Point Spread

 

High-scoring trio breaks 300-point mark, powers Mules to top of NESCAC

By Travis Lazarczyk
Photography by Tom Bollier '11
 

TJ Kelley ’08, Arthur Fritch ’08, and Josh Reber ’08
From left, TJ Kelley ’08, Arthur Fritch ’08, and Josh Reber ’08.  Photo by Tom Bollier ’11.
If you’re a college ice hockey coach, you hope you have at least one player every couple of recruiting classes who can get you 100 points during a four-year career. If you get two in a class, you are blessed.

If you get three? Well then, you had better enjoy every second.

Colby men’s head coach Jim Tortorella had just that embarrassment of riches this season. Senior forwards Josh Reber and TJ Kelley and senior defenseman Arthur Fritch each passed the 100-point mark this year. All three were first-team All-NESCAC, making up half of that all-star squad.

“All three of them are different. Rebes is an assist guy, TJ is a goal scorer, Arthur is a little bit of both,” Tortorella said.

The potent offensive trio, backed by freshman goalie Cody McKinney, who posted NESCAC’s best save percentage, helped power the Mules (15-9-1) to end the regular season in first place in NESCAC. Colby fell 2-1 to eventual champion Trinity in the conference tournament semifinals at Colby March 9.

Kelley was named NESCAC Player of the Year, ending his Colby career with 56 goals and 70 assists for 126 points and as the conference’s leading scorer this year. Reber, despite missing five games to an injury this season, finished with 34 goals and 99 assists for 133 points. Fritch had 32 goals and 84 assists for 116 points.

“If you think of it, and you look at the history of the program and the amount of hundred-point guys we’ve had ... to have three in the same class is a tribute to those guys,” said Tortorella, who was NESCAC Coach of the Year. “They were special players coming in, and they’ve really done well in trying to develop their skills.”

The last time Colby had two players in the same class reach the 100-point mark was when Dan Lavergne ’97 and Nick Lamia ’97 did it.

“Up until last year, when it became a realistic goal, it never really crossed my mind,” said Reber, who became the first to hit the 100-point mark, with a goal in a 5-2 win Nov. 30 against Skidmore.

Kelley hit the century mark with an assist in Colby’s 4-2 win against Curry Jan. 8, and Fritch joined his teammates with a goal in a 3-2 loss to New England College Jan. 12.

“After our first year, we each had a pretty decent number of points, and it just kind of went from there,” said Fritch, who was a first-team All-America selection last season. “After last season, you kind of had it in your mind that [100 points] was reachable.”

“I don’t think each of us would have been able to do it all by ourselves. It’s all about the guys you play with,” Kelley said.

Kelley and Reber were on the same team at the Taft School but didn’t play on the same line until their freshman season at Colby.

Josh Reber ’08
Josh Reber ’08 gains control of the puck during a 3-1 win over Bowdoin. Photo by Jeff Earickson.
“When TJ and Rebes came, it was kind of an instant connection,” Tortorella said. “I have to separate them in practice sometimes. It’s like, ‘You can make other guys better by playing with them and developing their skills,’ but they always want to be together. They just kind of know where the other is.”

Added Kelley: “We feed off each other. (Reber) loves to pass the puck. I like to shoot the puck.”

Five of Fritch’s nine goals this season came on the power play, where the 6-foot-3, 215-pound blue liner could unleash his strong slapshot from the point.

“I basically take feeds from my defensive partner, and hopefully it hits the net,” Fritch said. “If not, these guys [Reber and Kelley] will hit in for a rebound. These guys are pretty impressive to play with, and we just try to have a lot of fun out there.”

A version of this story first appeared in the Waterville Morning Sentinel. It is printed here with permission.

 
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