The Canfield Cardinals High School hockey team opens up their 15th season hosting the annual Canfield Thanksgiving tournament at the Ice Zone in Boardman, Nov. 25 and 26. The Cardinals are coming off a nine-win season a year ago, (9-19-1), and head into the 2011-12 campaign with five seniors, who look to lead the way. The Cards will rely heavily on senior goaltender Roger Geiser, who is 93 saves away from becoming the all-time saves leader in the state of Ohio, stopping 1,935 shots at an 88 percent save percentage in his three seasons between the pipes.
Offensively, the big task will be to replace two of the Cardinals all-time leading scorers, Riley Emery and Joe Geiser, who both graduated. Emery (52 goals) and Geiser (19 goals) accounted for most of the Cardinals offense last season.
Fifth-year head coach Randy Emery has confidence that his team will make up for the graduates, "I think that we may be short on scoring touch this season, but on the other hand, we have a strong desire to compete, especially our seniors led by the grit of our captain Ryan Ohara."
This will be Ohara's fourth year on the varsity squad. Last season, Ohara contributed five goals and 13 assists, but adds an element of toughness to the team.
"When you step on the ice against Ryan you know it's not going to be a walk in the park," coach Emery added.
Alternate captain Sean Meditz will play a big role for Canfield, as he brings his 6-ffot, 3-inch frame and four years of varsity experience. He is also a product of the Canfield developmental team, starting with the Cards back in the sixth grade.
"Sean epitomizes the Canfield student/athlete experience. He is certainly a great student, musician, hockey player, and leader, and takes pride in our school. The younger kids can learn a great deal from Sean, and I hope they pay attention," the coach said.
Meditz, who plays both defense and forward, added four goals and 10 assists last season, and will be a big part of the power play for the Cards this year. The Cards will also count on senior alternate captain and defenseman, Scott Schilling. Schilling also brings a big 6-foot, 2-inch body and toughness to the blue line for the Cards. He has shown the ability to have some scoring touch with three goals last year, but is valuable for his defensive skill and toughness. Senior defenseman Adam Scheetz has proven he can play a big role on the back end for the Cards, as he brings a desire and willingness to compete every shift.
Juniors Josh Tancer and Pat Bassett will be counted on to contribute this season. Tancer who is moving to the forward position, played a strong preseason game against Aurora, and Bassett has offensive skill to put the puck in the net. Sophomore forward Nick Cresimanno scored a goal and four assists as a freshman, had a big game in preseason against Aurora by scoring twice and showing the ability to burst with speed. Hard-hitting sophomore Tim Fernstrom returns to the blue line for Canfield, and will have to step up to replace another graduate, Nick Carney, who played a big defensive role for the Cards the last four seasons. First year sophomores TJ Sakkas (forward), Brittany Bettile (defense), and Megan Cole (goalie), all hope to contribute to the Cards' success this season.
The Cards bring five freshman to the varsity this year, including Braden Falkingham, PJ Denney, JP Clendenin. Dan Drotleff, and Mitchel Blasko.
Coach Emery states, "We have a lot of young players (eight first-year varsity) who are going to have to play, its on-the-job training for these young athletes. The effort must be there from top to bottom, seniors through freshman, and coaching staff too. There are no rose-colored glasses looking ahead to this season. We will have to earn every inch of ice."
Canfield drops the puck at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 25 against Avon High School, at the Ice Zone. The complete team schedule can be found at www.eteamz.com/canfieldhockey
The Cardinals belong to the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League, and are part of the Blue East Division, with Aurora, Chagrin Falls High, Cleveland Heights High, Nordonia High School, North Canton Hoover High, and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.
The Canfield varsity head coach is Emery, assisted by Paul Barnes and former head coach Joe Villano. The Cardinals hockey organization also includes a developmental team for fifth- through ninth-graders, coached by Gerry Emery. The Canfield hockey teams are self-supported through funds raised by the Canfield Hockey Boosters with Barry Tancer as president.