D1 Hockey Team Success

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D1 Hockey Team Success

Knights cheering on their teammates from the sideline

Knights cheering on their teammates from the sideline

Sam Ballast

Knights cheering on their teammates from the sideline

Sam Ballast

Sam Ballast

Knights cheering on their teammates from the sideline

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Calvin’s D1 hockey team, in unprecedented success, is currently the 17th ranked team in the nation. The Knights are 12-5-2 with notable back-to-back victories against a top 10 team, the University of Ohio Bobcats. They are currently heading towards a placement in nationals because of their improved play. 

Many factors have contributed to their successful season thus far, but head coach Mike Petrusma feels that their team culture has been the most important determinant of their success, as he said, “all of our guys are team-first guys.” Every time they are competing against these top tier teams, he said, “Everybody is all bought in, 100 percent, each and every game.” This attitude at one point propelled the team to an 11th ranking nationally, which was the best the Knights have achieved throughout their three years in Division I. 

Team Captain Austin Huizenga expressed a similar sentiment: “I think we are just having fun this year. A lot of us have been together for two to three years now, and the group of freshmen that came in this year fit right in.” Their friendship and community off the ice have transitioned into chemistry on the ice. As Huizenga said, “We’re not just teammates; we hang out with each other every day, whether it’s at the rink, on campus or someone’s house. It’s hard to get us separated from each other.”

Petrusma also praised the team’s adaptability from opponent to opponent, as he expressed how “hockey is a very fast game in a [constant] transition from defense to offense and offense to defense, so if your players are thinking too much they won’t play as well.”  Knowing this, he feels that the team has done a great job of playing off of instinct and staying in the moment. 

As a result, with the Knights being 5-1-1 at home, fans have enjoyed a spectacle by the Knights. Lawrence Beamer, frequent follower of the team, praised them, “specifically their defense,” which is led by Huizenga and goalie Darin Fox, who boasts a save percentage of .914 which is among the best in the nation in save percentage. Another key individual is forward Jared Virtanen, who is in the top five nationally in points scored this season, according to the American Collegiate Hockey Association website. 

Despite noticeable individuals, their focus is on their team dynamic and togetherness on the ice, which will be on display at their next upcoming home game against Western Michigan, Feb. 7 at 8:10 p.m.