Calvin hockey goes to national tournament

Photo+courtesy+Rich+Luimes

Photo courtesy Rich Luimes

Calvin men’s hockey knows how to heat up the ice. The Knights played the Adrian College Bulldogs in an edge-of-your-seat game, taking revenge on the team who beat them last year in the regional final.

This win launches them into the national tournament, where the Knights will pack their bags, hit the road and head to Pelham, Ala.

Calvin gears up to battle Florida Gulf Coast University in the first round of the national tournament on March 10.

Calvin has always had a competitive hockey team. The hockey team won the national tournament in the 2004-2005 season and has taken eight years to rebuild a team that can make it back to the national tournament.

“Calvin has always been a competitor in the North and we have not missed playoffs in the four years that I have been here,” said senior forward and captain Rich Luimes:

“However, this year it seems that all the pieces are falling into place in regards to talent, depth and the personalities on the team.”

Although the Knights have a diverse age range from 18-26, “you would never be able to tell with how well everyone meshes both on and off the ice,” said Luimes.

With 22 out of the 28 players on the Calvin hockey team being underclassmen, it is safe to say that the Calvin hockey team has a great base to build their team on.

“With the bulk of the guys returning next year,” said lead scorer, sophomore Cameron Bell, “we will have a good idea of what it takes to get to nationals in consecutive years.”

Sophomore Jordan Duncan agreed, saying, “As a sophomore, it is only my second season playing and this one is better than my last in every way. But those experiences from last year made me a better player today.”

In addition to the team’s chemistry and ability to work well together, Calvin’s hockey team has the attitude to never quit. It is something that Rich Luimes is proud of.

The game against University of Michigan Flint demonstrates this, when the Knights made a tremendous comeback from being down 2-4 and skating away with a 5-4 win.

“Our team never gives up, and that is a staple of Calvin hockey but this group in particular,” said Luimes.

Bell is also proud of his team this season. “Of course we are extremely proud of our accomplishments thus far, including qualifying for nationals, but we do not view that as our end goal.”

A game plan is still necessary as the Knights look forward, especially since their team will be playing five games in five days in the semi-finals and final tournament games. Bell said, “[It’s] a physical battle but we feel it is attainable.”

Florida Gulf Coast, a team with a lot of speed and agility, will not be easy to beat. “We need to continue to focus on our defensive zone.

Mistakes will always be made, but it’s about minimizing the amount of mistakes as well as the damage. Coach Petrusma is always pushing us to be defensively responsible,” said Luimes as he looks ahead to the tournament.

Leaving the tactics to the great coaching staff standing behind them, Luimes, Bell and Duncan plan on leading the team by example to play a “hard-nosed, physical game” and “fine-tuning minor aspects of the game.”

With the passion and ferocity they have been bringing to the ice so far this season, there is no doubt they can have a 2004-2005 season repeat.