By Carly Benson
Though many Canadians lament over the current lockout in the National Hockey League, not all hockey has come to a standstill. Suddenly, university teams and minor leagues are getting all the attention from fans in need of a hockey fix. For the Dinos men’s hockey team, this interest could not come at a better time.
“This is the best team I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Head Coach Scott Atkinson said bluntly.
For four years, Atkinson has been building this Dinos team to reflect his ideals. Throughout this time, the team has seen steady improvement. This year’s promising team looks to capture what has eluded every men’s hockey team in Dino history–a national championship.
Six first-year players have been added to the line-up, all with enough experience that the term “rookie” does not seem to fit. These include goaltenders Mike Lencucha and Scott Talbot, forwards Adam Redmond, Brent Gibson and Alexander Lalonde and defenseman Wade Davis. Each of these players brings tonnes of experience and determination to the team.
One key to every winning team is leadership. The Dinos have a locker room full of it. In particular, Atkinson looks to veterans Bracken Kearns, Jordan Walker, Craig Strain and Josh Woitas to provide direction and focus. These are players who can inspire their teammates not only in the dressing room, but also by example on the ice.
The standout feature for this year’s team is their ability to work hard. The players commit to four practices a week–both on the ice and off–as well as two games most weekends. This dedication is essential if the Dinos hope to capture the national championship this year.
The wide range of talents and skills make it impossible to collectively group this team into a category of “fast” or “physical.” Instead, they are united by the commitment to winning, and their dedication to hard work.
With the first game of the season coming Fri., Oct. 15, Atkinson has only one concern: injuries. This deadly plague for any sports team has already visited its wrath upon the Dinos, who have nine regulars out of the line-up. However, Atkinson is confident that the rest of the team will step up and carry the slack. With the goal of the prestigious national championship in sight, the team has no time to lose.