The 2013-14 season has been a roller coaster for the CSU hockey team. In the first season playing at the (ACHA) club Division I level, the Rams expected to be challenged with a faster pace of play, stronger level of opponents with matching endurance.
With a (10-16, 3-12) record halfway through the season, the Rams have recently found themselves faced with the dilemma of replacing former head coach Kelly Newton with newcomer Gregg Burkhard in hopes of changing the direction and future of the young team.
“We were not happy with how things were going and we just kind of wanted to go in a different direction,” assistant captain Jordan Gnatowsky said. “We wanted to create a new culture and our new coach, we believe, is the guy for the job.”
Though the determination to compete against some of the top teams in the country was there, success did not follow. That is when captains Jamison Wicks, Connor Tamai and Gnatowsky came together with the team to decide on a plan to change direction. Newton refused to comment at the time of print.
“It was not that our old coach was a bad one. It’s just maybe not the right fit for the group of guys we have,” Gnatowsky said. “I think having our new coach will get us in the right direction, but we are a young team and it is not going to happen over night.”
With two games remaining in the season, Burkhard stands behind the bench as a symbol to the players of big things to come for the Rams as a definitive head coach determined to change the squad’s future.
“I have really big expectations for this team,” Burkhard said. “I am really more worried about the step-by-step process in practices that will get them where they need to get up to.”
Burkhard said he was brought in by the players to give more direction to the team — and to rescue the young program. He found out about the job from NHL veteran Doug Smails, running with the opportunity to step into the leading role.
“My goal is to understand the team as one and the contribution each player brings to the ice,” Burkhard said.
In the upcoming practices extending into 2014, he will be initiating work out schedules, meal plans and guidelines to maximize the team’s potential.
“I hope for a positive next half of the season with strong starts and a better mental game,” assistant captain Tamai said. “The limits are endless for us and I hope that this new coach will be that changing factor in our future.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.