CHARLIE THOMPSON, Staff Writer—
As the zamboni ranges the ice on the Lou and Gib Reese Ice Arena, the Denison Club Ice Hockey group arrives in a while sooner than their 9 p.m. observe. Head Coach Jeff German laces up his relatively difficult skates, speaking candidly in regards to the group’s targets for this season, in addition to their relatively bumpy get started. Though the group began simply 1-2 of their first 3 video games, Big Red Hockey has noticed immense good fortune since, profitable 5 in their remaining six video games, one thing that German has in part attributed to his advanced recruiting technique this previous offseason.
“I always just say [to the parents], before we break out into groups, ‘If you don’t have a 3.5 [GPA] or better, don’t come to my table and save us all a bunch of [time]’,” mentioned German. “I want kids exactly like the twenty-eight we have here, they’re here for the right reasons, and they’re also great hockey players.”
An alum who performed for the group was once additionally inspired by means of the growth the group has made from past due, each on the subject of their play and their body of workers.
“You make progress based on good leadership, bringing in good kids, good kids being great leaders, great current players and kids making it more attractive for other good players and kids,” mentioned the alum.
He believes that’s what Coach German and the group captains (Jon Svendsen ‘23, Oliver Gignoux ‘23, and Trevor Seitz ‘23, and assistant captain Jake DiMantova ‘24) have done for the team. Coach German similarly believes in the progress made by the team’s management.
“In all my time here, this group of captains are probably the best we’ve ever had. They hold everyone, including me, accountable… I think that this group has instilled a really good culture, and when it starts to wobble, they immediately shift… There’s a reason to be very optimistic on the future leadership,” mentioned German.
Shortly sooner than observe, Coach German and ahead Duncan Humphries ‘25 shared a second, discussing line adjustments and doable shifts to make use of in opposition to Xavier. They bickered, nearly familially, about how every line interacts with one any other, and settle in the end on a lineup they each may agree on.
Humphries has been within the Lou Gib (because it’s affectionately identified) since sooner than he can actually take into account. Having began skating classes in kindergarten, he started to play for the Newark Generals, in the end taking part in for his highschool’s varsity group and being coached by means of German his senior yr, the place Humphries additionally served as a captain.
Humphries mentioned, “Having [Coach German] as a coach my senior year, he was all about pushing me and having me get better. When he asked me about the opportunity to play for Denison, I felt confident that I had acquired the skills here from the Newark program that I could take that to the collegiate level that he was building and that we are playing at.”
Humphries attributes a lot of his good fortune and his stories with the group to German pushing him.
“It’s definitely crazy to think of the kinds of teams we play…having played West Virginia and UNC Chapel Hill, those are all teams I wouldn’t have imagined playing growing up, nevermind right now,” Humphries mentioned.
The season has been off to a just right get started for the Big Red. In the offseason, Denison Hockey was once promoted from American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA)’s Division III league to the Division II Atlantic Coast Conference Hockey League (ACCHL). This department is composed basically of the normal ACC colleges like North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia, but in addition contains non-traditional groups like Penn State from the Big Ten, Princeton from the Ivy League and James Madison from the Sun Belt.
German considers this to be the next move within the group’s adventure, their subsequent proverbial mountain to climb. Sitting beautiful with a 6-3 document going right into a two-game sequence in opposition to Adrian College on the finish of October, Denison has seemed fierce and fired up. Against North Carolina, the group was once down up to 5-2 at one level, however fought again with 3 fast targets to pressure an time beyond regulation, the place Finn Lewis ‘26 delivered the sport winner. UNC Head Coach Jeff Volkman spoke in short in regards to the sport, pronouncing Big Red Hockey capitalized at the deficient stamina of the Tar Heels.
“[Our goal] was mainly keeping our stamina up and playing our game… I think Denison’s a great team and they’ve gotten a lot better in the last year,” mentioned Volkman. “And they had a great win. For us, it boils down to that we got away from our game… We [play] a speed game and we weren’t able to execute…Denison did a great job of capitalizing on that,” mentioned Volkman.
This is prime reward coming from Volkman, whose group beat the Big Red remaining yr in a swift 6-2 routing in Hillsborough, NC. Jack Duane ‘23 spoke once more about how Denison wore down the already exhausted Tar Heels.
“[The] UNC game, man, that was a fun one… That was our first game of the year, [and] as a team, we were really excited. We all had jitters, nervous jitters, butterflies in our stomachs. We knew UNC was going to be tired, coming from playing two games in Cincinnati, and then driving over here before going home, so we took advantage of [that],” mentioned Duane.
