schaffler, Jonah Rogowski and Adam Peters. Schaffler and Rogowski are coming off impressive freshman campaigns while Peters impressed with his strong corner play and aggressive style. Perhaps what is most compelling about this OU team is the crop of incoming forwards, regarded as one of the most talented incoming classes in the brief history of OU hockey.
Ryan Webb comes to Oakland after two impressive campaigns at Utica College (NCAA DIII) and is the first OU hockey player to come from the prestigious USHL (Cedar Rapids and Sioux Falls during 2001-2002 season). Webb also won a Junior A national championship while competing for the Pittsburgh Forge of the NAHL in 2003. Brent Cooper comes to OU after playing last year with Wisconsin River-Falls (NCAA DIII). Cooper also won a Junior A national championship while being named to the NAHL All-Star Team for the Texas Tornado. Both will be expected to add scoring and speed upfront to this already dangerous offense.
Jeff Einhauser and John Parrish both impressed in camp. Einhauser is a speedy forward who played in the heralded Little Caesars AAA program. Parrish is a playmaking forward with softhands and a keen vision of the ice. Both will be able to contribute immediately on the front line.
Brandon Lipari should be remembered by Oakland hockey fans, as he has been a top player in the ACHA with Michigan State for several seasons and will provide immediate impact scoring up front for the Grizzlies. Lipari is a fast, playmaking wing who will also be looked upon for leadership in the Grizzly dressing room.
The OU defense will look to improve on last year's campaign with the addition of Adam Chornoby, a top-notch defenseman in the ACHA with great passing ability. Seniors Anthony Magdowski and Brian Belliotti will provide steady two-way play on the back line and leadership in the dressing room. Belliotti is coming off his most impressive season being named to the All Central Region Team. Third-year man Scott Elder will provide grit and hardnosed play in front of the Grizzly net and second-year players Steve Schaffler and Kyle Valentine will look to improve on solid rookie seasons. Both can spark offense from the back line when needed.
Two newcomers, Jarrett Samp and Kyle McCarthy, round out the defense corps. Both Samp and McCarthy impressed in camp with their hardnosed, rough, aggressive style hockey and will be looked upon to continue the play that garnered the coaches' attention.
In net, Joswiak won the starting job as a freshman a year ago with his ability to stay cool under pressure and make the big save. Newcomer Chase Cousens is expected to pressure Joswiak from the opening gate and try to win the job for himself.