By Ezra Gennello, staff writer.
Every great sports team goes through a rebuild. The Golden State Warriors, Chicago Blackhawks and even the Boston Red Sox have gone through their own rebuilds before their current winning ways. That is what the Franklin Pierce University men’s ice hockey team went through this past offseason.
After a 7-18-1 (3-11-1 Northeast-10 Conference) record last season, head coach Shaun Millerick went on a recruiting spree, as he brought 13 freshmen onto the roster for the start of the 2018-19 season. Introducing so many new faces affects everyone in the locker room in many ways. From freshmen and sophomores battling to earn a spot, to juniors and seniors battling to keep their spot on the roster, 13 new faces can do a lot for a new team.
In a Media Monday interview, coach Millerick talked about the upperclassmen leaders on the team this year and how they have helped the new freshmen. During the interview, coach Millerick said “They’ve been outstanding straight from the get-go, greeting the new guys when they got on campus, taking them under their wing, and really showing them the ropes.”
The upperclassmen echoed the words of coach Millerick, pointing out how a well-rounded, happy locker room has developed while integrating the new faces. In an interview, senior captain Jack Williams said, “It’s a smooth transition, they’ve immediately bought into the philosophy we’ve been preaching.” The same was pointed out by junior alternate captain Alex Lester, who said, “We have a great group of guys and they make my job as a leader very easy.”
The upperclassmen aren’t the only ones happy with how the team is coming together thus far. Both freshman Sean Crowley and freshman Ryan Gorbett said the returners have been helpful on and off the ice. More specifically, Crowley said, “We have come together well as a group and I’m looking forward to what we can do this season.”
The team has come together in the preseason, but it’s time to battle for spots. Teams typically dress 12 forwards, six defensemen, and three goalies a game. On the roster, there are 16 forwards, 10 defensemen, and four goalies, so everyone knows they have to bring their A-game every day. Freshman goaltender Kyle Martin said the situation was a positive for the team: “Competition brings out the best in everyone, so I am excited for the opportunity ahead.” With such little room for mistake, the intensity in games and practices is at an all-time high.
When asked what their goal for the season was, every player had the same answer: an NE10 championship. A championship is a big goal, but the Ravens have shown signs of promise, and exactly what their mix of young and veteran talent can do, early in the season. In just the fourth game of the year, the team upended the defending NE10 champion, Saint Anselm, 5-3, at the Jason Ritchie Ice Arena. The goal may be lofty, but if the early season is any indication, the sky may be the limit for these birds.