FAYETTEVILLE, NC – A new era is about to begin for Fayetteville hockey. First-year owners Chuck Norris and Jeff Longo, first-year head coach Nick Mazzolini, and the first year of Fayetteville hockey playing with a new name and attitude as the Fayetteville Marksmen hit the ice for training camp this upcoming week. There are quite a few unknowns entering training camp. Here are some notes as the Marksmen start training camp this week.
- First-year head coach Mazzolini will have to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each of his players in training camp in a short amount of time. Mazzolini has not seen most of these players in action and this will be his first training camp as a coach. His hockey knowledge will be put to the test early.
- The Marksmen will play an exhibition game in Macon against the reigning Presidents Cup champion Macon Mayhem after just a couple days of training camp practice. The Mayhem are returning a host of key players while the Marksmen are returning just a few. It should provide Coach Mazz a good measuring stick for where his young team stands entering the season.
- The Marksmen do have a few experienced players signed to play this season, and they are going to be crucial to the success of the team. Veteran sniper Jake Hauswirth is returning after leading the SPHL in goals scored last season and will be a big part of the success of the Marksmen on the power play. Also, veteran grinder Kyle McNeil returns to Fayetteville after playing for both the Huntsville Havoc and the Knoxville Ice Bears the last two seasons. McNeil will provide leadership and some grit to the group of forwards.
- The goalie position is always important at any level of hockey. Gone to the Pensacola Ice Flyers is reigning league MVP and goalie of the year Sean Bonar. Tyler Green, Bonar’s back-up for the latter part of last season, is also no longer with the team after he was traded to the Mississippi RiverKings. Enter into the mix Peter Di Salvo and Matt Zenzola to be the 1-2 combination in net this season for the Marksmen. Both goalies bring experience and success to the team, and it will be a fun battle to watch in training camp to see who wins the starting job. Regardless, the goalie position will be relied upon heavily by the Marksmen to solidify their team defense.
- The Marksmen do have a couple of exciting newcomers that will need to provide some offensive punch this season. Speedy forward Massimo Lamacchia was acquired by the Marksmen from the Ice Flyers in the trade that sent Bonar to Pensacola. Also, skilled forward John Schiavo should help fill the void on offense and is a player to watch this season.
- The defense will be anchored by the returning Sean Robertson and Brad Campagna. Also, Brad Bourke, acquired in the same deal as Lamacchia, will be a vital cog on defense.
- Expect many more changes to the training camp roster as cuts are made from the ECHL and Coach Mazz and Director of Hockey Operations Ryan Cruthers use their ECHL connections to add talent to the team. Maybe more so than any other season in the last few years, the opening night roster is as much up for grabs as it ever has been in Fayetteville. Outside of a few guarantees, Coach Mazz will have his work cut out for him evaluating the talent and making cuts this training camp as well as adding new players.
Here is a list of current players scheduled to be in training camp for the Marksmen. Of course, this is just a preliminary list and will constantly change as players come and go almost daily during training camp.
Brad Bourke (ECHL)
Peter Di Salvo