Lobos captains the life blood of New Mexico ACHA program
Success for hockey teams often times begins with the talent on the ice.
It can also be argued that greater success comes in the form of stellar leadership.
For the University of New Mexico ACHA team, head coach Grant Harvey has all that this season, and then some.
With five captains this year – Nate Taglialegami, McKenzie Smith, Austin Short, Graeme Chiasson and Logan Colyer – the Lobos are in good hands.
Harvey said his group of captains is an exemplary group.
“Being a captain means a lot to me,” Taglialegami said. “Growing up in New Mexico and being a captain of a university here is very special. I have been a captain on every team I’ve played for, but this team is special. I love having some power to help our rookies and have input on what goes on around our locker room.”
“Nate is one of my highest-skilled forwards and thinks five steps ahead of everyone on the ice,” added Harvey.
Smith, born and raised in Albuquerque, “has a scoring touch, especially these last couple of years, and is trying to end his senior year with a bang. He truly has a gift for hitting the back of the net this year and is a model student with his GPA,” according to Harvey.
Short has been the Lobos’ primary captain for the last two years and is a locker room presence, as well as an on-ice threat. He has also risen to the occasion on many of UNM’s comebacks this year and “will put up four points in a period like it’s nothing,” Harvey beamed.
“UNM hockey represents the highest level of hockey in our state, so when we go out and play for the Lobos, we feel like we are representing New Mexico hockey as a whole,” said Short. “I think we play with a little chip on our shoulder because we are surrounded by states with NHL teams. We are out to show that New Mexico hockey is a legit, tough, skilled brand of hockey.
“Being captain of the team is so special to me – it’s a true honor and one I take very seriously.”
Harvey called Chiasson “one of the most unique players to watch as he has a style of playing that makes it look like the puck is a yo-yo on his stick.”
“We have a fast-growing fan base, meaning students and residents are enjoying the sport and watching the team compete,” Chiasson said. “We seem to be getting better each year and a trip to regionals and nationals would certainly solidify that, as well as our statewide recognition. After Auston Matthews was drafted first overall, it showed the vast growth of hockey outside of typical hockey climates and I hope our program can help to grow the sport here in New Mexico, giving youth a place to compete and mature.”
When it comes to strong skating, Colyer is that player for the Lobos.
“Logan is the most fundamentally-sound hockey player I have ever coached,” Harvey said. “He skates near perfect and he is strong on his skates.”
“I think we keep the momentum through the spring by staying focused,” said Colyer. “Right now, it’s easy to start slacking off with the holidays upon us and the semester nearing its end, but it’s important for every single player to be preparing themselves mentally and physically for the next half of the season. We can’t assume the second half of the season will be like our first and go into the next few games as if we’ve already won.
“We’ve got a tough schedule ahead of us, so this is the time to dig deep and test our character as an organization.”
Photo/Isaiah Orozco Photography
— Matt Mackinder
(Dec. 22, 2017)