The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men’s hockey team finished its season as the national-runner up after losing to St. Norbert College 3-1, in the national championship game on March 22.
It was the first time since 1998 that the Pointers made it to the Frozen Four. Senior and team captain Tyler Krueger said lifetime memories were made that week.
“The Frozen Four experience was something that myself and all the guys are not going to forget about for a long time,” Krueger said. “Playing in the national championship game was a privilege and I will be forever grateful for all of those experiences over the past week.”
Junior goaltender Brandon Jaeger described the experience as an honor to represent UWSP in the Frozen Four.
“Playing in the Frozen Four was an awesome experience,” Jaeger said. “It was a weekend filled with exciting, fast and intense hockey.”
Junior defenseman Kyle Brodie said the experience was a good pay off for the team’s hard work.
“The guys all worked so hard, and even though it didn’t pan out the way we had hoped, it is nice to see our team get rewarded for working hard all year long,” Brodie said.
Coming into the season, the team had expectations of playing in the Frozen Four. Brodie said that a championship was on the teams mind since the first team meeting.
“In our very first team meeting, Coach Brooks said that he has recruited and prepared to win a national title, the rest was up to us,” Brodie said. “The team kept that mindset throughout the entire year, and I definitely think it showed down the stretch.”
Krueger felt this team was different after an underachieving season the year prior.
“This year had a different feel to it right from the beginning. I would say in the past it was always a goal to make the Frozen Four, but this year it seemed like an expectation,” Krueger said.
From the first day of practice, the team was committed to reach its goal of winning a national championship.
“This years team had a higher commitment level than any team I’ve been apart of to this point,” Krueger said. “Guys wanted to win so badly that they made sacrifices they may not of been willing to do in the past.”
“Our team was successful this year because we had a great group of guys that were committed to each other and committed to our ultimate goal: winning a National Championship,” Jaeger said. Jaeger also credited the coaching staff for putting the team in the position to succeed.
“We had great coaching from head coach Chris Brooks and assistant Trevor Smyth that put us in a position to be prepared and successful against any opponent,” Jaeger said.
Both Jaeger and Brodie were selected to the All-WIAC first team. Garrett Ladd and Kevin Gibson joined Jaeger and Brodie as a first team selection, while Ladd was honored as WIAC Player of the Year. Scott Henegar and Kyle Sharkey were named honorable mention, and head coach Chris Brooks was a finalist for Coach of the Year.
“It is obviously a great honor to be recognized like this, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They get all the credit and deserve to be recognized individually just as much as I do,” Brodie said
After coming close to reaching its goal, the team expectation is to return to the Frozen Four next season.
“After making it to the National Championship and coming up just short, I think our team will be very motivated to get back to the Frozen Four and hopefully be able to win the title this time,” Jaeger said.