Club hockey ready for new season
As many hockey fans around Marist know, the owners of the NHL decided to lock out the players for the second time in eight years. The entire preseason has been cancelled, and all hope for a season is nearly gone.
The students should not fear, however. The Marist men's hockey team is ready to quench your thirst for the sport.
The blueprint is simple: With the combination of talented newcomers and upperclassmen production and leadership, the future has never looked brighter for the Red Foxes.
The team is coming off a season where they bowed out in the opening round of the Super East Collegiate Hockey League tournament after finishing with an overall record of 11-10-2 and a 5-7-2 record in conference. The experience of getting through last season's tribulations has helped prepare this season's group to be more mentally focused than ever before.
Head Coach Bob Simmons, who has been coaching at Marist for 14 years, believes the mantra for his team is to approach every scenario with the same style of aggression and energy level every game.
"We're looking for guys that want to put their team first. I want practices to be as much like games as possible, and that includes doing things on the ice with a purpose," Coach Simmons said. "I want the same level of intensity game in and game out, practice in and practice out."
Coach Steve Williams, a former Marist player in his third year on staff, has seen both ends of the spectrum.
"We want to take it hard to the opponent, play aggressive in our offensive zone and have an aggressive penalty kill. We don't want other teams setting up their scheme," Williams said. "That's the way Marist has always played: play hard and take the body."
Along with the coaching staff, team captains Chris Cerbino and Pat Erstling want to make sure that their impact is not only felt in the box score, but in the locker room as well.
"I want to be able to win our league. It's a good league, and it's one of the better leagues out there," Cerbino said. "All the games are really competitive, with high intensity and fast pace. We [Pat and I] have to be the mature, lead-by-example guys."
Erstling echoed Cerbino's message of leading by example.
"I just go out there and try and lead by example, working hard in practice and in games. Throwing the body, playing unselfish hockey, and the guys feed off that," Erstling said. "I don't care about personal stats, I just want to win."
Other players are looking to make contributions to the team any way they can.
As a freshman last season, forward Tom McGuire was converted to defenseman. This season, McGuire figures to play a more prominent role on offense as he shifts back to the position he played in high school.
"I think we had nine defensemen before I switched and I played offense my whole life before I came here, so I'd be the easiest one to move up," McGuire said.
Coach Williams understands the dedication and hard-nosed approach to the game, but also believes that in order to be successful, a team must be able to have fun.
"We take it very serious, but we like to have fun. It's all about having fun; we want to win and you're going to have fun if you win," Williams said. "Our goal is the same as every year: to get to the national tournament."
The culture in the locker room has shifted with the addition of new players, and with that change has come a rejuvenated feeling of optimism among the coaching staff and players.
"This year I feel like we have really good chemistry; everybody likes each other, everybody hangs out with everyone. It's been a lot of fun," Krulikowski said.
The question of who will start on net for the Red Foxes has yet to be answered. As of right now, there are three goalies capable of grabbing the spot: sophomores Cody Capps and Tom Dorsey and junior Zach Gomiela.
"It's a good problem to have," Coach Simmons said of the goalie situation.
The team plays their home games at the McCann Ice Arena at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. Attendance is free for Marist students.
"It's close to the campus, it's easy for students to get here and they're going to see a good product," Williams said. "We have Saturday home slots at 4:15 p.m. It is a great way for the student body to come out and support a team on campus."
So, as the fall semester rolls on and your favorite team isn't there to fill those strong hockey desires, there happens to be a pretty good team here in Poughkeepsie just waiting to take their place.
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