By Nick Pantages
We’re No. 1!
Everyone can attest to the feeling of pride flushing through their body when they see that they are the best, and that is exactly what the Springfield College men’s club hockey team felt.
The Pride were tabbed as the top club hockey team in the country last week, something that many on the team were proud to be a part of.
“Seeing that number one ranking was pretty eye opening,” said Connor Konopka, a freshman forward on the team.
Winning and success is nothing new to the men’s club hockey team at Springfield, which won back-to-back conference championships in 2017 and 2018, and this success is built on the culture many who have passed through the program have built.
“We might be a club sport, but our focus is to win as many games as we can,” said junior defenseman Joe Manning.
This win-first mentality has helped the team excel on the ice, and is the basis of the culture the Pride have built. The foundation of this hard-working culture is fortified during practice.
“[During practice] competition starts to boil up, especially when forwards start to go against defensemen,” Konopka said. “It carries over to the games because the guys just want to win.”
The hard-working nature of the team is necessary, according to Manning.
“We’re not the flashiest team. We’re always gonna have to be the team that outworks people 100% of the game to win,” he said.
The camaraderie between the members of the team off the ice also helps the Pride develop the chemistry necessary to be an elite team.
“We always try to do stuff together, whether it’s just hanging out, going bowling, just trying to have a good time,” Manning said.
The easy-going off-the-ice nature of the team helps many players become quickly acclimated to the team, which is something Konopka noticed as he joined.
“You don’t feel that difference between freshman and senior. Everyone is one,” Konopka said.
Despite the smooth ride so far, Springfield hit some turbulence last weekend. After being voted No. 1, the Pride lost back-to-back games, likely dropping them from that top spot. However, the positive nature of the team has none of them doubting that they won’t move past it.
“As a team, we just have to flip the script and move on,” Manning said.
The way the Pride plan to wash away this bitter taste of defeat is to do what they do regardless of the situation – get back to work.
“We just need to tighten little things up, try some new things out, and just move on,” Konopka said. “Good teams forget this stuff.”
Despite the unwanted sting that the losses gave the Pride, they will continue to work to get back to that number one ranking, and Manning and crew know they can get back to that position.
“We had that number one ranking, and after this weekend it’s probably not going to be that way, but we can’t let that discourage us,” said Manning. If we put our heads down and work collectively as a team we will be fine.”
The Pride’s first bounce-back opportunity involves a trip to Maine to take on St. Thomas on Dec. 11 to wrap up the first half of their season.
Photo Courtesy Club Men’s Hockey Team