Coaches renew acquaintance as season resumes

It’ll be an Auld Lang Syne reunion for two veteran men’s hockey coaches whose teams play their first games of 2013 on Friday night.

Fredonia State’s Jeff Meredith and St. Anselm’s Ed Seney cannot possibly have forgotten their old acquaintance. Each man became a head coach during the 1988-89 season, Meredith at Fredonia State and Seney at SUNYAC rival Potsdam. Seney moved to St. Anselm, located in Manchester, N.H., prior to the 2002-03 season.

Friday’s meeting marks the first game between their teams since Seney’s move. Faceoff is 7 p.m.

“We have had some very good practices,” Meredith said Wednesday afternoon as his team prepared for its first of 12 regular-season games in the second semester. “We have really been focusing in our defensive zone play. We gave up too many goals during the first semester. If we are going to make a run, then we really have to buckle down.”

The Blue Devils have allowed four or more goals eight times so far this season. They lost all eight games. Conversely, they have won all five games when they have held opponents to three or fewer goals.

Meredith felt his team was on the rise at the end of the first semester despite a 1-6 record in its last seven games. The Blue Devils most recent win came Dec. 7 over Elmira at Steele Hall, 4-2.

“We felt,” he said, “when the semester ended that we were playing the best hockey of our year. Our mission is to continue to keep that going.”

St. Anselm, on the other hand, is riding a four-game winning streak. The Hawks, members of ECAC East in hockey only (they are in the Northeast-10 in all other sports, including the NE-10 post-season hockey tournament), are 6-2-1 overall, all during the first semester.

Another ECAC East school, New England College, located in Henniker, N.H., is the Blue Devils’ Saturday opponent. The Pilgrims under the direction of 12-year coaching veteran Tom Carroll take a 4-5-1 record into their game Friday night at Buffalo State before traveling to Fredonia for a 3 p.m. Saturday start.

The Blue Devils, in conjunction with the Northern Chautauqua County Youth Hockey Association, are running a two-for-one ticket promotion to Saturday’s game. Adults who purchase one $5 ticket will receive a second adult ticket for free when accompanied by an NCCYHA youth player wearing a game jersey.

In addition, the NCCYHA division with the highest percentage of roster players at Saturday’s game will win a Skate & Shoot session from the NCCYHA board of directors. The players must check in at the registration table in the Steele Hall lobby in order to be counted.