Rochester, MI- Oakland ACHA DI Hockey has concluded a very successful first semester. The Golden Grizzlies finished the first half of the schedule 13-3-2 overall and 4-1-1 in Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League action.
Since the 2006-07 season, (when Oakland joined ACHA DI) 13-3-2 is best record in program history after the first semester. Oakland went 8-2-1 at home and 5-1-1 on the road during the first half of the season.
Head coach Nick Field has done a good job in shaping and rebuilding the Oakland roster along with assistant coaches Aaron Hundt and Jacob DeSano.
Goalies: Oakland was led in net during the first semester by Josh Pack. He went 9-3-0 with a 1.71 goals against average and a 95% save percentage. He has allowed two goals or less in 12 of his 13 starts this season and Pack has a 21 save shutout over Eastern Michigan in early November.
Goalies Tommy Grassano and freshman Connor Boucha backup Pack on the Oakland depth chart. Boucha has yet to see game action this season and Grassano comes into the second semester with a 2.00 goals against average and a save percentage of 90% including stopping 18 of 20 shots against John Carroll earlier this semester in just his second career start at Oakland.
Forwards: The forward group has played well over the first semester scoring 4.2 goals per game up from 3.3 goals per game last season. Five forwards are averaging at least a point per game this season.
Chase Sereno leads the group in points (27) and in goals (14) averaging 1.5 points per game. Three freshman in Brendan Smith, Cam Schwartz and Jeremy Schwartz, have been big additions up front combining for 64 points through the first 18 games of the season. Smith leads the team in assists (15) and leads the freshman class in points (24), while Cam Schwartz leads the freshman class in goals (13) and Jeremy Schwartz is averaging a point per game along with being a key energy player during every shift including his chipping in 18 points.
Forward Chris Hubbard, also averaging a point per game has continued to build upon his successful sophomore season with his seven goals and 10 assists. Nic Fernandez has scored nine goals and they have been scored in key situations with his booming shot, during the games that helped lift the team to win. Freshman forward Ryan Saad has made an immediate impact finishing the semester with ten points along with doing the little things that do not show up in the scoresheet but are important night in and night out.
Oakland once again has counted on forward Luke Mackin as one if its most important players, Mackin plays in all situations and his grit and energy change the course of hockey games. He has scored six goals so far this season. Captain Greg Meuser and his leadership abilities has quickly shaped and brought the young Oakland team together. Meuser has eight points in the first semester and has been sacrificing his body and blocking shots on the ice. Forward Tyler Martin joined the team at the start of the semester and has appeared in 16 games adding additional depth to the forward group.
Defensemen: The defense of Oakland has been a strong point of the season, in addition to strong goaltending. The team is giving up 1.8 goals per game, a big improvement over the four goals per game allowed last season. The team has also allowed two or less goals in 14 of the 18 games this season.
Defenseman Tyler Simon leads the Golden Grizzlies blueline with 14 points. He has five multi-point games this season. He has been one of the anchors of the defense is every key situation. Freshman defenseman Cory Schwartz has done a fantastic job of stepping into a key role this season. He has recorded 12 assists on the year and has been solid defensively. Another freshman on the blueline that has improved each and every game and has become an important piece to the Oakland defense is Matthew Moretuzzo. He has eight assists on the season and has earned the trust of his teammates and coaches on the ice.
Taking another step in the improvement of his game along with generating and creating more scoring chances is defenseman Danny Scorzo. He has elevated his game to a top pair defender this season, his second at Oakland. Freshman defenseman Bruce McLean missed the final six games of the semester. He scored one goal and added an assist before his semester ended. He was logging minutes and playing well before coming out of the lineup. Hopefully McLean will get right back into form when he returns in the second semester. He is a key piece to the defense.
Oakland received a big boost at the end of November with the return of Nate Richards, who missed most of the first semester due to injury. He played in five games recording a goal and two assists. He is one of the anchors of the blueline with Simon and a key contributor on the powerplay. Kyle Nikles also returned to the lineup late in the semester and adds steady depth to the blueline and a stabilizing force for the Oakland defense. He will need to continue his role of shutting down the other team.
With a successful first semester comes increased expectations for the second semester. Oakland is in position to make a run at a spot in the 2020 ACHA DI National Tournament in March. In order to accomplish this goal the Golden Grizzlies must continue to play with urgency, play smart hockey and continue to improve shift after shift. There is still lots of work to do and the team takes the ice again in January against Michigan State before resuming conference play against #1 Adrian. With all the teams goals still in reach the second semester should be exciting for the Golden Grizzlies.