JCU Hockey looks to defend their crown in the upcoming season


Kaitlyn Novicky

The 2022-2023 JCU Hockey team photo showcasing their lineup and predicted talent.

Jack O'Rourke, Staff Reporter

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Following a College Hockey Mid-America Tournament win and a bid to the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Tournament, all eyes in the CHMA are turned towards the John Carroll Blue Streaks. Despite losing a strong senior class, coach Scott Shantery’s team will return with the talent necessary to make another deep postseason run. A new era of Blue Streak hockey will commence following the graduation of leading goal scorer Jimmy Grable and top defensemen Brian Russell and Patrick Gilbert. 

Shantery returns a strong offensive attack which will be centered around the line of graduate student Max Wopperer, Sean Deakin ‘25 and Tyler Putnam ‘24. Wopperer will be the heart and soul of the Blue Streaks as captain of the team. 

“Wopps,” as he is affectionately known by his teammates, is a strong two-way player and has proved effective when placed between Deakin and Putnam. Deakin’s freshman campaign was highlight filled and resulted in him being awarded the CHMA Rookie of the Year Award. After a slow start to getting his feet wet, Putnam stormed out of the gates late in the season and could be the nucleus of Blue Streak scoring. Max Richter ‘24 and Ethan Miller ‘24 will return as a playmaking duo that produce awe-inspiring passes and bountiful results. Transfer student Chris Wracker will fill the shoes of Grable alongside Richter and Miller and should add physicality to the Blue Streaks’ forward group.

Shantery also has depth at the forward position which will be headlined by Adam Unruh ‘24. Unruh is a strong defensive center and is a strong pick for Breakout Forward of the Year. While Unruh garnered my vote, fellow juniors Tyler Lamark ‘24 and Matthew Pfeifer ‘24 are strong playmakers that seem ready and able to force themselves into bigger roles in their second seasons. Lamark played alongside Putnam in high school and produced 27 assists as a senior. Max & Mike Kirth-Gruszczynski ‘23 return and add size to the forward group with Max adding seven goals last season. Senior Matthew Commendatore is a crisp playmaker and adds grit. Charlie Mitchell, Sam Herr, Joe Primiano and Ethan McClain are all first year forwards that hope to make an impact.

Clay Gazdak ‘24 and Tristan Weigand ‘25 played big minutes in their first seasons on the blue line for the Streaks and should continue to grow into top-tier defensemen. Carlo Bertoni joins Wopperer as a graduate student and provides a solid foundation with his stalwart defense plays. Ryan Young ‘25 produced the most goals amongst returning defensemen and the “sheriff” will remain a top power play option. Payton Fogarty ‘25, who started playing defense late in high school, has rapidly improved and will have a strong year with more room to grow in the defensive group. Christian Olszewski ‘25 also will benefit from having tenure under his belt in his second season. Luke McNamara ‘24 will play defense to bolster the blue line and should succeed with his natural athleticism and long reach. While the defensive group is young, it will be very exciting to watch the potential turn to reality as the season progresses.

Graduate student Martin Moine returns following being named CHMA Playoff MVP as the Blue Streaks’ goaltender. Moine will be paired with Nate Cava ‘23, who had an excellent season with the Blue Streaks to form a “1A-1B” tandem that will split playing time. Alex Smat ‘23 has made strides in the offseason and will provide depth at the position. Perhaps the tallest option the Blue Streaks have, after a multi-year layoff from the sport, Andrew Sahatjian ‘24 has a year under his belt and gives Shantery a fourth option in net. 

The Blue Streaks have a strong, deep team that will be incredibly fun to watch. The schedule can be found here. The team’s effort to defend the CHMA begins Friday, Sept.16 in Dekalb, Illinois against Northern Illinois.