AMHERST, Mass. – The 2018-19 Amherst College men's ice hockey team has high expectations heading into the new season after capturing the No. 3 seed in the perennially tough NESCAC after compiling an 11-9-5 overall record and a 8-5-5 mark in league play last winter.
Led by Jack Arena '83, who enters his 36th season at the helm of the program, the Mammoths return 22 skaters from the 2017-18 squad that suffered a tough loss in the conference quarterfinals – including five of their six top point-getters, all of which registered 13-or-more points.
Additionally, the Mammoths welcome a skilled group of five first years, with Sean Wrenn '22, Mitchell Shults '22, Stephen Rex '22, Bryant Gunn '22 and Aaron Jones '22 all vying to make an immediate impact for Amherst.
Patrick Daly '20 headlines a skilled core of veteran forwards, with the junior notching 18 points behind 10 goals and 8 helpers to rank second on the team in a breakout sophomore campaign.
Each logging 15 points last winter, captain Jack Fitzgerald '19 (9G, 6A) and Joey Lupo '20 (8G, 7A) are players to watch alongside Daly up front, while Nick Bondra '21 adds to a potent offensive attack after netting five goals and dishing out eight helpers for 13 points in a strong debut season.
Max Roche '19, John Festa '19 and P.J. Conlon '20 are experienced, versatile attackers that each saw action in 20-or-more contests last winter, while Stanley Brenner '19, Steven Mallory '19, Jack Lloyd '21, Corey Goldstein '21 and Matteo Mangiardi '21 are the final Amherst returners, adding depth and grit to the offense.
A First-Team All-NESCAC honoree a season ago, captain Phil Johansson '19 will look to lead the defensive unit once again after ranking third on the Mammoths in points with 16 and fourth in the league among defenders in scoring last winter after tallying four goals, including two power play scores and one game-winner, and dishing out 11 assists in a stellar junior campaign.
Playing all 24 games a year ago, Pieter von Steinbergs '21 (2G, 2A) will once again be a critical component of Amherst's nationally prominent penalty kill unit that finished 96 of 105 (91.4%) to lead the NESCAC and rank second in all of Division III last season, while juniors Noah Gilreath '20, A.J. Klein '20 and Greg Krisberg '20 will all step into leadership roles after seeing the ice in 15-or-more contests as sophomores.
Despite the loss of starter Connor Girard '18 to graduation, the Mammoths return three keepers from last year's squad, including Giancarlo Ventre '20, Michael Cullen '21 and Alex Einarsson '19. Combining for eight starts, Ventre (.915 save percentage) and Cullen (.875 save percentage) gained valuable experience in between the pipes last winter, while Einarsson has looked solid throughout the preseason.
The Mammoths kick off the 2018-19 season off on Friday, Nov. 16 when they travel to Hamilton College for a 7 p.m. conference bout.