The florescent lights of Redwood City’s Nazareth Ice Oasis snap to life at 11 p.m. sharp every Sunday, illuminating the crisp red and blue lines on the rink ice that soon turn into fine powder by the steel skates of the SF State hockey team.
The late practices, which often last until 1:30 a.m., are a testament to the team’s hunger for wins in the wake of a disappointing 2014 season. New acquisitions have fueled the squad’s appetite, according to players and head coach Dakota Yackel, who said they look forward to a fresh start.
“I’m most excited about the new talents we have this year,” said returning player Corey Bemis. “I think they are really going to help the team.”
Bemis said he expects a fun season ahead of him and said he hopes the team can start winning.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with the new guys and building chemistry with them, which is important to helping us win,” Bemis said.
Yackel, who took over the job with only two games remaining last year, said he looks forward to improving the program and gaining recognition at SF State.
“We have a handful of new guys that we can depend on, and players have been practicing a lot in the summer,” Yackel said. “I’ve seen a lot of improvements on offense and defense.”
One of the team’s new additions, goalie Patrick Maris, said he is confident that this season will be better than previous ones. Maris said he learned new techniques from studying abroad in the United Kingdom last semester that have made him a better goalie.
“I am going to make a positive impact with the team,” Maris said. “I’m a very good goalie. I’ve been conditioning with the rest of the team, and I will do whatever it takes to help us win.”
Maris‘ mentality is one reason why the team said they are optimistic about the upcoming season and hope they start winning. “I’m ready for the season, that’s for sure,” Maris said.
Bemis believes that working as a team is the key to having a good year.
“(We need to) focus on keeping our heads up when we get knocked down because there are going to be a lot of big bodies, making sure to pass and don’t do everything yourself,” Bemis said.
With the first game of the season approaching against University of California, Davis Oct. 3, Yackel said he hopes to keep his players focused.
“I want them to have an ‘I want to win’ mindset and give it their all,” Yackel said.