IceJacks finding rookies, veterans ‘meshing extremely well’
The Northern Arizona University ACHA Division 2 team is off to a fast start, and while much of the success can be attributed to the talent on the ice, coach Travis Johanson said it’s also due to the “unbelievable chemistry” the IceJacks have shown between the returning players and nine newcomers this season.
With a 10-1-0 start, NAU was ranked No. 1 in the West Region as of mid-November.
Not all nine (pictured) are freshmen, though. They all came from different backgrounds prior to this season, from NCAA Division III hockey to Midget AAA hockey.
“When you add nine new guys into the mix, you really never know what you’ll get at first,” said Johanson. “But these guys have come right in, established themselves, and really have given us an added dimension of depth. They are all top-end guys who are meshing extremely well with our returning guys.”
“One added element to this team, due to the talent level, is that every time they are on the ice, they have to compete to be there,” added NAU assistant coach Kris Walsh. “It’s definitely a good thing, from a coaching standpoint, to have players pushing each other to be better every day.”
Junior defenseman Beau Browning grew up playing for the Phoenix Firebirds and Jr. Coyotes programs and played NCAA D-III hockey for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Freshman forwards Malachi Bushey (Tucson), Brendan Jester and Tegan Harrington skated in the North American 3 Hockey League for Great Falls.
Freshman defenseman Jordan Nolan (Phoenix) is a Jr. Coyotes and Arizona Bobcats graduate, junior Kristjan Toivola has previous ACHA experience at Central Oklahoma and McKendree and junior forward Desmond Conley has played well so far.
Freshman defenseman Michael Emson (Phoenix) is another Bobcats alum and freshman Davis Holmes is a California product.
— Matt Mackinder
(Dec. 4, 2017)