As an extraordinarily young team, the The University of Tampa’s club hockey squad is happy with the way their season has started. Currently they are 1-1 in the ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association) and 1-3 overall. The team is currently made up of more than half underclassmen with large majority being freshmen. Head Coach Steve Kucera is happy with the team because he sees an abundance of potential.
“We have a very young but very talented team this year,” said Kucera. “Half of our team is made up of freshmen and they are all playing reasonably well together and starting to gel after this last weekend. We just have to get back to the fundamentals because our defense is a little sloppy. But once we tighten our defense and really focus on the fundamentals we are going to have a good year.”
Captain and sophomore forward Matt Fenby also thinks the season is going to be an especially good one. After only playing four games, he believes the team is already starting to play well together.
“I’m really happy with the direction the team is going so far,” said Fenby. “Even though most of our team is underclassmen, I think we are starting to play well together.”
Fenby is leading the team in goals but the feat doesn’t mean much to him thus far.
“Being the leading scorer so early in the season is meaningless to me,” he said. “But being the leading scorer in March, now that means something. It’s just too early in the season to be happy with something like that. The other captains Corey Tudor, Darren Gazaille and I work well together as a line; we’re like a family, and any of us could be the leading scorer right now. It’s just how everything plays out during a game.”
Although Fenby makes his status on the team with a nonchalant tone, Coach Kucera accurately depicts what kind of player Fenby is and how he contributes to the team.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Kucera said. “Obviously he is team captain, which is a big deal for only being a sophomore whether it is for a young team like ours or for any team in general. He is a very calm and cool player and has silky hands. He is very smart with the puck. He can control the puck and tempo of play and that’s an important skill forwards need to have. I have really enjoyed watching him mature and grow up as a player this past year and I know he has a lot more potential in him for the future.”
Fenby, who has been playing hockey for 16 years, enjoys the game and could see himself playing even after he leaves UT.
“I could definitely see myself playing after my college career,” Fenby said. “I love the game and can’t see myself not playing it anymore. If I could, I would want to play for the Boston Bruins because they are the best team in the league,” added Fenby, just so happens to be from Boston. “One of the quotes I kind of live by is ‘All roads lead to the beer leagues; some are just longer than others.’ I think that explains how I know I will continue to play hockey in the future, but I still have some time until then.”
After their last home game against the University of Florida, the Spartan team was incredibly pleased with attendance from fans.
“We were so happy that all of the buses were filled for the UF game,” Fenby said. “We love when the fans come because it makes it feel like we are playing real hockey. We really want for our games to continue to draw fans in.”
The Spartan club hockey team next plays at home on October 4. before hosting Embry-Riddle. Most exciting though, is their Nov. 12 match-up with USF which will be played on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s home ice, in the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Paige Shallcross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org