By COURTNEY HART
The UT hockey team is picking up where they finished their last season — strong.
Last season the UT’s hockey team made it to Nationals for the first time since the team was formed back in 2010.
“Based on last year’s success we’re trying to build off that and continue to improve,” senior captain Joe Tully said. “We got to experience Nationals for the first time and our goal is to get back there and compete.”
The hockey team is already off to a good start in their season with a 4-1-1 record.
They are five points ahead of the other teams and hold a first place lead in the Southern Collegiate Hockey Conference.
Thirteen of the 29 players on the roster are new this season. This could be one of the biggest challenges that the hockey team will face.
“A big challenge we have seen so far is how young we are,” senior captain Alex Carde said. “We have 13 new skaters this year and we are still getting used to playing with each other; it will come with time though.”
Despite the learning curve, they are using the new members to add a different dynamic to the team.
“Our biggest strength going into this season is our depth,” Carde said. “The combination of the returning veterans with some of the new guys gives us an opportunity to throw a lot of guys out on the ice.”
Based on their success in the preseason, it looks like it is going to be another promising season for the hockey team.
“So far, it looks like this season will be another successful one,” said Jessie Beckett, team head manager. “The players are a great mix of ages and are very capable. I look forward to watching them develop as a team this season.”
The success of last season and making it to Nationals had a positive impact on the hockey team and was important to their growth as a team and in their fanbase.
Although last season was a key success, the team knows that they have to continue to work hard and push themselves this season.
“Last season was a huge stepping stone for our program, which was just in its fifth season,” Carde said. “Coming into this season, we can’t hang our hat on our previous accomplishments. We have a totally different team this year and we definitely have a large target on our back going into every weekend that we will have to be ready for.”
The UT hockey team now plays at a new rink in Clearwater and will host a home game on Friday, Oct. 7 against Bridgewater State University at 8:45pm.
“Looking forward into the season we are really excited to get back to playing in front of our new fans at our new rink in Clearwater,” Carde said. “We have had a lot of away games to start off the season and had a great showing at our home opener last weekend.”
Courtney Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org