WNY Athletics

Lockport Looking to Rebound

After a disappointing 2015-16 campaign, the Lockport Lions boy’s hockey team has one word in mind for this upcoming season – redemption.

Winning just three of 18 games in a season that began with so much promise – Lockport was previously an annual playoff contender – was disappointing to coach Rick Eberhart and company, and wasn’t indicative of the type of talent and effort that was inside of the Lions’ locker room.

“Last year there were a lot of things that didn’t go our way, but I think that should change this year,” Eberhart said. “I’m really excited for this season. This is the best group of kids I’ve had here in a long time. No one is ever late for practice and everyone’s on the same page. It’s a very positive group, and those attributes can go a long way.”

Having lost just three seniors to graduation – John Ottaviano, the team’s captain from last season, forward Kellen Corrallo and goaltender Jack Igoe – the Lions have an advantage in chemistry heading into the 2016-17 season. 10 players are seniors and the rest are made up of a smorgasbord of upper and lower-classmen.

“Having a lot of guys who have come up through our program the last few years is a tremendous help for us,” Eberhart said. “You really don’t have to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. The kids know where to go, you tell them what to do once and they understand. It’s not like you have to teach them what the rules are, so it’s much easier to coach this team.” Senior forward Will Johnson concurred.

“We’ve got a good, young group and we’re just working hard every day to reach our goals,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of guys who have played together for a long time. You know where guys are going to be in certain situations and everyone can feed off of one another.”

The Lions come into the season relying on players like forwards Ryan Boci and Dylan Skalman and defensemen Brennan Bailey and Drew Gmerek to help carry them. They, along with numerous others, will look to help the Lions return to the postseason.

“I’m very happy with the group we’ve got,” Eberhart said. “We’ve got a really tight-knit group, and our defense corps is really strong. Our top three lines are good, but we need to find a good fourth line and we have to work on our conditioning. I think once we get into shape, we can get onto a roll.”

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