For those who enjoy sports, there's nothing quite like fall. The leaves change colors, the air smells better, but, most importantly, hockey is BACK.
While excitement levels are high for a new chapter in the metaphorical Icepack book, anxiety and stress filled the room for what was arguably the most merciless round of tryouts in the Icepack's history. For those who have been around the Icepack, it comes as no surprise that this year's tryouts were a gauntlet of competition.
"I've been here for four years now, and this has hands down been the fastest tryouts the team has had in that time," said senior defenseman Jackson Cowen during Tuesday night's tryout session. "It speaks to what Tim [Healy] and former players have built and how much the game has grown here. It's great to see the foundation of the team starting at a high level, and we believe we're going to be built to win games in March."
Defense wins championships, plain and simple. It's a mantra as old as time in the sports world, and continues to be proven true. Luckily for the Icepack, there was a clear surplus of talented blue-liners at this year's tryouts, and the team's veterans took notice.
"The defensive corps is already looking like it'll receive a major boost," said graduate student forward Garrett Auriene. "The skates have been high tempo, and it's clear to us that we have a chance to go to nationals. We're bringing the program to a whole new level this season, and we can't wait to get our redemption tour underway."
Tensions may have been high this week, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a sense of relief to be back at the rink.
"It's a good feeling to be back here with the guys," junior forward Zack Robinson said after an intense shift during Tuesday's tryout scrimmage. "There's a lot of talent coming in this year, and it's just good to be back with the boys and to meet some of the new faces that I'll be seeing around the rink all year long."
New faces is certainly one thing the Icepack has plenty of this season. With the conclusion of tryouts on Thursday night, the team will see 13 new faces this year, accounting for nearly a 45% turnover from last year's roster. With less than two weeks until the season opener against the East Carolina Pirates, it's all "pedal to the metal" in order to get ramped up for the grueling season ahead.