FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The reset mode didn’t fare very well for the Marksmen a year ago as things went from bad to worse early on and never really recovered in Fayetteville in a season that saw the team manage just 30 points.
Fayetteville now looks to turn its fortunes around with a young, eager group as well as a new face behind the bench, Jesse Kallechy, fresh off of being the assistant coach for Huntsville’s President’s Cup title last season. In Kallechy and NHL veteran Peter Worrell, the modus operandi of the Marksmen appears to be geared toward one of toughness, and the Marksmen will look to ride that wave on an upward swing in the standings.
Nuts and Bolts:
2017-18 Record: 12-38-6 (30 points)
League Finish: Tenth
Goals For Per Game: 2.57, tenth
Goals Against Per Game: 4.68, tenth
Power Play: 40/259, ninth
Penalty Kill: 56/265 tenth
What better way to start anew than with a group of players that’s young but hungry for success? That’s definitely the case for the Marksmen. On the team’s official opening night roster, 11 of its 20 players are listed as the most recent team that they played for being on the collegiate level. How that determination translates to wins on this ice remains to be seen, but given the fact that there’s a locker room full of players eager to prove themselves, intensity should not be a problem for the Marksmen.
Fayetteville may be young, but it’s not devoid of veteran leadership. Center Jake Hauswirth, coming off a 65-point season that was good for third in the SPHL, will be leaned on to show the way to a young crop of players not only during his shifts but in the locker room as well.
Reports from the Marksmen camp pointed toward intensity and unity being points of emphasis. That comes as no surprise given the makeup of the Fayetteville coaching staff of both Kallechy and Worrell. As the year goes on, goals for and against may be questioned, but if the Marksmen coaches have their way, there won’t be a question mark when it comes to a relentless effort by the Marksmen.
With a high amount of younger players, the Marksmen have a group that’s eager to just go out and play hockey. With this type of group, it’s one that’ll be focused on playing hard and tenacious, with the expectation of fundamentally sound hockey being the first step to lead to results on the scoreboard and most importantly, in the win column.
A pitfall of having so much youth for Fayetteville may be how this group handles adversity. The way that this team responds to when things don’t go so well will be intriguing to keep an eye on. Critical for the Marksmen will be not to let a cold streak derail a season. That was the case in December of last year when a string of five losses in seven games began with giving up 19 goals in two games, back-to-back. Adversity will find its way to this team – how it responds will be a defining trait of its young players.
Sure, this team will be young. But that doesn’t mean that a significant load will be on its returners. Not only will Hauswirth be back, but Jamie Hill, whose 30 points was third on the team a season ago, is also returning. Toss in Kyle Thacker on defense, and Fayetteville has itself a bedrock of veterans up and down the ice to set the example for younger players.
Gone but Not Forgotten:
Among the holes left for younger players to step up to fill are at forward with the offseason departure of Ludlow Harris, Jr., and John Schiavo. Both were mainstays on Fayetteville’s scoring lines, Schiavo’s 31 points were second on the team and Harris fourth with 29 points. Harris is now on the expansion Quad City Storm blue line, while Schiavo signed with the Pensacola Ice Flyers.
The Marksmen will also be looking for a newcomer to fill out the enforcer role, someone willing to quickly drop the gloves with Brad Drobot (214 penalty minutes last year) having moved on to Knoxville during the offseason.
Sin Bin Swami Sez:
This team will have growing pains early but hit its stride late, fighting into a playoff spot.
What do you think? Let us know how you think the Marksmen will do!
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