IceJacks D-II captains ‘a huge part of keeping the guys together’
As Northern Arizona University’s ACHA Division II team eyes the upcoming national tournament, an early-season slump actually invigorated that hunger to get back to the national stage.
After a sluggish 1-4-1 start, the IceJacks have lost just twice since then.
NAU coach Travis Johanson credits the team’s leadership group of Lucas Lomax, Max Mahood, Jordan Nolan and Steven Thompson for the resounding turnaround.
“As a group, they have all stepped up to lead the team together,” said Johanson. “They are a huge part of keeping the guys together and their chins up after that start. It shows now at the end of the season when we are in a position for a bye at the national tournament.”
Mahood said Nolan was a major factor in the team’s improvement.
“Jordan put a lot of work in with the defensemen and their positioning and systems,” said Mahood. “The team has a huge buy in factor and wanted to get better and better. We have a team that wants to win and who wants to sacrifice and work hard for the squad, so it’s in the realm of possibilities.”
“Lomax and Thompson became motivators in the locker room while Mahood kind of took a more in-your-face approach towards guys that needed to pick up their play,” added Nolan. “I think our leadership had a big impact in a positive way.”
Thompson said the turnaround was due to more than just the captains.
“There are a lot of older veterans on the team that helped hold the group together after that tough start and since then, we’ve been rolling,” he said.
“I think losing that many games that early in the season was kind of a wake-up call because the past two seasons, we had such strong starts where we went undefeated for a while,” Lomax added. “We had to look ourselves in the mirror and reevaluate what our team’s identity was going to be.”
Photo/Wyatt Rutt Photography
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 19, 2019)