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’16-’17 Season Preview

Wednesday, 08.17.2016 / 11:20 AM / Uncategorized



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August 17, 2016

John Martino, Class of 2018

With the Rider Broncs Ice Hockey program looking forward to their 2016-2017 campaign, there is plenty to build off of after their late playoff run to close the 2015-2016 season.

Heading into the MACH (Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey) playoffs the Broncs posted an overall record of 11-13-2 and a conference record of 5-10-2. With the goal of qualifying for the ACHA regional tournament in sight, the Broncs strung together two impressive performances to advance to the MACH Championship game. With a 2-1 victory over rival Rowan University, their first playoff win over the Profs in three years, and a battle-tested victory over division leading Penn State, the Broncs were set to face the University of Delaware. In the MACH Championship game the Broncs continued to play with gritty intentions but they would fall short of qualifying for regionals by a score of 3-1.

As the Broncs now looks forward to the upcoming campaign, bright spots at all three levels on the ice gives Broncs’ fans great reason for optimism. In goal CJ Lineman has successfully made the transition as a starting collegiate goaltender, backstopping the Broncs all the way to the MACH Championship game.  Chris Johnson continues to show off his offensive dominance leading Rider in both points (30) and goals scored (16). On defense the Broncs have seen tremendous growth from Junior JJ Santagata who is now looked at as one of Rider’s top blue liners. With the proficiency’s that Lineman, Johnson and Sanatagata have shown, they will all be relied upon as the Broncs graduate one of their most impressive classes in recent memory.

Coming into the 2016-2017 season, the Broncs will have graduated their all-time point leader in Pat Grilli and other note able forwards in Chris Daley, Andrew Heinz, winger Michael Kennedy and center Steve Junod. On the back end, the Broncs biggest potential question mark comes with replacing team captain and two-time All-MACH defenseman, Connor Fox.

Junior defenseman JJ Santagata says the seniors’ departure is never easy but the team is ready to move forward. “This team has a lot of talent, we’re a young group of players that know each other real well…now we just have to execute,” Santagata said. He continued to describe the roles that will need to be filled in order to be successful as a team. “I don’t think you can replace the seniors because they are tough roles to replace.  But, we have the right group of guys to step into their roles and lead the way.”

The Rider Broncs Ice Hockey program is one that works hard each year and plays a gritty style that puts points on the board. With the departures of top end talent, the 2016-2017 season will be no different. The positives from years past, beating powerhouse division rival, Penn State, in the MACH playoffs the past two seasons and knocking off Rowan University to name two, will continue to push the Broncs forward. The goal for Rider remains the same, qualify for the 2017 ACHA Regional tournament. The journey each year is never the same but with a strong work ethic, a commitment to the team first attitude and contributions from Lineman, Johnson and Sanatagata, the Broncs are poised for success this year.