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Club hockey bounces back for impressive season

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Photo courtesy of Jennifer Schwichtenberg

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Schwichtenberg

As coach Will Jurgensen put it, “There’s not a whole lot to be disappointed about.”

While Marquette Hockey (30-8-1) was unable to qualify for the ACHA Division III National Tournament, the team was vastly improved compared to the prior season. The Golden Eagles finished as the No. 6 ranked team in the Pacific Region, greatly increasing their win total from last season.

Jurgensen credited his back line for being the team’s most improved unit, and a big reason for its high win total.

“We had some guys, Kellen Buddy, Eric Plotz, and Joe Bertane who really were the most improved guys on the team, Marc Shipbaugh included,” Jurgensen said. “They were young guys, a couple sophomores and a couple freshman that were thrown into tough games and tough situations, but they managed to improve a lot.”

Coming into next season, Marquette will have to find a way to replace the scoring from senior assistant captain Tyler Schwichtenberg. Schwictenberg was the offensive leader up front, finishing with 37 goals and a number of go-ahead scores in close games. Jurgensen mentioned he is conscious of the issue coming into the offseason.

“I have thought about it,” Jurgensen said. “What he brings to the table is irreplaceable. What we’re going to hope for is that we get a couple solid forwards that come in and play on those top to lines to fill in that spot.”

However, Marquette should be able to lessen the blow if sophomores Corey Quinn and John Stillman can build off their success offensively. Even if the two can’t pick up the scoring load, the Golden Eagles are in a great position defensively because of their depth in the net. Junior Thomas Place, sophomore Alejandro Anderson, and freshman Robbie Arner will all be back for the upcoming season.

While Place and Arner were the No. 1 and No. 2 goaltenders, Jurgensen is excited to have another season of competition for the group.

“I’m going to come in with a fresh mind just like I did this season,” Jurgensen said. “I didn’t really have my solid number one goalie this year until halfway through the season so I expect these guys to battle it out. The competition that’s there only makes the goalie situation better.”

In general, Jurgensen is looking forward to see how the sophomore class build’s off of this season’s success. He said the group was arguably his best class, and that making it to regionals will only better the group in the future.

“They know what it feels like to lose in a regional like this,” Jurgensen said. “That’s only going to translate into experience and improving as a team. When they were freshman, their season ended a few weeks earlier, and now they know what it’s like to win a conference championship and how to make it to regionals. Now they know how much work it takes to get there.”

As for coaching, the team looks to have a bright future with Jurgensen at the helm. After replacing former coach, Joe Cocking, Jurgensen helped lead the team to 30 wins in only his first season as a head coach. Jurgensen graded his performance and described what he learned during the season.

“I’d probably give myself a B,” Jurgensen said. “I think that I brought the enthusiasm and a game-plan every day, but I think there are a lot of strategic things I need to improve on. A lot of coaching aspects that I need to improve on are systems and plays that I really wasn’t able to implement this year because I was so worried about making sure that practices were running smoothly. Now that I feel confident running practices and talking with the guys, I know what they can take and what they can’t take.”

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