Men’s hockey readies for return to rink

Coming off a tough 2-1 loss to Amherst in the NESCAC semifinals last season, men’s ice hockey is looking forward to kicking off the 2012-13 season with strong performances against Bowdoin and Colby this weekend. Opening the season with two conference games presents a significant opportunity for the Ephs not only to test themselves physically and mentally against tough competition, but to get off to a hot start in the NESCAC rankings. The men will once again be led by Head Coach Bill Kangas, who is entering his 24th year at Williams.

Kangas feels that the team has prepared well thus far, weathering grueling practices to build conditioning for the intensity of games. He also attributes some of that preparedness to the work of Strength and Conditioning Coach Rob Livingstone, who, in his second year at Williams, has dramatically raised the intensity in the weight room for most teams.

“We’re many weeks ahead of where we were last year in the weight room … That will only help us [to] be better at recovering from practices and games,” Kangas said.  He further highlighted the importance of having a high level of fitness and flexibility as a key step to preventing injuries, mentioning that the roster is limited this year. “With just 23 guys, we’re lean on numbers,” he said.

As the season unfolds, the Ephs must revamp its composition, having lost four defensemen and a goalie to graduation; they will now rely mostly on their five senior forwards Evan Dugdale ’13, Cody Skinner ’13, Eric Rubino ’13 and co-captains Mark Lyons ’13 and John Wickman ’13 for their experienced leadership. Veteran defenseman Mike Brofft ’13 also brings experience to the Ephs’ roster.

Kangas is pleased with the incoming class, saying that his six rookies “came in really good shape … We had a seamless transition. Some teams would have trouble telling our seniors apart from our freshmen.”

In keeping with his attitude of sustained intensity, Kangas was reluctant to offer too many concrete goals for the team, but his philosophy is unquestionably grounded in a deep competitiveness.“We play to win every game, every period and every shift.” he said. While not overly concerning himself with the postseason at this point, Kangas was excited about his team’s playoff prospects. “We want to host a playoff game. We want to host it all, and we want to win it all,” he said.

After starting their season at Bowdoin on Friday night at 7 p.m., the men will play Colby on Saturday at 3 p.m.