St. Lawrence University season preview

By DJ Powers

The St. Lawrence Saints will open their 69th regular season on Oct. 7 when they travel to the Kohl Center to face off against host Wisconsin.

SLU will be looking to better their seventh place finish in the ECACHL last season. They’ll have to do it without some of their top players from last season, most notably Mike McKenna (NSH). McKenna was one of seven players that the Saints graduated.

The Saints lose their starting goaltender from a year ago, but they’ll welcome back another. Graduate student Kevin Ackley will make his return to the SLU lineup after having been medically redshirted all last season due to a knee injury. He’ll bring some much-needed experience to the Saints goal. SLU will also return three other goaltenders in juniors John Hallas and Ryan Thorpe and sophomore Justin Pesony. Thorpe did not see playing time last year. Pesony served as McKenna’s main backup last season, appearing in seven games and posting a 2-2-0 record. Hallas played all of five minutes last season.

With the uncertainty in goal, a very solid defense will be key to helping SLU move up the ECACHL standings. The Saints lost three defensemen to graduation in Matt MacDonald, Tony Maci and Jim Hakewill. Despite the losses, the Saints defensive corps looks to be one of their strengths. The blue line will be led by two outstanding defensemen in junior Drew Bagnall (FLA) and senior Mike Madill. Bagnall became the Saints best defenseman and one of the best in the conference last season. His much-improved offensive skills and confidence along with the effective use of his 6’3/200 lbs. proved to be invaluable to the team’s success. He finished the season with 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 37 appearances. He also led SLU in penalty minutes with 68.

The offensive-minded Madill continues to be one of SLU’s most dependable defensemen. Nowhere was he more valuable to the Saints than on their power play. He led all Saints blueliners last season with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists). His season performance also earned Madill an honorable mention to the ECACHL All-Conference team.

In addition to the returning players, SLU will welcome four newcomers to their defensive corps. The two most notable are Matt Generous (BUF) and Zach Miskovic. Generous, selected by the Buffalo Sabres in this past summer’s NHL draft, comes to SLU from the New England Junior Falcons (EJHL). He amassed 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) and 101 penalty minutes last season. Miskovic comes to SLU from the Clark Cup Champion Cedar Rapids Rough Riders (USHL). He had 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) and 149 penalty minutes last season. Both players bring good size (6’3/195 lbs. and 6’1/185 lbs. respectively) and some needed muscle to the Saints defense.

SLU will also look very good up front, despite the losses of Stace Page, Josh Anderson and Colin Fitzrandolph to graduation. The Saints offense is led by two superb seniors T. J. Trevelyan and John Zeiler (PHO). Trevelyan led the Saints in scoring with 45 points (25 goals, 20 assists). His 25 goals also led the ECACHL last season. His outstanding performance earned him a spot on the ECACHL All-Conference first team and this season he could be a prime candidate for the Hobey Baker award. His linemate Zeiler has become one of SLU’s most reliable and durable players. The Jefferson Hills, PA native finished second on the team with 32 points (eight goals, 23 assists). His 23 assists led the team. What is perhaps most remarkable about Zeiler is that in the three seasons that his has played at SLU, he has never missed a game.

The Saints will welcome two new forwards that should provide some scoring punch this season in Kevin DiVergilo and Brock McBride. DiVergilo comes to SLU from Bay State (EJHL), where he posted 64 points (28 goals, 36 assists) in 38 games. McBride comes to SLU from Cornwall (COJHL), where he amassed 72 points (27 goals, 45 assists) in 57 games.

(Number of NHL prospects on 2005-06 roster: 3)

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