Influx of young talent breeds success for boys hockey team
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The boys varsity hockey team gathers in a tight group at the center of the rink. The huddle holds for a moment for a few words. The team, consisting largely of freshmen and sophomores, discusses strengths and weaknesses of the practice as well as future games. A collective cry of “One, two, three, Warriors!” rings out just as the zamboni enters the rink, marking the end of practice.
The boys varsity hockey team may have moved down to Division II, and may have a young player profile this year, but the team has high hopes for the 2013-14 season.
Head Coach Steve Trundle said that this year, the team has a higher percentage of freshmen and sophomores than usual, partly because of increased skill and talent in younger players.
“We’ve gotten better every year,” Trundle said. “And I think that out of the five years I’ve been here, maybe not at the pace that everybody would like, but we have seen some progress in our level of play and in our overall talent that we have. Again, we’re starting to get some players out of the youth program that have played a lot of hockey themselves, and have what we call a good hockey IQ, so that’s a positive effect.”
Sophomore Josh Russo said that their young team is mature in seriousness.
“In the locker room, you would think the kids would be a lot less focused, but they’re actually more focused,” Russo said. “Kids in the past haven’t prepared well for games, but I think we’re getting better at that.”
Senior Jake Paul, a co-captain, said that although the team has started the season with a conference record of 2-2-2 and a total record of 2-12-2 as of Feb. 11, the schedule will become easier and there is a likelihood of doing better as the season progresses.
“This year, we were able to execute some new plays we weren’t able to last year with more consistency, which is a big thing,” Paul said.
Paul also said that the additional skating and conditioning this year is keeping the team in good shape.
Junior CJ Greenstein, who has played on the team for three years, said that the defense is younger, with two freshmen and a sophomore. Greenstein says he sees potential for the defense to be better.
Russo said the team may see improvement as it grows larger in the future.
“We have a much larger program because there are something like 13 new players playing JV this year, which is a lot more than in the past,” Russo said. “Hopefully they’ll come to the varsity high school team next year, and then we’ll have a much much bigger team.”
Greenstein also said that he thinks that the team has a chance at qualifying for the Division II Tournament.
“I would say this year we are a lot more competitive,” Greenstein said. “We’ve got a lot more talent, and we also play teams that are sort of easier because we used to be in DI and we were playing top-tier teams, and now we’re playing more low-level teams.”
Paul said that this year, there were more fans than usual during games.
“For every home game this year, we’ve solidly pulled in 20, 30 more kids than we usually did last year,” he said.
Trundle said there are some positive aspects of playing Division II, including the chance to go to the postseason.
“I think that’s a goal for every team,” Trundle said. “That’s our goal. No matter how we do, we don’t care, we just want to get there.”
Lizzy Filine can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.