With the end of the fall and winter hockey season in sight, it is important to step back and assess NDP’s teams to create goals and reflect on how the team has grown over the past year. NDP’s Division 3 hockey team has grown both physically and mentally this season, and they hope to continue to grow and progress all the way until they (hopefully) win the state championship.

According to Head Coach Taylor Nelson, “Overall, the entire team has improved.The kids have worked all season in practices and games to get better and they are improving at the right times.”

The team has meshed together seamlessly, and according to assistant captain junior Edvard Shilgevorkyan, “the upperclassmen have been encouraging the team togo on hikes together and look out for one another at school.”

One excellent example of this is the captain, junior George Simon, who said, “I try to be a leader in the locker room and lead by example both in and out of school.”

Over the course of the past three months, the player who has improved most is freshman Seth Christiansen. Christiansen began his skating career this year and is making monumental strides to “learn everything on the spot”, according to Simon.

Another player who is one of the most improved is junior Jonathan Jacobs. Assistant captain sophomore Tyler Tremeroli noted, “He’s been grinding in practice and his effort is paying off in his skating and shooting skills.”

Even though the team has improved in many different skill areas, there are a few that still need some work. According to Nelson, the biggest struggle for the team is “playing to their level. The team tends to play to whatever the level of competition they are playing. If they are playing a good team they come out and match the other teams level. If NDP is playing a bad team they come out and play down to other teams level.The team needs to be themselves and play to the level that they are capable of no matter what.”

Simon also noted that the team needs to work on paying attention to the coaches and grinding in practice to “learn how to set up plays in tough situations” and “find the open guy who has an opening to shoot.” The team has high expectations for the rest of the season and their preparation seems to be paying off.

At this point in the season, the team stands strong with a record of 9-1. Their end goal, according to Nelson, is to “be the regular season champions with the number one seed in the state tournament.”

These goals are echoed by the team through Simon, who expressed that his main goal is to see the team work hard to “maintain the skills they have to win the championship, raise a banner in the gym, and get state rings.”

By continuing to “show up to practice, listen to the coaches, and grind at off-ice and weight-training” like Tremeroli knows they can, they stand in a strong position to win the state championship.

Records and end goals are an important part of hockey, but what the team learns about life from working together is far more paramount than any state title. Simon expressed how this year has “taught him how to be a mature leader who tries to do the right thing even when there are ‘more fun options.’” He hopes this maturity transfers to the ice by allowing him to teach others plays they may not know a lot about.

Tremeroli said that being a team leader this year has inspired him to “improve his grade and set an example for everyone else on the team, to be able to balance practices, games, school work, and friends.” It is clear that no matter the outcome of this season for NDP’s Division 3 hockey team, this team has matured both on and off the ice.