By Garrett Aleckson —
“Winter is coming.” Those are the words of House Stark in the ubiquitous book and television series, Game of Thrones.
In the world of “Game of Thrones,” it is a long wait for winter to come—making many question the phrase from the Stark family. Fortunately for hockey players and fans, we are not in the world of “Game of Thrones” and do not have to wait multiple years before winter arrives. Winter is coming—that is a fact—and so has the University of Wisconsin–Stout hockey season.
The UW–Stout hockey team will have a mix of youth and veteran players. One of the returners, Jake Useldinger (Sr, East Grand Forks, Minn.) sees a lot youth on the team this year, saying “Anytime you have more than 10 freshmen on the team, you have a young squad.”
The Blue Devils added a total of 13 freshmen to the roster. In addition to these new faces, there are many returning players. UW–Stout will have 13 of their top 15 scorers return from last season. Useldinger says that the team will need everyone to step up—and especially get leadership from the older guys on the team.
“I’m looking forward to the good mix that we have. We have a good group of young guys who can push the older guys, but at the same time our older guys have been here and know how tough our league is to play in. The older guys have to lead the way,” said Useldinger.
Stout had five games last year in which they lost by only one goal. They had fewer games that they won by only one goal. That is something that the Blue Devils will hope to improve on, if they are going to improve their record this season. Useldinger says that the returning guys had those five games in the back of their minds during the offseason.
“The returners know that we didn’t get the results we wanted last year, everyone has worked hard this offseason to make sure we are on the other side of those one goal games this year,” said Useldinger.
The Blue Devils hope to improve on their 8-17-1 record from last season. Useldinger says that the team having more players than it did last year will increase competition and be a good thing for the team, “We have a lot more guys on the team this year, which is good because we have more competition for playing time at every position. Everyone has to keep pushing each other and battling in practice to make sure we are holding each other accountable” said Useldinger.
Although the season is underway for the Blue Devils, they have only played a few games so far. Useldinger says that since the season is just starting, the players will need to keep their heads up, no matter how they start.
“Just take it one day at a time. We play two games a week. You can’t win them all at once, but you can control your work ethic every day—which needs to be our mindset,” said Useldinger.