MONSEY – It’s hard to fathom, but Suffern might be rebuilding.
The most celebrated hockey program in the area has played for a Section 1 title each of the past seven years. Nobody is complaining, but the Mounties have not celebrated a championship since 2013 and they have some lineup issues to sort out before the new season gets under way later this month.
In a community that relishes Friday nights at Sport-O-Rama, that’s a drought.
“The goal is to get back to winning Section 1 titles and doing what Suffern teams used to do,” senior co-captain Teddy Bristow said.
Ruling out another championship run would be foolish at this point because the Mounties traditionally win more games with depth than individual talent. Establishing the kind of chemistry needed to skate away from other traditional powers was high on the list of priorities as 31 hopefuls went up and down the ice at practice on Tuesday.
No more than 26 will make the final cut.
“Going in, we have a senior class that hasn’t won in three years and it’s obviously not something they are happy with,” Suffern coach Rob Schelling said.
So far, the alumni have been compassionate.
“They obviously want the program to succeed,” senior co-captain David Rozitis said. “They give us positive criticism or positive advice. They don’t want us to graduate without winning a Section 1 title, either.”
C.J. Greco, Tim Patwell and Sean Gordon all graduated. Reed Stark and Troy Daniels were probably the most gifted players on the 2015-16 roster and they both left the program.
It changes the approach.
“Everybody realizes it’s about chemistry now and how we play as a team,” Bristow said. “Everybody has to step up.”
The defense has to deliver game to game.
Ryan Fueg is taking over in goal and the senior is expected to make a positive impact from the start.
“His story is so good,” Schelling said. “He was a defenseman on modified. His freshman year I went down for the first day of tryouts and we had an extra goalie. I didn’t know what was going on, but over the last three years he’s done nothing but work his butt off.
“We’ve had a couple of kids in the past who only started as seniors and had incredible seasons. We’re hoping Ryan is another one of them.”
Rozitis is a physical defender capable of leaving a mark.
Up front, the Mounties will rely on the likes of Evan Cama, Shaun Greenberg, Kyle Foresta and Matt Olsen.
“We don’t have that guy who is going to score that beautiful goal like we’ve had in the past,” Rozitis said. “Our goalie will make great saves and our defense can win us games.”
It’s a formula that’s worked fine in the past.
“Offensively, we’re going to be OK,” Schelling said. “We are going to be totally team-oriented. We’re not going to rely on any one guy. The work ethic is there so I think were OK with that.”