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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M ice hockey stays focused despite season cancellations

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Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

Despite not being able to compete during the spring, the Texas A&M hockey club is using the success from last season as motivation during practice. 

The Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference announced on Dec. 18, 2020, that the 2020-2021 season would be canceled due to COVID-19.
However, this season’s cancellation is not stopping A&M hockey from continuing to practice and maintain a championship mindset.
During practices, assistant coach Gary Russell said he stresses the importance of last season and hopes to bring the same mentality to his newly rostered players.
“Now that most of the guys on the roster have that championship experience, I think it gives them a quiet confidence about their game and our team,” Russell said. “That’s also something that [head] coach [Derrek] Harper and I have stressed during practice.”
Practice has been key to helping A&M hockey players sustain their mid-season form, Russell said.
“We started practicing earlier this spring semester and have been trying to develop chemistry between the returning players and new players and form new lines, specifically forward lines,” Russell said. “Coach Harper and I have also been implementing new systems and focusing on game-situation drills.”
Since the team is only able to practice a few times a week, off-ice workouts have been important to help these players stay in shape, freshman Matthew Perri said.
“Off-ice preparation requires diligence physically and mentally for me. In order to be able to jump right into games, individual strength and conditioning training in the gym is key,” Perri said. “Mentally, I like to stay committed to our goals and not just go through the motions without purpose.”
Though the team isn’t able to attempt a repeat of last season’s national championship, Perri said knowing they have the ability to reach that level of success keeps the players engaged on and off the ice.
“The new guys have seen the culture and have been exposed to the attitude it takes to win over our past few months of practice,” Perri said. “We want to come in, recreate that feeling and prolong the winning mindset.”
Peter McElaney, junior defensive player and team president, reflects on some of the best moments from last season.
“My favorite moment from last year’s championship season was being able to play the Texas Showdown game on the outdoor rink at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas,” McElaney said. “It was also an incredible experience as a player because being able to play in an outdoor rink in a football stadium, particularly in Texas, is a rare chance, especially when it is where the NHL Winter Classic took place just days after us.”
A&M hockey has created a bond inside their organization that seems to be unbreakable, McElaney said.
“The relationship between my teammates and I is amazing,” McElaney said. “Despite the fact that many of us have different majors, are from different cities and states and have played on a variety of previous teams, we are still able to bond over so many things and have fun playing collegiate ice hockey.”
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended their spring season, the players are continuing to keep their heads high and are looking ahead to the upcoming fall season.
“While these restrictions are completely understandable given the current situation in the world,” McElaney said. “I am looking forward to when Texas A&M ice hockey can go back to a regular season where we can travel the country to play other collegiate ice hockey teams and play very exciting games in front of our amazing fans in College Station.”

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