The Fayetteville FireAntz enter the 2012-13 season with high expectations and are very optimistic about the upcoming season. They have a new head coach, a new assistant coach and a group of dynamic new players that fans are sure to get excited about.
Head Coach Mark DeSantis, 40, makes his debut behind the bench for the FireAntz this season. For the last three seasons DeSantis was the assistant coach for the Rapid City Rush of the Central Hockey League and brings a wealth of experience to the FireAntz. During his playing career DeSantis, a defenseman, played 17 professional seasons and scored 131 goals, with 398 as-sists and tallied 2,108 penalty minutes.
“We are thrilled to have Mark DeSantis as the head coach of our team,” said President/ General Manager Kevin MacNaught. “His attention to detail and commitment to helping us build a championship team were very im-portant qualities that I was looking for when choosing a coach and Mark was the obvious choice.”
Assistant Coach Sean Edwards, 33, also in his first year coaching the FireAntz, played five professional seasons. The University of Ottawa’s most successful cam-paign was in 2004-05 where he notched 15 goals, 22 assists and 87 penalty min-utes in 51 games played. He also was +21 that season.“We are very optimistic about our chances for the upcoming year,” Edwards said. “Coach DeSantis recruited guys with really good character. Along with that we have guys that have a lot of speed and a lot of skill. We’re going to be really fun to watch and have a good chance to win night in and night out.”
Players to Watch
Bobby Reed, Center — Reed is the longest tenured player for the FireAntz, beginning his fourth season with the club. Reed, always considered a leader on and off the ice has been named Captain by DeSantis and is looking to have an-other great season for the club. The Huntsville, Ontario native has increased his scoring output each season with the FireAntz and last season had 40 points in 56 games played.
Josh McQuade, Right Wing — McQuade enters his second professional season, both with the FireAntz, and looks to continue the stellar play that he displayed in his rookie campaign. Last year he averaged just shy of a point per game totaling 22 goals and 26 assists for 48 points in 52 games played. He also notched four goals and an assist in the FireAntz 6-3 victory in the pre-season win over the Augusta Riverhawks.
Andrew Smale, Defenseman — Smale will play his first season with the FireAntz in 2012-13. The 6’4’’, 220 pound defenseman will provide great size, a swift skating ability and leadership on the blue line for the team this season. “Smale will be one of our key defense-men this season.” Assistant Coach Edwards said, “He will log a lot of minutes for us and we’re looking for really big things from Smale this year.”
Marco Emond, Goaltender — Emond begins his first year man-ning the net for the FireAntz this season. The 34 year old goaltender brings a wealth of experience to the team, having played professionally since 1998. With over 200 professional wins and a save percentage over .900 for his career.
Brandon Richardson, Forward — Richardson enters his second professional hockey season and first with the FireAntz. Fans may remember him from the Huntsville Havoc, last season, where he netted 13 goals in 26 games before get-ting called up to the Bloomington Blaze of the Central Hockey League (CHL.) “Brandon is one of our most versatile guys, he can play all three forward posi-tions.” Edwards added, “He’s definitely a goal scorer who has great speed and a great shot.”
Brock Sawyer, Defense — Sawyer is a rookie defenseman for the FireAntz, hav-ing recently graduated from Elmira College in New York. “Brock is an offensive defenseman who plays smartly with and without the puck.” Edwards continued, “The maturity that this guys possesses, for a rookie, is remarkable. He carries him-self like a veteran and we are really happy to have him on our team.”
With a new coach, a new assistant coach and an extremely talented roster the FireAntz are ready for an outstanding year in 2012-13. Make sure to come out to the Crown Coliseum and join in on the exciting season for the FireAntz this year. For more information on the FireAntz, or to purchase group tickets at a reduced rate visit the FireAntz Website at www.fireantzhockey.com