ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy Hockey team begins its season this weekend with non-league games against Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association foe Lehigh University on Friday (9/17) and Saturday (9/18) . Both games will start at 7:30 PM at McMullen Arena in the Brigade Sports Complex. Under Head Coach Mike Fox, this year’s young team will return to the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association (ECHA) after a three year absence and will compete for a spot in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 1 National Championship.
During the 34-game regular season, the Mids will be challenged by other top quality teams. In addition to Lehigh, they will battle, Drexel, Stony Brook, Scranton, Towson, Penn State Berks and Villanova in league play as well as several other top quality non-league opponents. According to second year Assistant coach LT Matty Thomas, “the seniors will be counted on to lead a large contingent of young but talented players to victory ...and we are confident in their ability to do so with great success.”
As the season gets underway for the Mids, the seniors in the class of 2011 have brought a newfound sense of urgency to their preseason approach that is sure to pay dividends come game time. Led by Captain Sammy Carlson, the Mids take to the ice this year with an unprecedented pre-season workout regimen that was demanding to say the least. Complimented by a strong core of returning players, the future looks bright for Navy Hockey.
The Class of 2011 is looking to the 2010-2011 season to provide the opportunity to leave Navy Hockey on a high note and to leave a lasting legacy with the program. Carlson says of the upcoming year, “ultimately, we want to win the conference and establish a name for ourselves in the ACHA as a force to be reckoned with.” At the same time, Navy’s captain is quick to emphasize that the character of this year’s team is defined by the atmosphere of the team chemistry. “We’re a family that looks out for each other and holds each other accountable like brothers.” Senior Michael Orzetti comments that “from the firsties down through the plebes, this is a tighter bunch of guys than I’ve experienced pretty much anywhere else…at the end of the day, it’s the leadership and interactions we take away from the locker room that actually matter.” But as Orzetti is quick to point out, the real question is whether that off-ice environment can translate into on-ice success.
While hockey is only one of a plethora of demands on the firsties’ time, it still takes main stage, and the seniors have demanded an unwavering commitment from the rest of the team.
Carlson, an intense and dedicated leader is a lead-by-example kind of guy, always visible amongst the rest of the team, giving 100% on every drill of every practice. As the elected captain, he has a great deal of delegated responsibility, but this year it goes beyond the authority given. Sammy is the leader on and off the ice, and he would be so whether or not he was wearing the “C” on his jersey. In support of his efforts, Assistant Captains Matt Roberts and Steven Csutoros are certainly a visible component that keeps the team clicking. As President of the club, Matt Roberts has a heavy load of logistical responsibility beyond his duties as a leader on the ice and in the locker room. In response to his own natural strengths, “Chewy” has assumed the role of team morale monitor. He certainly does his part to keep spirits high and has an unnatural ability to sense the ups and downs of his team members. Another senior, Jonathan Wheeler who is battling back from and injury plagued season has once again emerged as an on-ice leader, pacing a young corps of defensemen with his physical play and incredible athletecism. Unquestionably, this force of senior leadership is as qualified as any to take on the challenges of the upcoming year.
The greatest hurdle for the seniors to overcome this season appears to be a certain lack of playing experience at the collegiate level by several very talented underclassmen. Having graduated a large number of seniors last year and, as a result, picking up a unusually robust crop of freshmen, the challenge to mold young talent with seasoned experience weighs largely on the senior class. Steven Csutoros notes that “these young guys are good, but untested. It’s going to be our responsibility to make sure they’re ready to play when we drop the first puck.” Luckily, the seniors have strong junior and sophomore classes to help with that process.
As Navy looks to reestablish itself in the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association (ECHA) again, the stakes are high for this senior class. This year is their chance to leave their lasting mark on the face of Navy Hockey. The excitement is electric, but the challenges are real. A hockey season is inevitably marked by a great number of unanswerable questions. Yet the one certainty through it all is the character and competence of the seniors in the class of 2011, who will, like those before them, go forth into the Navy and Marine Corps and serve their country with honor and distinction, separate from, yet inextricably linked with everything they have done and all they have become as a result of Navy Hockey.
-- By, MIDN 3/c Christian Sandroni (Goaltender)
Navy Hockey Public Information Officer