FAYETTEVILLE, NC — Last season, then-coach Jeff Bes made a flurry of roster moves after the Fayetteville FireAntz got off to a slow start. Fast forward to this season, and the Fayetteville Marksmen have gotten off to a similarly slow start.
The story reads a little differently this season, however, as first-year coach Nick Mazzolini failed to make the necessary moves to right the ship and found himself out of a job after an inauspicious record of 4-7-2. Enter coach Phil Esposito and enter change.
After seeing his new team go 0-2-1 while behind the bench over the last three games, Esposito has seen enough and here come the roster moves.
To start, Esposito has traded D Cody Walsh and F Shane Bennett to the Mississippi Riverkings for F Jamie Hill. Bennet had amassed 11 pts for the Marksmen so far this season while Walsh has scored four4 points and a -4 rating on the blueline. The Marksmen are getting a rookie forward in Hill who has scored one goal and two assists in 13 games with both Macon and Mississippi.
When analyzing this trade, it seems the Riverkings got the better end of this deal. While there is more to a deal than just stats and numbers on paper, perhaps Esposito might just know something we don’t. Locker room chemistry and other things factor into trades, so we shall see how this plays out for the Marksmen and Esposito’s first big move as coach.
In another move, the Marksmen received G Kent Patterson from the Pensacola Ice Flyers for future considerations. Patterson brings AHL and ECHL experience to the Marksmen and could very well take over the starting role right away. To make room, Esposito waived goalies Matt Zenzola and Michael Santaguida. Marksmen goalie Peter Di Salvo played in both games this past weekend and seemed to have risen to the top of the goalie depth chart under Esposito.
More moves are on the horizon for the Marksmen as they look to turn the tide and start a climb up the standings. While no team wants to have to shuffle a roster so much after a slow start, if history tells us anything, this could mean good things are ahead for the Marksmen and Esposito.
All you have to do is ask Marksmen Captain Jake Hauswirth, and he will tell you just how the season turned for the better last year when he arrived in that flurry of moves by Bes. Esposito is hoping for similar results this season.