Simon Fraser 2008 Preview
By William Howard | February 21st, 2006
BURNABY, BC (February, 21, 2008) Ð After posting a 9-2 record in 2007 and making their fifth straight trip to the PNCLL Final Four Conference Championships, Simon Fraser will begin the 2008 season ranked #24 in the MCLA. The Clan will continue to raise the bar this spring in order to compete with the nation's elite and get back to National Championship contention.
In their fourth season under Co-Head Coaches Brent Hoskins & Jeff Cathrea, Simon Fraser will look to build upon 2 out-of-conference (OOC) wins last season as they embark on one of the nations toughest schedules. 2008 features five games versus OOC competition with six opponents ranked in the Top 25, including four ranked in the top fifteen and two ranked in the top five.
The Clan return five starters and four All-Conference selections from last years team that finished 2nd in the PNCLL. Without a single senior on the 2008 roster, Simon Fraser will rely and its youth to gain valuable experience and push for the programs first PNCLL Championship since 2003 and a trip back to the National Championships.
The Clan return all three of their starting attack in sophomores Adam Foss (Cochrane, AB / Cochrane High School), Mike Ripley (Saskatoon, SK / E.D. Feehan High School) and Ben Towner (Port Coquitlam, BC / Terry Fox Secondary). Ripley will move to the fourth spot to start the spring season with freshman & Burnaby Mountain Selects product Chris Tessarolo (New Westminster, BC / New Westminster Secondary) joining the starting line-up in 2008.
The Clan are once again young up front with only a combined 33 starts at attack. Towner led the Clan in scoring in 2007 when he posted 46 points on 36 goals and 10 assists and was named to the PNCLL All-Conference 1st Team. Ripley totaled 28 points on 25 goals and 3 assists and Foss, a captain in 2008, added 25 points on 12 goals and 13 assists. All three players will be asked to increase their production this season to lead the Clan's high powered offense.
Also in the mix is Alex Petz (St. Albert, AB / Bellerose Composite), a freshman who will look to work in on the right side.
Heading in to the season freshmen Nick Berotia (Coquitlam, BC / Centennial High School), Ben Davies (New Westminster, BC / New Westminster Secondary) and Matt Miyashita (Richmond, BC / Hugh Boyd Secondary) will compete with sophomores Kevin Riley Coquitlam, BC / Gleneagle Secondary), Russel Thomas (Nanoose Bay, BC / Ballenas Secondary) and junior captain Curtis Manning (Surrey, BC / Fraser Heights Secondary) for spots on the first two lines and will all be important to Simon Fraser's success this year.
Manning, an honorable mention All-American in 2006 and a two-time PNCLL All-Conference 1st Team selection, is set to build upon the 91 points on 44 goals and 47 assists that he has registered in his first two seasons to lead the Clan's top offensive line.
Also set to make an immediate impact are a trio of freshman who will all be asked to contribute immediately: Miyashita comes to SFU after being invited to Team Canada's Final U19 Selection Camp and will play a key role in taking the Clan to the next level. Davies is one of the best pure athletes on the team and will add speed and athleticism to the Clan's midfield. Bertoia will add depth on one of the top two units and has the potential to develop into a consistent scoring threat.
Riley and Thomas are sophomores who gained valuable experience last season and should become breakout performers in 2008.
Other midfield contenders include junior Jeff Matheson (Port Moody, BC / Gleneagle Secondary), and sophomores Shawn Donahue (Kamloops, BC / South Kamloops Secondary) and Mike King (Vancouver, BC / Point Grey Secondary) who will all feature on the Clan's Extra Man Offense. Freshman Bryan Scott (Guelph, ON / John F. Scott) will provide much needed depth to the Clan's midfield.
SHORT STICK DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD
Athleticism, aggressiveness and a physical style of play should make the Clan's defensive midfield one of their key strengths in 2008. The top pairing of sophomore captain Ben Johnson (Calgary, AB / Berkshire Preparatory) and freshman James Poelzer (New Westminster, BC / New Westminster Secondary) should have the speed to stay with any offensive player and is strong enough to hold their own physically. They could also prove to be an offensive weapon in transition, always a threat to join the run and gun gear of the Canadian offense.
Sophomore Jim Clifford (Coquitlam, BC / Centennial High School) and junior Darryl Stickler (Coquitlam, BC / Centennial High School) will also play significant minutes and will handle the majority of the face-off responsibilities for the Clan. Having both played long pole in high school, Poelzer and Clifford are also options to work their way into the Clan's close defense rotation and will likely see time on the back end versus ranked opponents.
LONG STICK MIDFIELD
Talented freshman, Nathan Clare (Ladner, BC / Vancouver College) will experience induction by fire as he is asked to shoulder the bulk of the LSM minutes for the Clan. Clare was also an invite to Team Canada's Final U19 Selection Camp and possesses the speed and athleticism to contribute on both sides of the ball.
Junior Matt Esaw (Richmond, BC / Vancouver College) saw time as a face-off wingman last year before suffering a season ending injury. A high-energy player, he is also expected to see playing time in 2008 and adds a physical and imposing presence to the Clan's backend.
The Clan will look to junior captain Calvin Castagner (New Westminster, BC / New Westminster Secondary) to anchor their starting corps of close defenders. Castagner, a two-time PNCLL All-Conference 2nd Team selection, is a shut down defender who is also adept at taking away the ball.
Castagner will be joined by freshman Curt Brown (Lantzville, BC / Dover Bay Secondary) who is poised to have an immediate impact on the Clan's defense. Brown arrived on campus also after being invited to Team Canada's Final U19 Selection Camp and has the size and strength to immediately compete at the collegiate level.
Junior Matt Brascia (Coquitlam, BC / Dr. Charles Best Secondary), a PNCLL All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2007, and sophomore Aiden Inglis (Edmonton, AB / Ross Sheppard High School) will compete for the Clan's third defense position and are both expected to contribute this season.
Simon Fraser will be lead by highly touted freshman Dean Stewart (Duncan, BC / Claremont Secondary) between the pipes in 2008. Stewart is poised to make his mark in the cage at the collegiate level after an outstanding high school career where he was a three-time starting goaltender for the BC U19 Provincial Team, leading the Selects to National Championships in 2005 & 2006.
A strong face-off percentage is always key to success and the Clan have options when it comes to finding a winning combination at the "X". Sophomore Jim Clifford will begin the spring season as the Clan's starting draw man. Sophomore Ben Johnson and junior Darryl Stickler have each taken their share of face-offs and will provide very capable back-up.