This past week brought us into the month that we wait seven long months for. We worked and trained hard all summer, made it through a week of boot camp with the Canisius ROTC program and now we finally made it to October. College hockey season is officially here.
It was a busy but exciting week for the Ice Griffs. We all had a spring in our step on the ice and in the weight room, as we wanted to be fully prepared for our first game over the weekend. On Monday and Tuesday we held our last two players-only ice sessions where we ran through drills for the first half then scrimmaged for the second half. For the rest of the week, we split our time with 20-minute players-only sessions followed by a 40-minute practice with coaches.
The practices consisted of game-like situations, as the coaches did their part to be as ready for Sunday's game as possible. These situations help us get used to our systems and plays, but nothing can truly prepare us for the speed and physicality of a real college game. On Saturday, we held our first official two-hour practice where we fine-tuned our game before facing York University on Sunday.
On Sunday, we were in for our first test. We went through our usual routine of eating a team meal at Bob and John's four hours before game time then, once we dusted the cobwebs off our suits, we got dressed up and headed to the rink. After stretching and warming up together, we took the ice as a team for the first time this season.
Almost as soon as the game started, the Griffs got on the scoreboard with the usual suspects of the Scarsella, Conacher and Shupe trio - showing that they hadn't missed a beat since last season. The Griffs showed that all lines could contribute offensively as many players got in on the scoring action. Torrey Lindsay showed that he's not just an animal in the weight room or just another pretty face and proved that he is a force to be reckoned with in the offensive zone with an impressive hat trick. Our freshmen were also very impressive as it appeared that we have a great mix of offensive flare and defensive responsibility with the new guys. It isn't always easy to tell during preseason which players will fit in well at the college level, but on Sunday it looked as though the coaches had really done their homework on these new players.
The game ended up being an 11-4 win in our favor but it was nowhere near a perfect 60 minutes for us. We saw what we needed to work on, which we aren't always able to see in practice, and we were given a taste of the physical play we hadn't faced in months. The York Lions were good competitors and liked to play a physical game. It was great to see our guys take it as a challenge and not only show that we can play a very physical game, but also score goals while doing so.
While sitting in the locker room before the game, Phil Rauch and I looked around at all the new faces and got to talking about our first game four Octobers ago. We were both coming out of junior hockey and had no idea what to expect once we stepped on the ice for a college game. It is a mixture of nervousness and excitement that you feel before you step onto the ice for a regular game, but it is multiplied tenfold when it is the first game of the season, and even more so during the first game of your career.
It was a weird feeling to think that this was our last first game of our college careers, and I couldn't help but feel somewhat envious of the freshmen that have a full four years ahead of them. After Phil and I had this talk, we decided that we need to make this our best year yet and not stop at anything in the pursuit of our first Atlantic Hockey Championship.
See you at the rink,
Scott Jenks, #3