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Men’s hockey aims to expand program in future

On Nov. 4 and 5, the men’s hockey club will be playing against Wheaton College for their seventh game of the season.

The Vikings are currently a very young hockey team led by sophomore captains Ben Sera and  Brendan Maize. The Vikings currently compete in AHCA Division II, but play a variety of opponents from Division I, II and III.

Augustana has the ability to play opponents from all different levels because they are currently not a part of a specific conference.

The Vikings have started the year 0-4, but played two Division I opponents. The Vikings struggle to compete against Division I programs mainly because of the challenges Augustana presents in the recruiting game.

“It’s hard to find kids that fit the mold for Augustana academically and athletically. These big state schools have many more kids to pull from,” Jacobs said.

Along with struggling in the recruiting game, the Vikings struggle because of their young roster.  Jacobs said college hockey is a different game and it takes many players at least half of a year to become adjusted to the speed of the game.

Maize attested to the struggles being a young player himself.

“We play a lot of great Division I teams, and it’s really fun to see how you compare. It’s a whole new style of hockey. These games are nice because once we play teams that aren’t Division I, the game slows down,” said Maize.

The club has some big aspirations as well. When Perry Jacobs took over as the head coach of the Augustana men’s club hockey team, he had a desire to rebuild the program and take it to the next level.

However, Jacobs’ job situation hindered his ability to go out and recruit great, young players. The team was forced to get most of their players from an open tryout. That all changed when Jacobs hired Mitch Surell in 2014 to recruit for the Vikings.

Surrell said he considers not only their athletic potential, but also their academic potential when it comes to finding future student-athletes for the Vikings.

“I look to find guys that can succeed at Augustana first and foremost as a student. Once I find out that the recruit fits our academic standards and can afford Augustana, I then look to see how he plays hockey. I want to get guys that I know will graduate from Augie,” said Surrell.

When Maize and others came to Augustana, they knew it was going to be a struggle for the first few years, but are excited for the future.

“We have had a bunch of recruits come in from all over the country a couple weeks ago and we are having more in the future,” Maize said. “Once we get guys here, we know we can get the program on its feet.”