This past weekend, the Colorado College men’s hockey team started out their season with an exhibition game against Canadian school Mount Royal University and skated away with a 3-0 win. Because it was the first game of the pre-season, the team was just hoping to test the waters, according to senior Matthew Hansen. Nonetheless, they won, gaining extra confidence going into the regular season. This weekend, the Tigers will open the 2016-17 regular season on the road with two games against University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts.
According to Hansen, the highlight of the exhibition game was seeing the first-years succeed. “It’s always nice to see them get going right away so that they have confidence,” Hansen said. “Coming in [and playing a D1 sport] is a huge adjustment.” This year, there are 10 first-years, so nearly half the team consists of new players. One of them, Branden Makara, scored a goal.
For Hansen and the other six players that trained at CC over the summer, a typical day consisted of waking up around 5:30 a.m. and getting to the weight room at 6 a.m. From there, they would lift until about 8 a.m, and then skate from 1 p.m to 3 p.m. The in-between time involved lots of rest, recovery, and eating. Now that the team is in season, they are in the weight room three days a week and have regular practice five days a week.
A substantial change for the hockey team has been having their own personal weight training coach, Stephen Woodworth. In past years, Woodworth was one of the assistant strength and conditioning coaches for all varsity teams, but now he is solely focused on the hockey team. “Stephen is great,” Hansen said. “The seven guys who stayed here over the summer followed the training to a T and we saw a lot of success.” The whole team had to follow the same protocol for summer training, but it made a difference to be at school and be kept on track by the coaches.
In regards to coaching that happens before and after games, the coaches leave most of the pep-talking to the players. “The coaches know that we know what we have to do,” Hansen said. “For them, its more about reminding us about the systems, the little things we need to brush up on, and providing occasional motivation.” The majority of the communication that happens off the ice takes place in the team’s locker room, which, according to Hansen, is really fun for the team. In addition to bonding on the ice and in the locker room, the team goes to the hockey house to watch football together and hang out with one another.
For Hansen, being a senior means finally being adjusted to the crazy time commitment and excelling at time management. “Because practice is off campus, we are gone 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. usually, so school gets tough if you’re in a hard class.” During his first year, Hansen struggled to manage his time, but over the last three years he has figured out the ideal routine to succeed. “Freshman year you come in and don’t really know what to expect, especially with the schooling…In high school you barely do anything and then all of a sudden you come to college and have to read 120 pages in one night,” Hansen said. But, as time goes on, players learn when the best time to do their homework or take a nap is, which differs for everyone. It’s all about what works for the individual.
The Tigers are determined to succeed this season after their last season ended below expectation. “Because of [not finishing as strongly as desired last year] we worked really hard in the summer and got in way better shape,” Hansen said. “It’s already showing in practices and in games.” The hockey team commits more time to their sport than any other team on campus, and with all the practice they do, they have sizable goals for this year.