Alex Lutz –
The University of Wisconsin-Stout men’s hockey team has been having a great season so far this year, which is something Coach Watkins said didn’t surprise him. “The team has met all of my expectations for them this year,” Coach Watkins said. “We’ve done very well with the young team we have. We’ve doubled our wins this season and we did it against some tough teams.”
Stout senior Mathias Åhman from Härnösand, Sweden said, “I believe that since day one of this season we have been taking steps in the right direction as a team every day. Of course, there are times throughout a season where you have periods when it doesn’t go as well as you thought it could have.”
Both Coach Watkins and Åhman agree that the youth on the team was one of their biggest challenges to overcome this season. Not because they weren’t talented, but because there were so many young guys this season and they wanted to make sure they were all on the same page. “We wanted to make sure they knew how short the seasons in college are compared to in junior hockey. Stating that every game matters and there are no easy games,” said Åhman.
Coach Watkins was quick to state that there are no players that stand out more than others and that the team is full of talented players. “There are really talented guys that sometimes don’t get to play because of how much depth we have on the team,” said Watkins. He went on to say that every player has met his expectations and in most cases surpassed the expectations he had for them.
The seniors hold a special place in the heart of Coach Watkins. “They’re all great kids, they’ve done a great job in the past four years playing for me. I’d like to have them for another four years if it were possible.”
Hockey also holds a special place in Åhman’s heart. “After hockey, I will be missing the team. The friendships you build throughout the years are lifelong friends. I will also miss the competition, being able to come to practice and go to games and compete every day. I would like to thank Coach Watkins for the hard work he does every day. I’ve never had a coach work that hard and be so passionate about his job. These four years have been very fun and I couldn’t be happier about where I ended up.”
The Blue Devils hockey team is headed into playoffs with the first round of the playoffs set to take place Friday, Feb 15-16 starting at 7 p.m.