North Texas Daily

Hockey lighting lamps and swatting pucks en route to hot start

Hockey lighting lamps and swatting pucks en route to hot start

Hockey lighting lamps and swatting pucks en route to hot start
November 07
21:50 2021

Before the season, North Texas hockey talked about how they are not the 1-19-2 team that was seen back in early 2020 and about how far they have come as a unit. Flash forward nine games into this season, they have backed it up and jumped out to a 5-3-1 record.

“We could do all this talking about how we were improving things, how we were going to be ready and that it would be a lot different than before,” junior forward William Kinard said. “If we didn’t back that up with a successful start, it would have felt like a big letdown.”

The success the Mean Green has been experiencing has not come by accident. They have had a potent attack, but more importantly, good goaltending. The team’s starting goalie from the 2019-20 season was junior Ethan Venable, who typically plays defenseman for the team.

“Having a real goalie makes a huge difference,” junior defenseman Max Alford said. “It’s reflected in every score.”

Junior goaltender Trace Parker is the starter, but Alford believes that freshman goaltender Jorge Villarreal and sophomore goaltender Max Shinder are not far behind.

“We have three really good goalies this year and it’s a good battle between the guys,” Alford said. “It’s really fun to watch those three guys battle it out for that starting spot and to see them play against good teams.”

On the offensive side, the team has been lighting up the lamp, with senior forward Eric Eaton, junior forward Joey Demers and sophomore forward Lucas Snetsinger leading the charge. Eaton and Demers have been proficient shooters, tallying 17 goals and 15 goals respectively. Snetsinger has been dishing the puck at a high level, racking up a team-leading 17 assists thus far. As a team, they are averaging 6.22 goals per game.

“It’s just buying into the system we’ve got going on,” head coach David Heeps said. “It’s a very fast-paced system that works for our team, especially with our forwards.”

Despite the hot start, North Texas has faced some struggles on the defensive side. These struggles were exemplified when the team went against the Dallas Baptist University Patriots, losing by scores of 1-9 and 2-12. Kinard thinks the team needs to work on their puck movement if they want to reach the next level.

“We need to be stronger on pucks and stronger on sticks,” Kinard said. “A lot of what I see is that we run into teams where the puck is just magnetic and we’re not quite there yet.”

Even though the team has a decent record thus far into the year, there is still over half a season to play for the Mean Green. North Texas has road trips to Missouri and Arkansas coming up, where they are going to have to take on divisional opponents.

“I think that the strong start has given us a boost in confidence and you can see when we go out there and play,” Alford said. “It’s going to be interesting to see the last half of the season and how it goes when we start to get those tougher opponents.”

North Texas will play their second and third divisional game at home against the University of Missouri Tigers this Friday and Saturday, hoping to continue their successful start.

Courtesy Kyra Bachick

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Tyler Luker

Tyler Luker

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