The CSU ACHA Division I club hockey team is heading into the second half of the 2015-2016 season looking to make up for last season’s regrets. The haunting final moments of the abrupt ending of the last season has not affected the team’s moral in coming back and getting ready to battle throughout this season.
“We had pretty extensive off ice training, everyone really stuck to it this summer as far as like workout plans,” said Jordan Gnatowsky, co-captain of the team. “Everyone just had a bad taste in our mouth, so we wanted redemption since we missed nationals by one spot last year. So I think everyone had that in mind when we were training this summer.”
The CSU D-I club hockey team grew together as one during the summer in between the teams early morning runs, long skates and off ice workouts.
“Over the summer we really wanted to focus on coming together as a team and working really hard off ice getting ready for the season,” said Luke Fiegl, another co-captain.
The returning players for CSU DI hockey, such as Fiegl and Gnatowsky, were aware of the effort this type of preparation would require. However, for freshman Aksel Campbell, he was going into pre-season unaware of what was coming his way.
“Well, coming in I didn’t really know what to expect,” Campbell said. “… We’ve put in a lot of hard work off ice at 5:30 in the morning running, our practices are fast paced and we have a good leadership group that kind of brings us together as a team everyday through the ups and downs.”
In the midst of working on the teams conditioning and mental state during pre-season the importance of discussing the teams goal for the season was highly stressed.
Unanimously amongst the players the goal is to make it to the national championship game. However Fiegl has a different mindset when it comes to the Rams goal.
“What I want out of this season is not only to make it to the national championship game but also to win it,” Fiegl said. “It is not going to be an easy task though. It is going to take a great amount of hard work, discipline, and teamwork to accomplish that goal.”
The two captains are on the same page with one another in regard to how the team will achieve this goal.
“We have to be a well oiled machine,” Gnatowsky said. “Everyone has got to be on the same page, we can’t have guys with different agendas. And I think the fewer goals you have make it easier to accomplish, so I think as far as that goes everyone knows what we need to do to get there.”
The necessary steps to achieving this goal have been stressed to the team on countless occasions, specifically geared towards those members of the team that do not know what it feels like to have the chance of a national championship be one game away from you with no way to reach it.
“Even though I wasn’t there for the upset, even us freshman still have the hunger for that final spot of the season,” Campbell said. “We’re all working hard to get there.”
The CSU D-I hockey team is reaching the halfway point marker to their season and they are working out the last few kinks to ensure that they finish this season strong.
“Sure we are going to go through some bumps along the road but that’s how seasons go,” Fiegl said. “It’s how we as a team respond to those bumps and keep doing what we know is right and what works for us. That is how I think we will win a national championship.”
Sophomore Hunter Perry, explained the importance of playing the full 60 minutes of a game and not allowing one minute to go to waste on the ice.
“We really need to work on getting three periods of hockey,” Perry said. “We aren’t finding that consistency yet, but what I think we kind of realized is that we need to find an identity as a team. We need to find that through three periods of hockey.”
Creating an identity as a team is clearly important for this season of Ram hockey, but Gnatowsky sees this identity as being something much more for the future of CSU hockey.
“We need to make sure the identity we create this year is the identity we have for years to come, so people want to come to CSU,” Gnatowsky said.
CSU DI hockey is coming off the road from a defeat in Arizona and heading into three games this weekend against Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma.
“Last season this is where we dug ourselves into a hole and we kind of sent our season down the drain last year this time,” Gnatowsky said. “So because of that and the experience and adversity that we have to go through so far. I think everyone understands how important these last eight games of the semester are. We need to win, it’s not a question of wanting to we have to win.”
CSU ACHA D-I looks to redeem themselves against Oklahoma Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7:15 p.m. All games will be held at Edora Pool Ice Center (EPIC).
Collegian Sports Reporter Pia Myers can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByPiaMyers.