Despite their rocky start to the season, the men’s hockey team has kept morale high and worked hard in practice in order to do well for the rest of the year.
They kicked off the season with a win against Hamline University with a score of 2-0 and continued to win against Concordia the following day with a score of 5-1.
On their November 2 game the team suffered a loss against UW Stevens Point, but redeemed themselves the next day during their game against Saint Norbert’s College.
After losing to Bethel and Saint Thomas, the Gustavus men’s team dropped to 3-4-0 overall and 0-3-0 in the MIAC. Fortunately, things began to change for the better after they tied with Amherst College and won against Williams College and Augsburg College.
“A week ago, I would have said it has been tough and that we are struggling to get some chemistry going between the new team. As of last week and this week I think we got a glimpse of what we could have if we all come together and ‘buy in’ to what coach is coaching us. I think we are only going to get better,” Sophomore Jack Walsh said.
Because the team has begun to perform better and got back into their usual habit of winning games, this optimistic attitude is commonplace amongst the team.
“The guys are feeling good and I think we’re getting back on track. It’s a good feeling knowing that we’re setting ourselves up
for a successful rest of the season,” Sophomore Defenseman Nate Paulsen said.
The season has created a new kind of bond between the members of the team. The players are improving this year, and great potential is beginning to shine through.
“I think that we have come together more strongly as a team in the last week especially during our trip to Boston than we have all year. It was the first weekend we played well in both the Friday and Saturday game. This gave us a glimpse of what we have and how great we could be if we use it,” Walsh said.
The last three games the men have competed in have shown that the team can turn their season around. The men still have enough time to make this season successful, just as last year’s was.
“We are off to a rough start in league play but it’s early enough where we can still turn it around. Our team is coming together, and we are a very close team off the ice and I feel we are headed in the right direction with the same goals in mind,” Senior Ryan Johnson said.
“After seeing how we can play in the last two weeks, the sky could be the limit. It is just key that we continue to work hard every day and strive to get better,” Sophomore Patrick Sullivan said.
With a lot of great teams competing against Gustavus, the team is focused on tackling one game at a time. The league is extremely competitive, and Saint Thomas has shown the most potential.
“This biggest competition this year is once again Saint Thomas. But, in all honesty anyone can beat anyone in our league on any given night. As coach Petersen says, ‘That’s just the parody of our sport,’” Walsh said.
Along with the tough competition, the men’s hockey team faced additional challenges in the form of several major injuries at the beginning of the season.
“One of the hardest obstacles that the team has faced this year was playing with injured players in almost every game. Since the season started, we’ve had 7 bad injuries, which really threw off our game,” Paulsen said.
However, with a great coaching staff and high working athletes, there is no reason that the hockey team will complete this year’s season on a bad note.
“We got a new assistant coach this year he has been great. Marty is really helping with our offensive game. Coach P is a great coach and has been doing a great job for years. We have a great senior class and they are leading the way and setting a great example for younger players,” Sophomore Tyler Lapic said.
The team has appreciation for their teammates on and off the ice. The relationship between the athletes is what strengthens the team as a whole. The leadership on the team is a strong influence, as well as the cooperation of the other players.
“We also have a great set of captains who lead on and off the ice and they really work hard to set the tone for the rest of the guys, these guys are also some of the seniors the younger guys like me play for every night. I am just very glad and thankful for the opportunity to play with such a great group of guys and play for a terrific coaching staff like we have here at Gustavus,” Sullivan said.
The Gusties believe that they are just as good, if not better, than the teams they have been competing against. The athletes have been keeping their focus on achieving their common goals.
“Our team goals are to win the conference, the conference playoff, and the national championship. We put ourselves in a bit of a hole early in conference play, but I believe we have what it takes to get ourselves out of it. We have had our mental lapses, but overall we have been getting after our goals. We are a very close team, and we work very well together,”
Senior Captain Tim LaBombard said.