As the students get acclimated to the new normal up at the University of New Hampshire they are desperately missing cheering on their fellow Wildcats on the field or the court. With the postponement of fall sports, it left an emptiness in some of the students’ lives but with winter just around the corner they could be back watching the Wildcats on the ice sooner than they think.
The UNH men’s hockey team had their season end earlier than they would have liked last year after having a decent year with a record of 15-15-4. The Wildcats seemed to loved home cooking last year going 10-5-2 in the Whittemore Center beating notable teams like Boston College, UMass, Michigan, Northeastern and Providence. But after going 4-9-2 on the road it is clear that the ‘Cats need to pick things up on the road to get back to the playoffs.
The men’s hockey team has started to get back into the action practicing in two groups and getting back on the ice. Each UNH player is tested to ensure that everyone on the team stays healthy and doesn’t infect the rest of the players.
“Our players are all testing twice a week. We have half the team in one session and half in another,” said head coach Mike Souza. “Things have gone well so far; we’re taking it one day at a time.”
It hasn’t come without its hiccups however, as the coach’s access to the players off the ice has been limited and has hindered them in teaching the younger players some of the nuances of the game. One way Souza has decided to tackle this issue is to take things a little slower when on the ice.
“What we’ve tried to do is structure our on-ice sessions to go through things slowly but we also need to make sure we do the right things so we can hit the ground running when we do get up and playing,” explained Souza
Although it’s been tough for them to get started, coach Souza had high praise for how things were being handled by administration and the league.
“I’m incredibly proud of the efforts behind the scenes to make the transition, especially for our first-year players, as seamless as possible.”
“The athletic department and the university have done a great job and their leadership has been amazing. They’re doing everything they can for all the students to have as much as a normal experience as possible and it’s been incredible to see,” coach added
However, with no season schedule released yet many are wondering what their schedule could look like if they can get a season going.
“Over the last week or so we’ve had some real positive conversations as a league. It’s probably as optimistic as ever [that games will be played]” said Souza. He continued to say, “I’m all but certain we’ll play a reduced schedule this year, but I do think the leadership in the league has done a great job of getting our league in particular back up and running.”
Although it may be a strange and shortened season, that doesn’t take away from the excitement building to have UNH hockey back on campus.
It’s as simple as Souza says, “Our guys just want to play as I’m sure do all the student athletes. They just want to compete. We’re really excited about our players this year, I’m looking forward to it.”