Club hockey tryouts a grueling experience

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Club hockey tryouts a grueling experience

Jake Smith spent the summer working on his strength and speed.

Jake Smith spent the summer working on his strength and speed.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Jake Smith spent the summer working on his strength and speed.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

Jake Smith spent the summer working on his strength and speed.

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It’s no secret Marquette’s club hockey team is one of the most competitive clubs on campus. Not making the team is a reality most Marquette freshmen quickly come to face.

Players aiming for a spot on the roster attended the club’s intense three-day tryout last week.

“A lot of guys assume they can just come in and make the team,” Head Coach Will Jurgensen said. “We aren’t like any other club team.”

Some players, like freshman Jake Smith, said one reason they came to Marquette in the first place was to play hockey.

“When I found out Marquette had a club team, it really itched me on to come here,” Smith said.

Jurgensen said freshmen often come in out of shape and are intimidated by the players’ size. Players like Smith, who attended a club hockey game last year, knew they would have to hone their skills in order to compete. During the off-season Smith focused on improving his speed and strength to adapt to collegiate play.

A lot of players are not as prepared as Smith. Freshman defender Harry Murray was unsure whether or not he wanted to tryout. He came in not knowing much about the team, and admitted he was nervous.

“It’s a little nerve wracking, a little intimidating, but I’m just out here trying to give it my best shot,” Murray said.

The club will carry 25 players on its 2016-’17 roster. The returning players are usually heavy favorites, but not automatic locks to make the team. Jurgensen said he believes every player should come in expecting to earn their spot again. This year the club is returning 17 players from last season, a team that fell one game short of making nationals.

Since tryouts only span three days, players must quickly convince the coaches they have what it takes. Most freshmen struggle with the transition from high school hockey, where they were considered one of the best, to that of the collegiate level. Proving themselves is a task many have not had to do in awhile.

“Its definitely a lot different,” freshman R.J. Deneweth said. “I kind of forgot how to do that. I just got to take advantage of every opportunity I have in these couple tryouts.”

Players who do not make the team usually do not come back. Jurgensen said there are other options if players want to remain a part of the team, but he encourages freshman to try again next year.

“You don’t see it too often because guys find other clubs, but I encourage them to come out again,” Jurgensen said. “Marquette just has a lot to offer.”

Jurgensen calls the last day of tryouts his hardest day of coaching, because he has to tell players they came up short. He said he is incredibly impressed with how players react.

“Players are accepting, they look me in the eye and shake my hand,” Jurgensen said. “That just shows the type of people we have at Marquette.”

Before they began their last day of tryouts, Jurgensen told players that if they don’t make the team it does not shape what kind of person they are. Freshman Goalie Jim Bertane said not making the team would be difficult to swallow.

“It’s going to be rough, but I mean I’ll have to live with it,” Bertane said. “I’m not going to let it ruin my college experience.”

Luckily for the goalie, he made the cut. Deneworth also made the roster.

Smith wasn’t so lucky.

“I was disappointed, but not as disappointed as I thought I would be,” Smith said. “I knew it was going to be hard, there weren’t that many spots.”

“It’ll be tough to get on the ice because of school, but I’m not going to hang up my skates.”

 

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