Johns Hopkins has one of the toughest season openers of the weekend when Ohio State, the reigning Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament champion and a NCAA tournament quarterfinalist last spring, visits Homewood Field on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. And the Blue Jays could enter the matchup at less than 100 percent.
Junior defenseman Rob Enright and junior faceoff specialist Drew Kennedy are dealing with ailments that coach Dave Pietramala declined to disclose Thursday morning. Pietramala called Enright, who is poised to join senior Jack Reilly as a starter, “day by day” and said that Kennedy, who is expected to success Mike Poppleton as the primary faceoff specialist, “is a decision that will be made by the medical staff.”
The most pressing matter is faceoffs. Kennedy won 54.4 percent (37-of-68) of his draws and collected 18 ground balls last season. If Kennedy is unable to play, his replacements are sophomore Craig Madarasz, who took just nine faceoffs last year, winning four, and freshmen Kevin O’Toole and Matt Ledwin.
“That’s an area of obvious concern,” Pietramala said. “We feel like we’ve got people there that have performed well in practice, but quite frankly, we’d like to see greater production in that area. I do think that our personnel is capable, but nonetheless, the bottom line is at that position, you either win a faceoff or you lose it, and we have had a tremendous opportunity to get some great work for the other guys in the program. We think that’s an area that we need improvement.”
If Enright is unavailable, junior John Kelly and freshman Nick Fields could start along with Reilly. Sophomore Eddie Morris could also see extended playing time.
Like any other coach, Pietramala would prefer to open the season with a full and healthy roster at his disposal. But he also said that the coaching staff got a chance to assess other players during preseason scrimmages.
“You get an opportunity to play everybody or as many as you want,” Pietramala said. “You can play different combinations of people. You get to experiment and evaluate. What we’ve been able to do through our scrimmages because a couple guys haven’t been there is, we’ve been able to look at some other guys and those other players have been able to gain valuable scrimmage time and valuable playing experience. We’ve gotten to see them in specific combinations and we’ve gotten to see them in specific roles and we’ve been able to evaluate them. Are they a guy that can contribute? Are they a guy that can contribute as a starter? So we have been able to do that with all of these guys, not just the guys that are replacing someone that may not be playing or may not be scrimmaging.”