POTSDAM Both the SUNY Potsdam mens and womens hockey teams spent all of last season away from home, practicing at local high school arenas or at Clarkson Universitys Cheel Arena.
But a year without a rink was worth it for the Bears, who now can call home a renovated Maxcy Hall.
The project, which cost $8.7 million, gave the 40-year-old arena a completely new look, with better seating, a new press box, a bigger ice surface, new locker rooms for the players and new offices for mens coach Chris Bernard and womens coach Jay Green.
The seating design, for me, is very exciting, Green said. I think we have kind of a minor-pro hockey look here with balcony seating and seating between the goal lines. Its a good look for (NCAA Division III) hockey.
Said Bernard, I think it puts us up among the top facilities in the country. People talk about (SUNY) Oswego, (SUNY) Plattsburgh, Norwich and Middlebury and were going to be in the same breath. Not only the arena, but the locker room experience for our kids.
One thing both coaches are enjoying is showing the new facility off to recruits.
Right now we have an outstanding opportunity to navigate our way to top student athletes at the Division III level, with what we have for a fan experience and amenities, Bernard said. Were very serious about hockey on our campus, within the athletic department and the institution on the whole.
Said Green, This fall was the first time we were able to get players into the rink and all of them have been very impressed with what they saw
The Bears had a tough time last year, finishing with a 9-16-1 overall record and a 6-10 record in SUNYAC play.
SUNY Potsdam had just one player reach double figures in goals - Mike Arnold with 16. But Arnold returns as do all but one of the top 10 scorers from a year ago. The Bears also return all three of the goalies who played last year, including primary goalie Austin Keiser.
I like our energy level and our work ethic, Bernard said. Its the first time Ive had a veteran roster for years. Weve raised the standard and set the bar of excellence and they are working toward that every day.
Joining Bernards staff this year as a volunteer assistant is former Clarkson player Rodger Huiatt.
SUNY Canton continues its transition to playing a fulltime Division III schedule. The Kangaroos went 8-15 last year in their first season of transition. SUNY Canton was 5-3 at home but went 3-12 away from home.
The Kangaroos struggled on offense, producing just 52 goals and scoring on only 10.2 percent of their power plays.
SUNY Potsdam had offensive woes last year, scoring only 50 goals in 26 games and the Bears were just 5 for 81 on the power play.
Clarkson transfer Amanda Lucky led the team in scoring with six goals and nine assists. She returns along with all but one of the Bears goal-scorers.
SUNY Potsdam will be inexperience in goal.
Were pretty optimistic, Green said. Any time you can walk away from your first practice feeling that expectations are higher than you assumed they are going to be, thats a good thing.
SUNY Canton only had eight players and one goalie last season, but still managed to win eight games and produced two double-digit goal scorers in Karley Cree (16) and Grace Lyon (11).
The Kangaroos have a roster of 19 players to start this season.