Boisterous crowd aids in season opening win on ice

By Nate Wilson-Traisman

The Macalester men’s hockey team opened its season Friday night with a dominating 6-3 victory over The Lumberjax, a local men’s team. Propelled by the energy of raucous students packed into Highland Arena, Macalester prevailed in what proved to be quite a physical game. Two Lumberjax players were ejected, and both teams battled hard on the glass throughout.”We’re a physical team with lots of heart,” left-wing Daniel Esrig ’10 said.

Colin Ostroot ’11, who scored twice and had three assists in the victory, led Macalester. Erik Johnson ’11 added two goals of his own, as did Dan Allen ’12.

The Lumberjax appeared overmatched throughout against the younger, more energetic Scots. The Scots struggled with penalties early on, but were able to use their youth and depth to their advantage, scoring two third period goals to put the game away. They were backed by an enormous contingent of nearly 100 enthusiastic fans, which maintained a high level of intensity from the opening face-off until the final buzzer.

“Honestly, the fans are the primary reason we play hockey,” coach Jeff Swick ’09 said. “We’ve always had pretty decent crowds, but the attendance for our first game trumped anything I’ve ever seen at Macalester. We get such a rush playing for a huge, loud crowd and it wouldn’t be the same without them.”

While Macalester hockey remains a club sport, the Scots have taken measures to expand their schedule to play more competitive teams. Last season marked the first year that Macalester beat an actual college team, Northwestern Bible College, and the Scots will look to add to that this year as they take on local college club teams such as Carleton, Bethel and Northwestern.

“We’re definitely increasing our competition,” Esrig said. “We’re playing much better teams.”

Scheduling is not the only measure the club has taken to increase competitiveness. Macalester has also boosted their coaching staff, which now consists of two students, Swick and Carson Gorecki ’09, as well as the occasional aid of Macalester alumni Alan Weingarden. Both Gorecki and Swick were members of the team before injuries relegated them to the sidelines.

“Both Alan and I run practices,” Swick said. “Alan has a lot of experience with coaching at a higher level, so sometimes he runs practices. It also makes more sense because I can’t be out on the ice due to my broken leg. So, while I take a backseat when it comes to running drills, I have been able to dedicate more of myself to team strategy and management, especially during games.”

The Scots have also bolstered their roster, which has allowed them to compete at a much higher level. Macalester currently fields a roster of roughly 25 players, and has received a huge boost from Ostroot, a transfer from Holy Cross. Ostroot, a forward, was a member of the Crusader’s Division I hockey team before coming to Macalester, and his presence was felt Friday night as he punched in two goals in the victory.

“Since my freshman year, the team has gotten infinitely better,” Swick said.

He went on to say that he believes the Scots can improve on their victory against Northwestern one year ago.

“My goal for this year is to beat both Bethel and Carleton,” Swick said. “Given our expanding roster and influx of new talent, I think this is entirely feasible. I can tell you right now, it won’t be easy.”

Unfortunately, due to a Macalester fan’s post-game destruction of the Snoopy statue inside of Highland Arena, Macalester’s game scheduled for tonight has been cancelled. As a result, security will now be a necessity at future Macalester Hockey games.

The next game will be Friday, Nov. 21 at Highland Arena. Swick requested that Macalester students continue their strong showing at games, but establish a higher level of respect for the arenas that the club plays in.