Judging from what happened at last weekend’s Thanksgiving Tournament, the Shaker/Colonie hockey team has some growing to do.
The Jets (0-2-0) suffered a 7-1 loss to Section 4 power Ithaca Friday, Nov. 28, at the Albany County Hockey Facility. Then, they were shut out by Section 1’s Mamaroneck 5-0 Saturday, Nov. 29.
Head coach Steve Hudak said he was prepared for what happened.
“It’s almost exactly what I expected,” said Hudak. “We’re so young (this year). I’ve got something like 15 new players. I’m carrying seven freshmen and two eighth graders on the roster. So, it’s going to be a rebuilding year.”
Things looked promising for the Jets early on against Ithaca when Joe Molloy scored less than two minutes into the opening period to tie the score at 1-1. But the Little Red (2-0-0) tallied twice in the final two minutes of the first period and pulled away from there to post the victory.
Shaker/Colonie’s offense continued to struggle in its 5-0 loss to Mamaroneck Nov. 29. The Tigers controlled the puck for most of the game, and goaltender Tim Spero stopped the few scoring chances the Jets had.
“I thought systems-wise, we played well,” said Hudak. “We just didn’t have any offensive threats the whole weekend. The one goal we got was from a freshman (Molloy).”
Hudak said he expects the offense to continue to struggle in the near future as his young forwards become acclimated to the varsity level.
“It’s going to take some time,” said Hudak. “The thing is, we’re not as physically developed as many of the teams that we will be playing this year.”
Shaker/Colonie’s strong suit this year is goaltending, where senior Zach Dignum returns for his fourth varsity season. Dignum stopped 16 shots over two periods in the loss to Ithaca and then made 31 saves in the loss to Mamaroneck.
“Traditionally, we’ve been stronger up front (with the forwards) than in the back, but this year we should be stronger in net,” said Hudak.
The Jets have few seniors other than Dignum on the roster this year, though. Defensemen Jason Hildenbrandt and Joe Mineau are back, as are forwards Justin Lange and Giovanni Malatesta. There are also only four juniors on the 25-player roster — defenseman Vincent Montuori and forwards Mark Egan, Nate McCarroll and Jimmy Morrison.
Even though the majority of his roster are inexperienced underclassmen, Hudak said the players’ work ethic is strong.
“It’s a good group of kids. They’re fun to coach, and they’re eager to learn,” said Hudak.
Shaker/Colonie begins its Capital District High School Hockey League season Saturday, Dec. 6, by hosting Saratoga Springs — the team Hudak said is the favorite to win the Section 2 Division 1 title.
“Thankfully, we’ll get our three toughest games of the year out of the way early on,” said Hudak.
Christian Brothers Academy starts its season Friday, Dec. 5, when it hosts Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia in a non-league game at the Albany County Hockey Facility. G/M/S is playing an independent schedule this season due to a lack of players. CBA’s first league game isn’t until Dec. 17, when it travels to Saratoga.
Associate editor/sports editor