Buffalo State ranked No. 13 in D-III preseason poll

Senior+Mike+DeLaVergne+will+move+on+to+play+for+ECHL%27s+Atlanta+Gladiators.

Buffalo State Sports Information

Senior Mike DeLaVergne will move on to play for ECHL's Atlanta Gladiators.

Jacob Fyock, Reporter

The Buffalo State men’s hockey team is coming off a record-breaking season where they recorded the most wins in program history and earned the No. 1 seed in the SUNYAC playoffs for the first time.

This growth has been spearheaded by Steve Murphy, who took over the reigns as interim head coach last season and led the Bengals to an overall record of 15-7-4.

This offseason, Murphy shed his interim tag and became the third head coach in the program’s 25-plus year history.

In addition, the team placed second in the conference last year, the highest finish ever in the program. They also hosted a playoff game, another first.

The Bengals enter the season in the preseason rankings for the first time, according to D3Hockey.com. They will enter Friday’s opener ranked 13th in the D-III national preseason polls. The team is surrounded by hype entering the 2016-17 season.

This success has also led to broadened recruiting. Murphy recruited 12 freshmen to bulk up his roster. He believes that each new recruit will have potential to help this team in the long run.

While boasting a 28-man roster, Murphy sees more depth on this team than the prior year.

“I think we got 28 guys that we can really move around and juggle and insert them into different spots in the lineup, which gives you a lot of flexibility,” Murphy said.

This freshmen class has brought size to this team, as seven of them are either six feet or taller and five of them weigh 200 pounds or more.

“We got bigger, we got heavier and we got stronger, which I think will allow us to last a little longer into the season,” Murphy said.

Murphy added that the first two weeks have been a bit slow because of having a high number of freshmen on the team. He feels he must do more teaching, so they know how his system works.

“We got to keep reminding ourselves to stay patient. It’s a process,” Murphy said. “We were an older team last year. We only had two freshmen, so we were spoiled in a way, because we didn’t have to do a ton of teaching.”

From last season’s team, defensemen Nick Schiro and Todd Graham and forward Ryan Salkeld are three big players that will not be returning.

Salkeld was a key player in the scoring department. He recorded 34 goals and 39 assists during his four years at Buffalo State. Murphy knows he was a big loss, but believes the team is still strong offensively.

“We’re not looking for one guy to replace him, but hopefully will have a few guys that can step up and fill the goal scoring that he vacated,” Murphy said.

A couple of key players who are coming back are senior forward Taylor Pryce and senior goaltender Mike DeLaVergne

Pryce led the team last season in goals, assists and points, and was also named to the All-SUNYAC third team. He will be a key asset to have throughout the season.

DeLaVergne was named All-SUNYAC first team and holds single season records in wins (14), save percentage (.932%) and goals against average (2.06).

Two other players Murphy mentioned to look out for are junior defensemen Brody Power and Marcus Michalski.

“They are two steady defensemen that will provide us a calming presence in our end and as well as some offense in the back end,” Murphy said.

Looking at his personnel, Murphy is seeing that this team is going to have to rely on every single person if this team wants to be better than the prior year.

“We may not have one or two guys that carry us, but it’s going to be more of a team effort right out of the gates, and right to the end and I think that is what makes the team exciting for us coaches,” he said.

Murphy emphasized building a successful team right on the bat in order to foster support and pride for the program in his players.

“You don’t have a great experience unless you play on a successful hockey team. That was one of the things that I wanted to build right away,” Murphy said. “Hopefully we can continue those ways this season.”

The beginning part of this season will prove to be tough as the Bengals start their first two games against Fredonia, and then will play Plattsburgh.

“We’re tested right out of the gate, but I think that’s how you want to start it,” Murphy said. “You need to beat your best right at the beginning of the year. I’m confident in our guys that.”

This season has all the factors to be an exciting one, as Murphy and his team looks ready to take their talents to the next level as they want to win the SUNYAC championship and get a berth into the NCAA tournament.

Their first game will be home this Friday, Nov. 4 as they will take on rival Fredonia Blue Devils.

 

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