Arizona Rubber

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Lobos’ national tourney run yields momentum for ’18-19

 

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University of New Mexico coach Grant Harvey said this past season was 10 years in the making.

The Lobos dominated during the regular season and qualified for the ACHA Division III national tournament last month in Columbus, Ohio. And while UNM didn’t advance past pool play at Nationals, the successful season has done wonders for the program.

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“This has been a decade-long project since I was the captain of this team,” said Harvey. “We built and recruited to be better than the year before and the program has been my baby. It was nice to see it come to fruition, but not only that, but to have it happen to this team. I really rode them hard and took it on the chin and we played spectacular. I am so proud of them and how far this team has come along. We ended up No. 7 in the nation.

“I was so happy and smug when it was over – we showed the nation what we could do. This was no fluke going 2-1 against the top teams in the nation.”

At the national tournament, the Lobos defeated the University of Central Florida and top-ranked Michigan State University.

1200px-New_Mexico_Lobos_logo.svg“My dad was there to watch all of this,” Harvey said. “I owe all my thanks to him when it comes to hockey. When we beat MSU, we looked at each other like, ‘We did it’ and we were both almost in tears. It was an unbelievable end to a magical season.

“We got confidence and experience out of this tournament. We know what the top teams look like so next year, my practices get more complex and we have our eye on the prize and that sets the tone for work ethic and preparation.”

What else went right in Columbus?

“Goaltending two out of the three games – James Bostian played two lights-out games,” said Harvey. “He had one period of lackluster goaltending that period proved to be insurmountable, but James knows I am proud of him. He stopped 50-plus shots against Michigan State for a huge upset. Our offense has always been firing on all cylinders and we put up the goals I predicted we needed to win.”

Harvey added that this season’s team was unique from other UNM teams he’s coached.

“We finally didn’t have any holes in your game,” said Harvey. “Our defense was solid, our goaltending was dependable, and our first line got the piece they needed so badly in Chance Shanks, a rookie who also put up the most points in the tournament. I have two defensemen and one I think is my unsung hero, period, on this team. Logan Colyer is the best player in ACHA Division III hockey. He never makes mistakes and is so solid. Teams know that he is coming for them and eventually takes the puck. It’s that simple. That’s invaluable.”

Two senior forwards – Austin Short and Jaxson Farnholtz – will be tough to replace next year, according to Harvey.

“I really can’t replace Austin and Jaxson,” said Harvey. “They really stepped us this year and put the team on their back on many occasions. I hope to fill their positions with good players, but I just can’t replace them.”

Harvey said game-changers that are for sure coming back for the 2018-19 season are Shanks, Nate Taglialegami, Jarrod Ronquillo, Graeme Chiasson and A.J. Goff.

“Next season, we reload – I’m not taking my foot off the pedal,” said Harvey. “I had a taste of the national tournament and I want more. The whole team wants more. Our town wants more.”

Photo/Hannah Becker

— Matt Mackinder

(April 27, 2018)