By Howard Kim, Co-Sports Editor When four players graduated from the varsity boys’ hockey team last year, the remaining players were left wondering who their replacements would be and how the team would fare with its new additions. The underclassmen’s response? One of the best season starts in the team’s history. This season, the boys’...
By Howard Kim, Co-Sports Editor
When four players graduated from the varsity boys’ hockey team last year, the remaining players were left wondering who their replacements would be and how the team would fare with its new additions. The underclassmen’s response? One of the best season starts in the team’s history.
This season, the boys’ hockey team needed strong talent to fill those four holes in their roster, and they found that and more in eight underclassmen. Seven freshmen and a sophomore have brought new vitality and synergy to the squad both on the ice and in the locker room. This team chemistry has resulted in a seven win streak to start off the season with the three new starters picking up right where their senior predecessors left off, adding their considerable skill and energy to the team.
“The vibe in the locker room before every game is just so uplifting and so upbeat that it’s hard to get them to calm down before games,” said Ross Hyatt, the team’s head coach. “I think the biggest key to a successful team is what they do together off the ice…and this whole team seems to thrive together.”
Another more unexpected factor that played into the team’s chemistry is time. Three years ago, Hyatt first got the job as head coach of the boys’ varsity and JV hockey teams and began building a rapport with the players. The freshmen he bonded with that year are now seniors, and the whole roster is completely in sync with Hyatt’s style, allowing the team to fully reap the benefits of having a capable batch of newcomers.
“I usually don’t see very confident underclassmen, which usually inhibits them from playing well, but every single one of this year’s freshmen has a confidence in their game,” Hyatt said. “They know they belong on the ice with everyone else and that they can make mistakes because they have strong upperclassmen who have their back.”
Most of the freshmen had never played hockey with the varsity level of physicality before and faster pacing while veteran athletes are more mentally and physically adjusted to that manner of play. Getting accustomed to full check hockey and its faster, more aggressive nature is a crucial component of making the newcomers feel more comfortable on the ice and in the team, and the returning players have made a point of it to ensure that happened.
“A lot of the freshmen and I thought this adjustment would be very tough, and the upperclassmen have helped us ease into (the varsity level) a lot,” freshman center Shane Keller said. “They’ve been doing a great job helping us out at practices by running over plays and techniques twice to make sure we fully understand them.”
These moments of guidance during play and banter outside of the sport have helped the team forge new bonds as friends and teammates, and it is reflected in their success so far. The squad started their season with a crushing 8-1 win over Ridley and followed it up with another dominant 7-1 game against Garnet Valley. They kept up the momentum with win after win and currently sit at second place in the Central League with a 7-1 record.
“This season is going to be a core memory for me. I’m going to enjoy ending on this high note,” Jim Rosenblum, a senior defenseman, said. “Our hockey team is pretty good, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Howard Kim can be reached at [email protected]
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