When the season began back in September, Youngstown State University’s hockey club started off bruised and battered by losses and injuries. However, club members aren’t giving up just yet.
“In the first semester, we had a whole line ineligible and out with injuries,” said co-captain Dan Jech. “On a roster of 15 to 20 guys, the other players run out of gas, and that’s just what happened.”
The Penguins sit at 2-20-1, but they’ve gone 2-3 since January began. Even so, Dan Jech said the hockey club still has a shot at the playoffs.
Dan Jech said he’s holding out hope for the second semester, even though the reserve players were “physically unable to keep up.”
“The team’s lost a few close games lately, so the second semester will definitely be better with having everyone back,” he said.
Nick Wolf, the other co-captain, said despite the up and down season, club members are still on track.
“The whole team just enjoys hockey and playing together,” Wolf said. “We’re sort of a close group of friends.”
Wolf said that camaraderie and hard work have helped the club’s members move toward their goal.
“The starting lines are starting to gel together,” Wolf said. “We’re just scoring more goals than what we did in the first semester.”
The team’s top four scorers are seniors, so head coach Ron Jech said he’s relying on recruiting to keep the team alive for next year.
“We’ve gotten some recruits who play locally, but I’m hoping we can find recruits at a higher level,” he said. “We need more people on a full roster.”
Ron Jech said the support of YSU students would go a long way toward the team’s making the playoffs.
“We need an earlier start time for our games. Typically, they started at 7:30, but now not until 9:30,” he said. “A machine at the ice rink broke down, which causes the later start times. Students don’t like the later games because nothing is open when the game is over.”
Regardless of who shows up, the YSU hockey club will still be out on the ice, fighting until the end.
“Our guys are competitive even if they’re losing,” Ron Jech said. “We still have a long way to go.”