The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point hockey team was one step away from being the top team in the country last season, losing in the Division III NCAA National Championship Game, making players hungrier to take that final step to hold the trophy this year.
UWSP will bring back some of the offensive fire power that got the team so far last year, but with many seniors gone, players will adjust roles before entering the conference season.
“We graduated seven key seniors. Three of them were All-Americans. We are not just going to replace that,” head coach Chris Brooks said. “We have eleven newcomers, almost half of our team, so we are going to continue to develop.”
Brooks has developed the program as a whole to be a national power year in and out. He said he tries to provide a family like culture and does a lot of in-house work.
“We pursue excellence each day. We have a culture within our team that sets our expectation for what we want to accomplish, and this has evolved over my time here at UWSP,” Brooks said.
UWSP has started the season 6-0 with a variety of close wins and blowouts. Wherever the Pointers play, Brooks makes sure his team is prepared to fulfill the level of excellence he preaches.
“We have an expectation to be one of the top programs in the country. We can’t control a lot of our non-conference schedule as it is assigned by our league, so we just emphasize on getting better every game and winning every game,” Brooks said.
Brooks has leaned on some new players to be on-ice leaders and control each game tempo, he said.
“Evan Dixon has shown some great leadership and play early on here, and I am looking for Joe Kalisz and Kyle Sharkey to lead us and be two of the top players in the country,” Brooks said. “We need our best players to play well and be just that.”
And Brooks believes no matter who the guys taking the ice are, they’ll be ready to uphold the team’s expectation.
“We focus on the process, not always the end result. If we take things day by day and don’t get too far ahead of ourselves, we will continue to give ourselves a chance to be successful,” Brooks said.
UWSP will take the ice Friday at home against Marian, as well as Saturday against St. Norbert.