A year ago, the men’s hockey team was far from exceeding the expectations surrounding the squad during the preseason. At 2-14-8, with a 2-9-7 record in the NESCAC, the team certainly anticipated producing better results on the ice. In last season’s 24 games, the team mustered only 52 goals, a mark they will look to improve upon this year. The team’s only wins came against Conn College on the road and against Amherst at home.
“Our goal this year is to not dwell on the past and understand that the DNA of our team is much different now than ever before,” said captain Robby Harbison ’17. “In order to find success this year, each member of the team has to challenge himself, as well as those to his left and right, on a daily basis to improve as a hockey player and a teammate. Our team motto is ‘Iron Sharpens Iron,’ and the implication with that is by holding each other accountable, having laser-like focus, and taking pride in our competition level, we will improve each day and ultimately win a NESCAC Championship.”
“The fact is we didn’t score enough goals,” Jordan Jancze ’18 said. “There were plenty of close games where another bounce or two changes the complexion of our season. Our coaching staff has done a great job in bringing in new talent who we’re excited to see in their freshman campaign. We’ve placed an emphasis in practice on getting to the net and burying the biscuit whenever you have an opportunity. I don’t think Dawson [Sprigings ’17] likes it but I know it’s good for the group.”
This year, the team welcomes back seniors Harbison, James Kline, Cole Morrissette, Quincy Oujevolk, Sprigings, and Danny Weiss. Kline and Harbison will lead the team as captains, while Sprigings will serve as the main man in net for this Cardinal squad. Morrissette and Oujevolk will look to contribute to the Wesleyan forward group, while Weiss will replace Sprigings in net at times.
“I sincerely would not want to spend my last season of collegiate hockey with any other group of players,” Harbison said. “The dedication each member of our team has displayed throughout the fall and into the first few weeks of the season is impressive and speaks to our character. With James and I both serving as alternate captains as juniors last year, we bring a great deal of leadership experience to the locker room each day. We’ve had countless conversations over the past couple years about how we can improve as hockey players, team leaders, and members of the community. He and I are from the same town and have been great friends for close to 10 years, so the level of honesty and the standard of professionalism we aim to achieve creates a great culture for our program and among our leadership group. The example we, as well as the other members of the senior class, are setting is paving the way for the program this year and in the future.”
Kline led the team in both goals and points a year ago, finding the back of the net 12 times en route to a 17-point campaign. Jancze had a great season for the Red Birds as well, contributing four goals and seven assists in 23 games. The team will miss the production of the departed senior class, including Jay Matthews ’16, who scored eight goals a year ago in addition to adding five assists. Alex Carlacci ’16’s 11-point effort will also be missed. Coming off the disappointment of last season, this year’s squad has high hopes for this year’s campaign.
In addition to the veterans, Jancze expects underclassmen to contribute significantly of this year’s squad.
“Watch out for Walker Harris ’20,” he said. “He’s going to be fun to watch. The classes of ’19 and ’20 are going to make an impact for us every night. They already have important roles and already know how much work it takes to be successful in this league. Our senior class has been through the highs and lows of the past few years and know what it takes to lead. Those guys are exemplary role models and have a rare work ethic that makes everyone want elevate their game.”
The team opens its season next Friday with a matchup on the road against Conn, before traveling to Medford, Mass. on Saturday for a matinee affair vs. the Tufts Jumbos. The team is excited for their season to begin.
“There is a huge amount of positivity and confidence in the locker room and on the ice this year,” Harbison said. “In competitive, collegiate sports, carrying a chip on your shoulder is essential for success, and we have that this year more than ever before. Our forwards are fast, skilled, and high energy, our defensemen are mobile, hard to play against, and puck moving, and our goalies are impressive, while displaying a huge amount of consistency. The first weekend of the season is slated with two NESCAC games and will prove a strong test for us, one that we are ready to dominate.”
“The best part about a new season is that you get to wipe the slate clean and start over,” Jancze said. “I’m excited to start a new year with a great group of guys and share the experience with them. We’re going to surprise a lot of people.”