The Elizabethtown College ice hockey club is back in action. They recently began another season at the Twin Ponds East rink in Harrisburg. After a strenuous 2010-2011 season, the Jays added many new faces to an already solid core.
“Obviously losing Reece O’Neill [graduation] and Alex Reinhold [injury] will hurt us a bit, but I think the new talent that we have acquired will really help to solidify this team,” said alternate captain Brett Antosh.
The Jays return seven players for this season including seniors Drew Hanaoka and Jason Young and sophomores Kurt Schollenberger and Andrew Herm, along with Antosh. The team is hoping that the strong veteran presence will help to acclimate the newer members to the play-style and culture of the team.
“It’s always hard to just throw a team together and tell [them] to play a game and expect them to play well,” Hanaoka said. “Chemistry takes time to build.”
To this already-solid core the Jays added new faces who bring with them many years of previous hockey experience. Sophomores Micah Suhnaufur, Dave Shatzer and Robert Graham, as well as juniors Pat Dixon, Josh Reihl and senior Matt Freedman joined the roster. There are also at least three first-years interested, but are not currently playing, so they will join the program in October.
The team plays a 26 game season. The games will be held at either Twin Ponds East in Harrisburg or Twin Ponds West in Mechanicsburg. The team that the Jays are most looking forward to playing is Messiah College.
“They’re the only other college team in the league, but more importantly, it’s our biggest school rival,” Hanaoka explained.
Every match-up against Messiah last season ended with a very close score, and the Jays hope to change that during this year’s upcoming season.
With a strong supporting team, the Jays are hoping for a more successful season. “Our main goal for the team this season is to improve every time we play,” Antosh said. He believes that if they achieve this goal, the team is capable of making the end-of-season playoffs.
“This program has improved a lot in my four years here, and it will continue to improve,” Hanaoka added. “As long as we play hard and the school supports us, we will eventually achieve our ultimate goal of becoming a varsity sport here at Elizabethtown College.”
Sept. 20, the Jays’ season opener against Brick Haus resulted in a 0-15 loss. The Jays then played Messiah College, with the result of a 4-5 loss.
The Jays have had two other match-ups since Messiah, both of which were an improvement to their record. Their match up against the Ice Dogs resulted in a 3-3 tie, and last week their game against the Kodiaks resulted in a 4-2 victory.
After the team’s victory against the Kodiaks, the Jays are ready to take on the rest of their season. At their next game, the team looks forward to showing off their new uniforms, as well as their talent.
The team hopes the new uniforms will bring more unity to the team and better chemistry to the ice. With players heavily focused on team building and skill development, they are sure to have a successful rest of their season and continue to grow as a popular club sport for Etown students. The team is still a work in progress, but this year’s Etown ice hockey team looks to take bigger strides than any team before it.