Back in May Wyatt Waselenchuk was named the new head coach. He is no stranger to the culture of MSU hockey, playing with the team from 2010-14 before becoming an assistant coach in 2015.
“What was built before me was a lot of good things. The groundwork was laid there for sure and we had a lot of good people involved in our organization in the past,” Waselenchuk said.
As for the players, like Carter Barley, they said they love getting to play under the guidance of Waselenchuk.
“It’s been great he’s really helpful and if you’re playing a bad game he’ll let you know and that’s very helpful to most of these guys. And him stressing that you have to be better is kind of helping a lot of guys,” Barley said.
Last season, the Beavers lost in the National Championship game which Waselenchuk says was a good reminder for this season.
“To see a great team down at the other end of the ice celebrating and enjoying it and then enjoying it for a week after is always tough to see but I know it was motivating,” Waselenchuk said. “It kind of gave you chills in a weird way watching a lot of our guys watching them celebrating leaving the locker room and seeing what that was all about for the other team, that kind of stuff sticks with you and is certainly motivating.”
And to get back to the big stage and bring the trophy back to the Magic City won’t be easy.
“I think last year we were working on just being a hard team to play in games, throwing our body around, but we got a couple of young guys that we brought in to be more goal scorers,” Barley said. “I think scoring goals is probably the key this year, last year we didn’t have that many goals so this year it’s definitely scoring more goals on that national stage.”
“Our defensive zone coverage. I think we have to get better in our d zone. we lacked a little bit of attention to detail in a couple of those areas” Waselenchuk said. “Things that the season is still early and I thought we did a lot of good things but I thought we did a lot of things that we definitely have to clean up here.”
Along with bringing in young scorers, the team is also returning most of the guys from last year’s team including six defensemen, which Waselenchuk said will be huge.
“Keeping the puck out of our end is obviously the best offense, so I love our back end,” Waselenchuk said. “We brought in a Freshman goalie Jake Anthony who was fantastic Thursday in Jamestown, Riley Wallace is back, Sophomore with a great pedigree and he was fantastic Friday and we’ve got 12 forwards we are confident can put the puck in at any given night so we’re a pretty well-rounded team and I like where we are at right now.”
Barley is just one of the veterans on the team. He was named National Rookie of the year during his freshman year. He said he isn’t focusing on the accomplishment but working on continuing to grow as a player.
“Just try not to think about it as much just play how I know I can play. I have good teammates here that will help me just keep moving forward and get better this year,” Barley said.
With such a long season Waselenchuk said focusing on one game at a time is the key to becoming champions once again.
“I know that sounds so cliché but March is a long way away,” Waselenchuk said. “We got to do things on the ice in practice every day the right way and continue to build the fundamentals for everything we do and little by little that’s how you build it. Brick by brick is kind of our motto here, every day get a little better and do something a little better.”
The Beavers return to the ice on Friday, Oct. 15 when they host Liberty University at the Maysa Arena.