Hockey team hopes to improve season

Olivia Hagerty

Starting 0-8 is certainly not what the Augustana hockey club had in mind when the season began.
But the Vikings will look to work on their skills needed to compete at the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II level.
Assistant coach and recruiting director Mitch Surell has been with the Vikings for four years and is solely responsible for recruiting around the country to find new student athletes. Surell said being a team that can continue to compete and improve each game is their goal for the season.
We try to learn from our losses, and focus on what we can do better the next time we hit the ice,” Surell said. “Our head coach Perry Jacobs and our three alternate captains do a good job at keeping the attitude positive on a daily basis.”
The team typically practices every Tuesday and Thursday night. Tuesday night practices focus on skill work – conditioning, skating or battle drills. Thursday nights, the team shifts strictly to power play work and special teams.
Junior forward Sam Spector said taking every practice day by day is the best way to stay focused.
“Conditioning can always be worked on, and keeping a positive attitude is important for us. We always want to be excited and well prepared for the games,” Spector said. “The team is just a great group of guys. It’s a nice mix of people who have great attitudes.”
The Vikings are currently preparing for back-to-back games at Xavier University in Cincinnati next weekend on Oct. 19-20. It is the first time the club will meet the Musketeers this season.
Something that has been hard for the Vikings this season is dealing with some injuries resulting in losing a few players.
The Vikings’ depleted roster makes it difficult at times to execute quick line changes. But things have been worse. At the beginning of Spector’s freshman season, the club only had 10 players. This season, the roster is up to 18, just short of a full roster.
“When you don’t have a full roster, the whole team can get exhausted by the third period,” Spector said. “Once we get a full roster and plus more, we should be able to compete with the better teams.”
One of the senior leaders, forward Brandon Maize, said sticking with the same team plan is what will help the Vikings get the most out of the smaller group.
“It’s tough, but we always will play our hardest,” Maize said. “Winning is fun, but as long as we can establish good relationships and friendships throughout our time here, then that is initially more important than hockey itself.”
The hockey club does not play home games on campus and isn’t affiliated with the Augustana athletic department, which can make promoting the sport difficult. Maize, however, said players and coaches are dedicated to make Augustana hockey known throughout the community.
“People in the Quad Cities still don’t know we have a hockey team,” Maize said. “It is definitely becoming more popular because we are getting more kids through and it helps out the school to get more players here.”
Maize added that the club will continue to build on that popularity.
“We have grown to be a family,” said Maize. “Hockey here means a lot. I want everyone to have a good time. That is the most important thing.”
The Vikings play their home games at River’s Edge Arena, 700 W. River Drive, Davenport, Iowa. Students can take fan buses that leave from Centennial Hall. Admission is free.
The Vikings head to Xavier on Friday, Oct. 19. The next home game is Saturday, Nov. 3, against Division II Minnesota State.