Shooting to win

SFU was knocked out in first round of last year’s playoffs.

Last season, SFU men’s hockey were expected to be championship contenders. Instead, their season ended abruptly with an unexpected loss to Trinity Western in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite having dynamite offensive talents in Jono Ceci and Nick Sandor, the Clan could only muster five goals over three games against TWU. Their offensive struggles in the playoffs indicated that the team needed more offensive production from the bottom half of the roster, a need head coach Mark Coletta sought to fill this offseason.

The focus of recruitment was on depth and goaltending, filling the vacancy left by Graeme Gordon. In all, ten new faces will appear on the roster this season.

Langley native Adam Callegari possesses the gaudiest offensive numbers of all the new recruits coming to Burnaby this season. Callegari posted 70 points in 38 games while playing for the Aldergrove Kodiaks of the PIJHL. He is highly skilled and figures to fit right in with the free flowing offensive game the Clan runs.

Experience is the most significant value that Matthew Berry-Lamontagna and Matthew Luongo, the first two commits of the offseason, bring to SFU. Berry-Lamontagna played his last four seasons in the WHL and BCHL where he faced off against the top junior competition in the province. Luongo comes from BCIHL rivals Selkirk College and has played on the past two championship winning squads — the Surrey native knows what it takes to win championships.

The goaltending vacancy was addressed by adding netminders Jordan Liem and Dominic Stadnyk. The two will expect to battle it out over camp and preseason for the starting spot in goal. Both are relatively young at 21 years old, so goaltending will be a position for the SFU faithful to keep an eye on all season.

Although the new players will factor into the team’s success this season, the second year players are even more important. Yan Kalashnikov, Josh McKissock and Aaron Enns had solid rookie seasons in the BCIHL, but more offensive production will be needed from this trio if the Clan wants to reach their ultimate goal.

Enns was third on the team in scoring, putting up 31 points in 21 games and showing flashes of dominance in last years campaign. SFU will rely on Enns to take the next step and be a more consistent threat in order for the Clan to avoid being a one-line team.

The same goes for McKissock and Kalashnikov. Each player has great offensive talent, but neither was able to put the puck in the back of the net as much as this team needed them to.

SFU has enough talent to win the championship, but many things need to go right for the Clan to reach this goal. Some questions remain: Can Liem and Stadnyk fill the giant hole left by the departure of Graeme Gordon?  Will Callegari carry over his incredible scoring performances into the BCIHL? Are Kalashnikov, McKissock and Enns ready to take the next step?

If the answers are no, the Clan may face another early exit from the playoffs. But if they come together and plays to their true potential, this team can win the 2014/15 BCIHL championship.

SFU men’s hockey play their first home game at Bill Copeland Sports Centre on Friday, October 10 at 7:00 p.m. against the Selkirk College Saints.