2009-10 men’s hockey preview

Those who attend the 2009-10 Laurier men’s hockey games this season will see a very different team than the Hawks of recent memory.

With three of the top six forwards lost to graduation, it is not expected that this team will score as prolifically as last year’s group that scored 120 times in 28 regular season games.

“We are going to have to keep it simple offensively this year,” said head coach Kelly Nobes. “We just do not have the offensive prowess we had the last couple of years.”

Where the Hawks gain is in the defencemen’s physicality. North Vancouver, B.C. native Mike Gauthier is 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds and brings six years of Western Hockey League experience and 10 games of professional hockey with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces to the table. Gauthier plays with a meanness unseen on the Golden Hawks in many years, delivering punishing hits.

Along with Gauthier, Nobes and his staff added tough 6-foot-2, 210 pound Kyle van de Bospoort from the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

“We likely have been outmuscled in the past in playoff games when the referees have not been calling the standard set during the regular season,” said Nobes.

“Now we feel we have a team that can be physically competitive.”

Offensively, the Hawks will rely on three gifted snipers.

The dynamic third-year Craig Voakes is a two-time 20-goal scorer in the Ontario Hockey League. He followed up his Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Rookie of the Year, 42-point season with a disappointing sophomore year last year as he was hampered by an ankle injury.

Still, he came on strong late in the year and finished with 24 points in only 16 games.

Newly added fifth-year Paul Bradley was a consistent scorer on a very weak Royal Military

College team and has been among the top point-getters in the league for the last few years.
Additionally, Hawks’ captain Jean-Michel Rizk is arguably the best player in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA).

Rizk utilized his tremendous puck skills, vision and shot to lead the CIS in goals last year with 25; he was also second in points with 54, all in only 27 games.

“Jean-Michel plays 100 per cent every time he touches the ice and is a natural leader on and off of it,” said Nobes.

“He is the hardest working guy on our team and plays that way whether it is in practice or during the game.

“Rizk, Voakes and Bradley are the guys we will lean on,” he continued.

“But we also will look for other veterans to step up as well.”

Those other veterans such as Jeff Borrows, Nathan Peacock and Colin Williams were underwhelming in the pre-season and secondary scoring will be crucial for this team to go anywhere.

Sophomores Ryan Bernardi and Philip Magistrale are smooth, puck-moving defencemen who will contribute significantly on offence – but they need to learn to deal with bigger, more physical forwards.

The most impressive rookie has been forward Jason Bergeron, the speedy playmaker who played in the OHL last season.

“We are going to have to win games tighter,” Nobes said. “We are going to have to be more defensive, and win games with lower scores.”