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The Weber State University hockey team started its training camp on Tuesday. The team is coming off of a successful season, finishing 10th in the nation in Division II hockey.
The players were ready to get back on the ice, where the last action they saw was in March.
“It felt great,” said co-captain and fifth-year player Josh Giudice. “I was a little sore at first. I’m sure I will be sore for the next couple weeks, but once I get the feet moving, I think everything will be good.”
With the first day of camp in the books, everyone was trying to work out the rust, sharpen their skills and get into season form.
“I think the first day of practice so far looked really good,” said goalie coach Michael Brennan. “It’s the first part of the season; you got to get a bunch of guys that are still trying to make the team. They are going to be nervous coming out. The guys just need to relax. Tomorrow, I think, is going to be a better day.”
The coaches will use this time to find out who should play where. They will also evaluate and pick the players they feel have the best chance of making the biggest difference on the team.
“I think it went well,” said assistant coach Yosh Ryujin. “We’re just really trying to figure out who’s who and who’s playing where. I think just getting the guys out there and getting their legs under them a little bit and just getting used to being out there with the guys, that’s really what this first week is about.”
Head coach Joe Pfleegor has continued in his second year to bring in more players he thinks can help the team achieve even greater success this year. The coaches said they are excited about the current recruiting class.
“I think we have added some impact players, guys that are going to make a big difference on this team,” Ryujin said. “To surround our existing core with these guys that we have brought in, I think, is just going to make us that much stronger this year.”
With all of the new recruits, the players have even higher aspirations on where they want to be at the end of the year. They look to improve on their national ranking.
“We have four deep lines, really good on the back-end defense,” Giudice said. “We’re just looking forward to a great year. We finished 10th in the nation last year. We’re looking at taking the whole thing this year.”
The coaches said they believe that goal is attainable. They know the head coach has the right attitude to make it happen.
“Joe Pfleegor is a phenomenal coach,” Brennan said. “He’s done great recruiting. He’s got the right people in going to fulfill his goals. His goals are to try to get this program to be a Division I program. I believe that he can do that, totally.”
But in the end, the coaches know it is up to the players to make the goal a reality.
“Taking four or five years off of nationals as a team and getting back last year, especially our older vets like Braxton (Green) and Josh, that was their first time really experiencing something of that magnitude,” Ryujin said. “I think the leadership of this team will be able to bring everyone else along. We’re just helping to facilitate that.”
The season will begin on Sept. 6 with an exhibition game against the Park City Pioneers at the Weber County Ice Sheet.