The biggest transition that Saint Lawrence went through in the off season outside of losing four forwards up front that had 12 or more points apiece, was the loss of their head coach Greg Carvel to UMass. With his departure saw the return of a familiar face in North Country, in new head coach Mark Morris who previously coached the Saints biggest rival with Clarkson for 14 plus seasons (1988-2002) before being fired three games into the 2002-03 season following an incident with a player in practice. Morris spent the better part of a decade as a head coach in the AHL with a stint in the NHL as an assistant coach. Even with being away from the college game a long time, he is definitely one of the best coaches in the ECAC having been to the NCAA tournament nine times in a ten year period at Clarkson with a Frozen Four appearance in 1991.
|Gavin Bayreuther (photo by Tara Freeman/SLU)|
Up front Saints lost 75 points from four graduating seniors from the a team that made it to Lake Placid a season ago. So far on the season they are averaging 3.38 goals per game on offense which ranks 24th in the nation. They are getting big contributions so far from juniors Mike Marnell (2 goals and 6 assists) and Joe Sullivan (4 goals and 4 assists). Sophomore's Jacob Pritchard (2 goals and 5 assists) and Michael Laidley (2 goals and 3 assists) are also off to good starts. The one weakness for the Saints offense would have to be the power play which is a dismal 8.89% (4 of 45). It ranks 54th out of 60 in the nation and a handful of teams worse than Quinnipiac's power play on the young season.
|Kyle Hayton (photo by Tara Freeman/SLU)|
The Saints first-team All ECAC goaltender Kyle Hayton has gotten off to a rough start in his third season in Canton. The pre season All American and player to watch for the Mike Richter award is 3-3-1 with a 3.36 goals against average and a .904 save percentage. Both are careers lows for a goalie that who had career goals against of 1.99 and a .936 save percentage for his career. Hayton has already been pulled twice this season in games against UMass-Lowell and Providence so it is possible he could be dealing with confidence issues early in the year. Hayton likely will start against Quinnipiac but if his struggles continue, Morris won't hesitate to turn to sophomore goaltender Arthur Brey or freshman Daniel Mannella who have both seen action this year.
The Bobcats are 3-2 in the last five seasons at Appleton Arena having a dropped a 3-2 overtime game a season ago. In fact the games the past two years have been 3-2 overtime affairs with each team pulling out wins. I'd expect this game to be another challenge for the Bobcats as Saint Lawrence has played them very tough during the past few seasons.
Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @jonathan_singer.