Coach German additionally believes that the group’s resilience may be what helped them ship the Heels house with a street loss.
Said German, “I think for me, the absolute pinnacle, was in years past, we’d go down 5-2, the game ends 8-2, we’d just collapse. But we had a moment on the bench, where it was the moment, the defining moment, maybe of the season, even though we won’t win every game, but we decided not to lose that game. There’s a difference, and we just came back and it was one goal at a time, one shift at a time.”
The following weekend, the group traveled to Morgantown, WV, to stand off in opposition to West Virginia University in a two-game sequence. Despite their absolute best efforts, Denison returned house with two losses, which many avid gamers mentioned got here from a loss of just right bodily well being and simply being outmaneuvered at the ice from a bodily more potent, albeit most likely now not higher, group from WVU.
On Sept. 23, Xavier University’s hockey group traveled up from Cincinnati to Newark to stand off in opposition to Denison. From the instant the puck dropped in Game One, it was once chippy. Although German was once apprehensive of a quick and bodily Xavier group, it was once the rest however that for the Big Red. It changed into increasingly more glaring that Xavier was once now not, in any way, ready for the sport, as Denison was once skating circles round them, controlling the puck and bullying the Xavier avid gamers up and down the ice.
Early within the first length, Lewis was once laid out by means of a Xavier participant, who was once due to this fact dropped to the ice by means of Seth Kaplan ‘26. The physicality didn’t let up all the way through the sport, as Xavier many times performed rather less than honest, taking any probability to maim Denison avid gamers. In the primary length of Game One, weaving via a shaky Xavier protection, Gignoux discovered a gap and took it, firing the puck directly previous Xavier goalie Jack Framber. Framber, who all the way through Game One, could be scored on 4 extra instances by means of the Big Red
Captain Gignoux spoke about how proud he was once of the group for beginning to be able to put contemporary and efficient shifts at the ice, pronouncing “We’ve got people contributing up and down the line. In years past, it’s been two or three people that we really rely on, Jon [Svendsen] being one of them in net… We’re now at the point where everyone can make a contribution.”
Xavier did strike again on an influence play within the first length, scoring with the Big Red shorthanded. However, the Musketeers have been held to only two issues overall, scoring over again early within the 3rd length. Denison, alternatively, had any other objective within the first length from Tommy Raith ‘25, adopted by means of two shorthanded targets from Kaplan and John Yavari ‘25.
“[We] got away from taking too many stupid penalties, and the kids are out there having a grand old time. We put in two short handed goals, the fans are electric, and the bench is on fire. I see us coming out of today with a W,” mentioned defenseman Nick Salerno ‘25 all through the second one intermission.
In the 3rd length, Kaplan scored the game-sealing objective, with Denison taking Game One 5-2.
In the second one sport, which came about at Xavier’s house rink in Cincinnati, it was once no more difficult than the evening sooner than. Despite a Big Red street win, 6-3 within the Denison’s choose and garnering a sequence sweep, Xavier once more performed bodily to take a look at and stage the sphere.
Early within the first length with the sport tied at 1-1, a Xavier participant broke probably the most sacred unstated laws in hockey: he hit the goalie. As goalie Brennan Holmes ‘25 had left the goal to retain a puck, he was laid out against the boards, unsurprisingly prompting the Denison line to immediately race over to protect Holmes, dropping gloves and dog-piling on the aggressor. This didn’t hassle the Big Red, with Ethan Wipff ‘25 scoring a hat trick, in addition to claiming targets from Gignoux, Humphries and defenseman James Patillo ‘25.
Despite the demanding situations that lay forward, Denison Hockey is in it for the lengthy haul. Led by means of captains who care about their teammates simply up to they care in regards to the sport, the bonds that tie this group in combination have made them one thing to be reckoned with as they input their first season within the ACCHL.
Game after sport, the group seems more and more in a position to attaining the ACCHL Playoffs, which German famous in particular because the overarching season objective.
“This is just the beginning. It’s a talented group of players, they’re motivated, they want to win. These guys hate losing more than they want to win and that’s where you’ve really got to be. I think I’ve been consistently setting the message in the locker room that we deserve to be here, like it’s okay to expect to win… Now we should expect to win, it’s not only that we should expect [to], it is expected of us,” mentioned German.
Luckily, Denison has so much to sit up for, with Big Red Hockey sweeping the University of Akron 6-1 and 10-1 in two video games respectively, in addition to tying a two-game sequence in opposition to Mercyhurst University this previous weekend. The group takes on Adrian College Bulldogs on Friday, Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. on the Lou and Gib Reese Arena in Newark.