Hockey receives prestigious honors from the National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey
After an astounding season, the Le Moyne club hockey team has received the top honors from the National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey (NAIH): Most Outstanding Player of the Year Award, Coach of the Year Award and All-American Team honors.
In his first year at Le Moyne, head coach Robert Shattell led the ‘Phins to a winning record as well as a championship win. Shattel was awarded the Coach of the Year award from the NAIH. It was the inaugural Coach of the Year award for the association.
“I accept it as a team award, because really I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to win this award without the commitment and assistance I received from my assistant coaches and players,” Shattel said. “Steve Eccles and Dave Gaglinese were vital to our team success. From practices to games their insight into adjustments and planning made them a huge asset to our team and success.”
The Most Outstanding Player Award went to junior forward Justin Cunningham, who played in 16 games over the season.
“Justin Cunningham was very well deserving of Player of the Year. He was a rock for us and showed great leadership throughout the year,” Shattel said. “He took two years off from hockey and came back and looked better then ever. He is a big, strong kid who gets pucks to the net and stepped up big for us in big moments.”
Along with Cunningham, sophomore Brendan Chin, sophomore Nate West and senior Eric Manley were All-Americans, deemed “the cornerstones to our team” by Coach Shattel.
“Chin and West were our heart and soul on defense, being named assistant captains as juniors puts a lot of pressure on them, in which they responded,” Shattel said. “Eric Manley won us many games and was our last line of defense for us. He made many key saves and none more bigger than killing off a 5 on 3 power play with two minutes left in a tied championship game.”
West, Chin, senior Tim Neer, freshman Garrett Ordway and junior Andrew Skerpon were also members of the All-Scholar American Team.
The team was extremely successful this past season, having talented players and a unified coaching staff to lead the way.
“We were a deep team this year and the kids bought into the culture we as a coaching staff tried to create. We wanted to create a hard-working, blue collar, defensive-minded hockey team, and I think by the end of the year we were playing that style of hockey,” Shattel said.
On the offensive side, Cunningham, sophomore Adam Reask and freshman Eddie Maxam led in scoring and assists, with the help of Skerpon, sophomore Dave Carroll and Neer. The strong defensive team was made up of Chin, West, Ordway, senior Justin Stranz and senior Chris Sova.
“Having good puck moving defensemen allowed us to move the puck out of our own zone with confidence and security,” Shattel said.
After returning from a year off of hockey, Manley led Le Moyne in saves, being an outstanding player for the team.
“Eric Manley played out of his mind for us,” Shattel said. “He returned to hockey after taking last year off and had his best year, posting a 91 percent save percentage and a 2.6 goals against average on his way to wining the UNYCHL MVP this year.”
To change the atmosphere of the hockey team, Coach Shattel and his staff worked together to make the team a more serious endeavor.
“As a coaching staff we wanted to make it more serious than a ‘club’ atmosphere. We worked a lot in practice on systems and D-Zone, along with weekly game film sessions and scouting reports on each opponent,” Shattel said. “We wanted to make sure the kids were prepared for each game to the best of our ability. But without the kids buying in, none of the success would have been possible.”
For the next year, the team is losing four seniors: Neer, Pat Shea, Stranz and Manley.
“Though those were four big contributors to our team success, we have many underclassmen who will need to step into those spots and fill them. But we have a strong senior class coming back, including Chin, West, Reask, Sean Grogan and Will Kaljeskie to hopefully keep the success going that we had this past year,” Shattel said. “Losing Manley hurts us but we are hopeful in finding a goalie who can step in and take over what he did this year and we have one recruit who is close to joining us for next year.”