Arizona Rubber

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IceJacks’ D-II team hoping for fast start, early-season momentum

 

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The new season is here for Northern Arizona University, and with that comes renewed confidence and optimism for the IceJacks’ players and coaches.

For NAU’s Division II team, coach Travis Johanson has a dozen returning forwards and a mix of new and returning defensemen, including two new blueliners moving up from the program’s Division III team in Dain Austin and Nick Pizzy.

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“Our expectations are simple and realistic, I believe,” said Johanson. “We want to be back at the national tournament with another bye. Then we want to make it further in the tournament, hopefully playing in the crossover, semifinals and finals.”

“The speed and tempo at tryouts have really picked up since prospect camp,” added NAU assistant coach Kris Walsh. “The overall pace of play is increasing with the recruits. With a positive attitude and dedication to the team system, we should see some improvement in both teams from last season.”

Johanson said to get to the national tournament, the players have to buy in to the NAU process, which starts with being held accountable.

“Success for us will be in molding a new group together to be the best they can be and hoping that will reflect on the ice throughout the year and result in the expectations we have for the national tournament,” said Johanson.

The IceJacks kick off the season with a four-game road swing Sept. 28-Oct. 1 in Mandan, N.D., playing the University of Mary, Williston State, University of Denver and Boise State University in consecutive days.

“We will have a tough test right off the bat,” said Johanson.

NAU hosts Grand Canyon University Oct. 5-6 at the Jay Lively Arena in Flagstaff to open the home portion of the schedule.

— Matt Mackinder

(Sept. 24, 2018)