The Sacred Heart Men's Hockey team was picked 11th out of 12 in the Atlantic Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll, released Tuesday afternoon.
The Pioneers return their top two pointer-getters from last season. Senior winger Matt Gingera (Winnipeg, MB) led the Pioneers with 21 goals, the third highest single-season total in program history. Junior center Eric Delong (Oakville, MB) will serve as captain after setting-up many of those Gingera goals last year as his line-mate, leading SHU with 21 assists. Both tied for the team lead with 30 points.
Senior defenseman Chris Bailer (Red Deer, AB) will look to lead the Pioneer defense as one of the assistant captains, along with Gingera. Sacred Heart seeks to improve on the blue line after giving up the most goals per game (4.68) in the conference last year. However, this year's Pioneer team will see the addition of three defensemen in transfers Jordan Ciccarello (New Hartford, CT) from Clarkson and Will Rayner (Newton, MA) from UMASS-Lowell and freshman Jared Eng (North Vancouver, BC). Ciccarello and Rayner both come to SHU with a reputation of being hard-hitting tough defensemen, while Eng is known for his vision and puck-moving skills.
Along with the three incoming defensemen, the Pioneers added five freshman forwards to the team. They join senior Anthony Yelovich (Little Falls, NJ), Ben Ketchum (Greenwich, CT), Torin Snydeman (Groton, MA), and Chad Filteau (Regina, SK), all of whom look to build upon double-digit point totals last season.
The Pioneers open Atlantic Hockey play on October 25 against Bentley at the Milford Ice Pavilion. Sacred Heart beat Bentley last season in the first round of the AHA Tournament with a memorable come-from-behind 6-3 win, highlighted by a third-period hat trick by Gingera. Sacred Heart will take on the team that knocked them out of last year's tournament, the defending champion Air Force Falcons, in a two-game series November 4-5 in Colorado Springs.
RIT was picked first by the Atlantic Hockey Association coaches, followed by Air Force, Holy Cross, Niagara, Connecticut, Robert Morris, Mercyhurst, Army, Canisius, Bentley, SHU, and AIC.
See Complete Release Here.