The record of the Niagara Purple Eagles showed a team that wanted a better result. Head Coach Jason Lammers talked about his team’s need to get better in net, and to improve his depth at the forward and defense ranks. That did not mean that the team had some positives from a tough year. The group had a lead on the Wolverines, went into Notre Dame and beat them, and played league champion AIC tough in the regular-season finale. Lammers said that the season left a “fire that is created in our bellies going forward.” The group just finished spring testing and is heading into an offseason where Lammers is looking to utilize the transfer portal more than he already has, and add to his smaller class of incoming freshman with players looking for homes next season. As Lammers said, “We’re very excited about the skill level we have moving forward.”
On the results “it just shows our guys how close we are, we didn’t love our year in the end but we played some really great teams, I think those games should show those guys how close we are.”
On his two skater transfers, Lammers talked about how long he has seen Lucas Bahn play. From his time back at UMASS-Lowell seeing Bahn play hockey before his junior hockey career, to last year when Lammers offered him a spot, to now, he’s had nothing but good things to say about Bahn. On the ice, he brings a cerebral game that should set up the skill of Niagara and make those around him better. Bahn projects to potentially be a top-two defender for Lammers with the ability to eat vast sums of minutes.
Off the ice, Bahn is uncommon, which is the singular word around which Niagara Hockey is built. He stuck with the Chargers after the first program suspension and helped lead a young team through a tough but building year. Bahn could have been on a Niagara team that had a lead on AIC in the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals. He decided to stay. Bahn stayed in Huntsville this year but thanks to his family and the facilities he was able to use maintained his shape and should hit the ground running this season. Every time Bahn has done things with a strong belief in himself that he shows it has paid dividends for him, and that does not expect to change. As Lammers summed up, Bahn defines “uncommon and what we are looking for in our people here as a player he is the definition of a modern defenseman.”
The other skater he has added so far is speedy forward from Boston College , Casey Carreau. Lammers loves the speed he brings, and Carreau brings depth to the group up front to help bring what Lammers is trying to build to life.
In net, Lammers announced that the team is getting Ryan Ouellette from Wisconsin Eau Clare. The star goalie and former Lincoln Star comes to Niagara with three years of eligibility and gives Lammers three solid choices in net every night. Goaltending, along with depth are the two areas for improvement that Lammers talked about and Ryan in net, combined with the two skaters up front is a start. The work is not done for Lammers and his staff, and they are ready to move forward.
As for some non conference opponents, once again Lammers has a challenging schedule for his group. The team will face NCHC foes Nebraska Omaha and Miami (Ohio) on the road, playing two games against each team. They will face Colgate at home, and play St.Lawrence in a home and home series. To build his program, Lammers uses money from the series that they are paid to go play to build the student athlete experience. Things like updating the weight room, and adding other amenities to the program are where that money goes.
After getting back from the Coaches meetings in Florida, Lammers also took the time to echo a sentiment that is growing in Atlantic Hockey ranks. While he is looking forward to seeing Robert Morris back on the ice in two years in his league, and wants all new teams and teams needing a home to find a conference he is a bit upset with how the sport is handling things. As Lammers said, “it’s frustating to me that all these other leagues want to see our league take on all these programs.” On how expansion is being handled with finding these teams new homes he said the following while being supportive of getting as many teams and schools to this great sport as possible “I’m disappointed in the greater body of college hockey.”
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