From The Oswegonian
By Alexis Fragapane / Jack Perdek
Last weekend was the first dose of American Collegiate Athletic Conference (ACHA) action for Lakers club hockey, starting their season after a year away from the ice.
In a two day homestand against Rochester Institute of Technology and Niagara University last weekend, the team was handed two defeats to start the season. Players and coaches on the team said these games were points of improvement in their long six month season. Head coach of the Lakers Travis Hyde said he saw some good things and some things to fix from last weekend.
“I loved the energy and work ethic throughout the whole weekend,” Hyde said. “But we took some shifts off at times that ended up costing us in the end, something that has been a focus for us this week. As well, it was great to see production from some freshman [and] guys in the lower part of the lineup.”
Hyde said that his team had a little too much excitement going into their game against Niagara University, considering that the Lakers lost a heartbreaking semi-final playoff game against them in 2019 ending in a score of 4-3.
“The game against Niagara was much of what we expected, fast, physical and high emotion,” Hyde said. “I think it was great for the team to see purple in their eyes again and in all reality, we played far away from our best game against them and I expect our meeting with them in late January may see a different outcome.”
There is a different level of competitive nature between both of these teams every time they meet. For senior Chase Nies, this was just a trial run of where this team needs to be and what they hope to accomplish. The center, from Plano, Texas, attributed the team’s strongest quality as a surplus of speed that makes up for their size on the ice.
“The past seasons I have been on the team our size has been smaller,” Nies said. “But I think our speed makes up for it, especially when we play the bigger teams like RIT, Canisius and Niagara. If we use it to our advantage we will definitely prosper.”
After a 6-3 defeat, the Lakers are hoping to bounce back with another two home games versus University of Rhode Island (URI) on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2. In preparation for the games, Nies and his teammates are taking on the “take-no-prisoners” mentality. Despite the results of the opening weekend, he is focused on being competitive against every team.
“I think with the 24 games we have left this season, there really is not anyone that we cannot go toe to toe with,” Nies said. “Especially when it comes to league games, playing non league games will prepare us for a playoff run.”
The 2021 season is a gift to the Lakers and they are certainly thankful for the opportunity to compete again this year. With all of this time off heading into the season, senior Andrew Cardi stressed how important it is for him to be hockey ready.
“It is about getting back into game shape,” Cardi said. “I told Nies in our locker room that I am very thankful to be playing again especially with this past year.”
An added perk to playing college hockey is the fans that come along to watch games during the season. This was something Cardi is also thankful to have back.
“We had a lot of people come out and watch us last weekend,” Cardi said. “I am hoping for an even bigger turnout this weekend against URI.”
In their 2021 debut weekend, the Lakers were playing their older and younger guys as the weekend progressed. To get them some experience, Hyde started a line of rookies to face off against Niagara University last Saturday. He was optimistic about what they can do as well as the future of his upperclassmen players.
“It was great to see production from some freshmen and lower part of the lineup,” Hyde said. “Our top guys had a tough weekend, so when they get hot, look out.”
Making sure the overall depth of the team is improving is a key focus for Oswego State. Cardi said that in time the rookies will make a huge leap and make this team better.
“They look good,” Cardi said. “I think it is going to take them some time to get adjusted to college hockey, but it will be a quick turnaround for them.”
Improving is the best the team can ask for going forward, as they get better they will have to do it on the road in their seven road trips this season. For Cardi and Nies, they have their eyes set on some of their favorite matchups.
“The Villanova trip that we have planned in November,” Cardi said. “I have some family over there and we have never played them before so I think it will be fun.”
Nies is excited to build camaraderie on the road with a trip to Ohio in late October.
“I am most excited for Kent State,” Nies said. “They get a good amount of fans, we have had some really good games with them and I enjoy playing against them.”
For now, the Lakers club hockey team would like to head into that Kent State trip with a couple victories under their belt. In preparation to hosting URI this weekend, Hyde is looking forward to turning last weekend’s losses as room for growth down their next stretch of games.
“I preach that mistakes happen, we are not robots,” Hyde said. “And we let the level of excitement get to us a bit this past weekend. However, It was a learning experience for a lot of guys that I love has happened so early in the season. Our eyes are for sure on this weekend against URI, as it will be their first two games of the season.”
(Originally published at https://www.oswegonian.com/2021/09/30/acha-laker-club-hockey-hosts-uri-this-weekend-seeking-first-win/)