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Hampton enters season with new challenges

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
Hampton's Eric Leya (4) and Ryan Hornung break down the ice during their game against Gateway on October 29, 2012, at the Ice Connection in Valencia. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Hampton's Zach Kosic (11) tries to maintain possession of the puck as Gateway's Ryan Taylor defends during their game October 29, 2012, at the Ice Connection in Valencia. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Hampton's Eric Leya (4) carries the puck into the corner while being trailed by Gateway's Zach Dusch during their game October 29, 2012, at the Ice Connection in Valencia. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Hampton's Ethan Homitz (6) races down the ice with the puck as Gateway's Branden Dusch gives chase during their game October 29, 2012, at the Ice Connection in Valencia. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA

A new hockey season often comes with its own set of challenges. That's certainly true for the Hampton Talbots, who enter a new season playing in a new classification with a new head coach.

Hampton has moved up to compete in the Class AA level after playing previously in

Class A.

“It sounds like a lot but I don't think we're too daunted by that,” said senior defenseman and captain Andrew Coyle.

New head coach Anthony Scolieri, who was an assistant coach at Hampton the past two seasons, is highly respected by the players.

“He's a very smart guy on and off the ice,” said junior goaltender Cameron Raidna.

Scolieri took over the team shortly after the end of last season and the transition has been a smooth one.

“The biggest change is becoming more defensive-minded,” said Raidna.

That's because Scolieri has stressed that he wants his players to commit to team defense.

“Keeping the puck out of the net is the top priority and goals will come after that,” he said.

This year's team is young, and lack of depth is an issue. There are only four seniors on the roster, with most of the players coming from the sophomore class.

“We have a good crop of young talent. They just need to be attuned to the varsity game,” Scolieri said.

Hampton lost two of last season's offensive leaders in Ian Wood and Luke Leya, adding to the team's goal-scoring concerns.

“I think we're going to struggle to score goals, but we're going to lean heavily on our backbone, (which) is our goaltender,” Scolieri said.

Raidna said he is more than happy to shoulder that burden.

“I love the pressure. I love being the last line of defense, making sure my team stays in the game.” Raidna said. “The pressure gets to me sometimes but that's what I live for and that's why I play the game.”

Being a first-year head coach in a new classification also poses some problems for Scolieri.

“It's new territory,” Scolieri said. “I don't really have a scouting report on many of the teams in AA.”

The Talbots are excited about the change and are looking forward to the tougher level of competition.

“You just have to play to your potential and work hard,” said junior center Zack Kosick.

Rather than sitting back and attempting to adjust to an opponent's style of play, Hampton hopes to dictate how the games are played.

“We just go in and play our game and try to make them play our game,” Coyle said. “We want to set the tone early, hopefully.”

In the opening game of the season, Hampton made a strong statement, beating Gateway, 12-2, on Oct. 29.

“It was an encouraging game. I thought we played disciplined, defensive hockey and capitalized on our scoring chances,” Scolieri said. “We still have some things to work on, but, all in all, it was a good effort and something for us to build on for the future.”

With all of the changes that have taken place, Hampton entered the season as an underdog that is not expected to have success in its first year in Class AA. The Talbots are not letting that stop them.

“Our expectations are the same,” Scolieri said. “Win the division, go to the playoffs and we want to win it all.”

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