After capping off a thrilling 2016-2017 campaign with a victory against the University of New Haven for the N.E.C.H.A championship, the Pride men’s hockey team wasted little time making their mark for the 2017-2018 season. With wins against the University of Connecticut and the University of Albany, it appears the boys are still buzzing from their previous season. To be a hockey player, one needs to be tough: physically and mentally. If one was to find themselves at Smead Arena on a Friday night, they would see that the Pride are as tough as they come.
Springfield’s hockey program continues to grow with the team this season. The squad gained nine freshmen this season. Senior captain Charlie Murphy is looking forward to what the team can accomplish this season due to the mix of young talent and veteran leadership.
“The team is trending up from my previous years here. Captain means a lot to me, but we have a locker room full of captains.”
The Pride has started its first few games in control, until the dreaded third period starts. Through the first three games of the season, Springfield has been outscored 8-1 in the third period. Head coach George Johnson commented on the team’s late game struggles.
“We know we have to get better. Defense has been a focus in practice in recent weeks,” said Johnson. “We can’t put our heads down now. We’ve got to keep moving forward.”
One player has stood out for the hockey team this year and he isn’t your typical college hockey player. James Baker, a 30-year-old forward from Mystic, Connecticut, has become the unsung hero for the team thus far. Only being in his second year with the program, Baker has worked his way to the top of the team scoring four goals through three games.
“Having it be only my second year, I’ve tried to adapt to the fast pace these guys play at,” said the veteran forward.
Baker also gives credit to the young guys surrounding him:
“Hockey is all about team, these guys make more plays for me than I can imagine.”
Time will tell for the Pride, but the boys seem to be rolling. Senior Jake Barnacle will be a major factor for the team once he comes back from a shoulder injury he suffered against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Springfield is an exciting team to watch every-time they touch the ice. Teams still fear the Pride because of its rampage of a season last year. Fighting through injuries, the Pride has some of the toughest hockey players in the area. It’s a grind in every game, but that won’t stop the determination of Springfield College Ice Hockey.