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Amherst College > Athletics > Men's Hockey > M-Hockey Ready for Tough Regular Season

Greg Carr '02
Senior co-captain forward Greg Carr is one of the Jeffs' top puck handlers, finishing with 10 goals and 17 assists as a junior

Ninth Ranked Men's Hockey Ready for Tough Regular-Season Slate

November 13, 2001

AMHERST, MA - Some would call the 2000-01 Amherst College men's hockey team a group of overachievers. Picked to finish fifth in the New England Small College Athletic Conference during the preseason, head coach Jack Arena's Jeffs earned the second seed in the NESCAC Postseason Tournament and advanced to the championship game with a pair of decisive 3-0 wins over Williams and Bowdoin Colleges. There, they battled top-seeded host Middlebury College - then ranked third in the nation - into overtime before falling 4-3, narrowly missing out on an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Quite a season for a team that caught a lot of opponents by surprise. Needless to say, Amherst won't have that luxury this year. Ranked ninth in the nation according to the U.S. College Hockey Online preseason poll despite graduating eight seniors, the Jeffs open their season Friday night at 7:00 against visiting ECAC foe Babson College.

"We'll be well balanced up front with three or four solid lines." Arena explained, "But we'll probably have five freshman and sophomores on defense. We'll also play two junior goalies, neither of which have been particularly tested, so we'll have some growing to do defensively. The talent's there to be successful, it's just how long it takes to mature."

The offense will have to contend with the loss of graduated senior captains Gregg DiNardo (North Reading, MA) and Chris Orszulak (Longmeadow, MA), as well as classmate Rob Hill (Averill Park, NY). With nine goals and 14 assists last season, DiNardo was one of the best forwards in the NESCAC and the Jeffs' fourth leading scorer. Orszulak was similarly impressive with 10 goals and 12 assists as Amherst's fifth leading scorer, while Hill added 10 goals and 11 assists.

Luckily, the Jeffs return a cadre of talented forwards, led by seniors Bob Miele (Woburn, MA), Greg Carr (Hanover, MA), Darren Reaume (West Seneca, NY), Mike Kreger (Glenview, IL), and Davey Moore (Randolph, MA). A Second-Team All-NESCAC selection last season, Miele finished fifth in the conference in scoring (14 goals, 18 assists), eighth in the nation in power play goals (10), and earned NESCAC and U.S. College Hockey Online National Player of the Week honors after notching back-to-back hat tricks in wins over Hamilton and Skidmore Colleges. Carr - a senior co-captain - wasn't far behind with 10 goals and 17 assists and is one of the Jeffs' top stick handlers, setting up linemate Miele and fellow captain Reaume for prime scoring opportunities on a regular basis. Juniors Justin Pitrack (Wilmette, IL) and Erik DiNardo (North Reading, MA) will also be major factors, as evidenced by Pitrack's 16-points and DiNardo's six goals and five assists as sophomores, as will newcomers Beau Kretzman (Edina, MN), Scott Aldrich (Wimington, MA), John Hill (Averill Park, NY), Marc Russell (Essex, VT) and Thierry Pauyo (Montreal, Quebec).

Defensively, the Jeffs will have to replace NESCAC Player of the Year and First-Team All-American Jim Smith (Rochester, MN), who graduated as one the best players in school history. First-Team All-NESCAC and ECAC East/NESCAC All-Star goaltender Nick Rieser (Northfield, IL) also graduated, as did NESCAC All-Academic defenseman Ben Kennedy (Brockton, MA) and classmate Darce Swaggert (Wayzata, MN).

That leaves junior goalies Justin Jagher (Framingham, MA) and Jaffrie Perrotti (Winthrop, MA) vying for time between the pipes, and junior Erich Schram (Madison, WI) (11 assists as a sophomore) to lead a youthful corps of defensemen. Sophomore John McNicholas (Lake Forest, IL) also returns after racking up a goal and eight assists in just 17 games, while classmate Chris Norqual (Eden Prairie, MN) has proved to be a solid defenseman. First-years Brad Craigen (Kitchener, Ontario), Bill Jenkins (Edina, MN) and Nick Harper (Rochester, MN) should also see action on the defensive end.

The Jeffs look great on paper, but they'll have to tackle one of the toughest Division III schedules in the nation, including a host of rugged non-league opponents. Arena hopes a difficult regular-season slate will harden his team for an inevitable run at yet another postseason berth.

"We probably have one of the toughest non-league schedules in the country, playing Plattsburgh State, R.I.T. and Elmira College, as well as the Spurrier Tourney at Wesleyan University with Trinity and Conn. College. It'll be great for the young kids to see the level at which the best Division III hockey is played. Hopefully it'll help them get a feel for where we need to be to compete at this level.

The NESCAC will be super-competitive with the addition of Tufts University, which joins the conference after spending the last 15 seasons in the ECAC North/Northeast Division.

The conference's top seven teams qualify for the NESCAC Postseason Championship Tournament with an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament at stake. First-round action is set for Saturday, February 23, 2002, with the semifinals and championship game to follow on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3. Middlebury has captured the NESCAC title in each of the first two years a conference championship has been held.