An overlooked element to this year’s senior ice hockey class is its familiarity with the situation.
For five days each week during the hockey season, these veterans are a part of a proverbial family with the rest of the team. After their first year, team members generally move in with one another off campus.
“We understand each other because we have been through the past few years together and we know this is our last year with the team,” senior goalie Eric Semborski said. “I think this is a tight nit group of guys.”
Semborski said this class always knew they had a good collection of talent and were lucky enough to add some pieces along the way.
Aside from skills demonstrated on the ice, the seniors feel they are able to pass down life lessons off it through the upcoming season. Senior forward Brady O’Donnell said he remembers what it was like to be a freshman, and tries to mimic his former senior teammates from that 2011-12 season.
“You just try to be a role model to the younger kids on and off the ice and try to demonstrate good values,” O’Donnell said.
The challenge of becoming accustomed to new players joining the team is an annual tradition. It’s dealing with teammates who don’t return for the next season, though, that O’Donnell said is the tougher task.
“As I went through my four years, there were a couple times where guys were on the team and then the next year didn’t make the team,” O’Donnell said. “One of my good friends, Tyler Segrin, was on the team the first two years I was here and then didn’t make it in my third year. That was a challenge for [the team] getting used to new guys every year.”
The team will return 19 players from last season, but also had the chance to see first-hand last season that season leadership may not always yield success.
Last year’s senior forwards Joe Pisko, Kurt Noce and Nick McMahon, along with senior goalie Chris Mullen held similar pre-season aspirations to this squad a year ago, but ended up missing the ACHA regional playoffs. That group had each played for a 2010-11 Temple squad that competed in the ACHA National tournament alongside Ryan Frain, now in his second year of coaching the team.
“Last year’s seniors did not deserve the ending they got,” Semborski said. “This year we remember that and use it as motivation. There were too many close games that we did not come out on top in. We have to be committed to a full 60 minutes every game.”
That sentiment is echoed by those who remember last season’s last-minute collapse, dooming the Owls’ chances for their first regionals bid since that 2010-11 season.
“After this past season, everyone is still hurt about it and will do anything possible for it not to happen again,” junior forward and captain Greg Malinowski said.
Senior forward Steven Luongo said Frain, who had numerous regional tournament appearances along with his playing in the national tournament, has the experience that may help the team break its three-year ACHA playoff drought.
“[Frain] knows what it takes to get there and he knows what the problems were from last year and he is trying to fix them this year,” Luongo said.
Stephen Godwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @StephenGodwinJr.