As Trevor Lewis began preparing for his senior season and his first as captain of the Robert Morris men's ice hockey team, some familiar faces were absent from the team's locker room at the Island Sports Center.
Nathan Longpre, the team's leading scorer, was off in Vancouver, plying his trade as a member of the Canucks' NHL camp. Denny Urban, the team's second-leading scorer and primary power play weapon, was doing the same, only he joined former Colonial Dave Cowan in Toronto, working away in the Toronto Maple Leaf's preseason camp.
Yes, Lewis is part of the new guard at Robert Morris. With Longpre, Urban, and Chris Kushneriuk lost to graduation, Lewis is now the captain. After scoring 10 goals and tallying 16 points in 35 games as a junior, he knows it's upon him to try and fill the net more this year.
"For me personally, I knew I had to step up and be one of the main guys who gets points on the team. I'm comfortable with that role," Lewis said. "I think with everyone else, you're not going to replace 40 points a year from both players. So if we can have guys just pitch in and contribute a little more than they have the last couple years, I think we'll be able to make it up."
Lewis has help. Forward Adam Brace has stepped into Urban's role manning the point on the power play along with defenseman Andrew Blazek, who also spent time with the Pittsburgh Penguins' prospect camp. Ron Cramer is also back, as are several other players moving into larger roles
But the pressure is on Lewis to produce more, and while he's always been more of a pass-first winger, he's been asked to have a faster trigger on his shot this year.
"Most of my career, I've been more of a dish-man first. I like to set people up," Lewis said. "I've been encouraged by coaches to shoot a lot more and not pass up as many shots, because we will need some goals. I'm confident in my ability to do that, so I think it's just something I have to keep working on in practice and just keep shooting the puck."
As the season goes along, it may not be so much the number of goals or points Lewis contributes, but when he contributes them. Head coach Derek Schooley praised Lewis' hockey IQ, as well as Lewis' ability to be in the right spot at the right time.
"He's a guy that we look to in situations to be a guy that can put a team on his back. He was the best player in the game against Colgate," Schooley said. "There's some people who, if they can step up and do the job to complement him, I think that'll be a good thing."
Whether he's conscious of it or not, Lewis has become more of a goal-scorer as his Robert Morris career has progressed. He led the EJHL in goals and assists (31-36) in his final junior season before arriving at Robert Morris. He was the program's rookie of the year, scoring seven goals and 17 points as a freshman.
And after scoring just five goals as a sophomore, he had more goals than assists for the first as a collegian last year.
But just for insurance, Lewis has spoken with a few players who know a little bit about being the primary point-producer for Robert Morris.
"Definitely. I talk to guys like (Longpre) and Denny all the time, just the little things they do that make them so successful," Lewis said. "You just get little pointers and believe in yourself and all the off-ice stuff we do to get ready."
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.