Lobos off to hot start in ACHA play, jump out with 10 straight wins to begin ’21-22 season
The University of New Mexico hockey team has swept its first five opponents this season, leading the Lobos to a sparkling 10-0-0 record in the early going of the 2021-22 ACHA campaign.
Lobos head coach Grant Harvey said the first portion of the season has gone as planned.
“I scheduled the hardest first third I ever have, and I wanted to get a litmus test of where this team stood right away, and that included scheduling two national playoff-bound teams, which were Air Force and Dallas Baptist,” Harvey said. “We were on the road for six of those 10 ten wins, and I think I can attribute the success to the team building chemistry over the summer as 90 percent of our players played in Lobo league, which is weekly scrimmages where the current Lobos play against the former Lobos.”
Harvey also said that having a stellar pair of netminders has done the trick so far.
“Our two-goalie tandem is working,” said Harvey. “I was previously wearing Sam Fisher out, but I was able to recruit an amazing rookie, Max McKiernan, and both of them have been lights-out for us. The forward lines are working and are firing on all cylinders so far.
“All that said, we are lacking on defense. I had three of my defensemen work on their game all summer. It really shows. I am still lacking that solid fourth defenseman and it could be any of the other three but so far, they aren’t there.”
When asked what players have stood out so far to this point, Harvey responded, “Oh man.”
“I mean, we have had both of my goalies, Sam Fisher and Max McKiernan, playing stellar,” Harvey said. “Jarrod Ronquillo has been playing 100 percent, Logan Lemirande is dominating every game, Logan Colyer plays near perfect every game on ‘D,’ Chance Shanks has taken over games by himself, the duo of Nick Weaver and Zach Ganshaw has been a tremendous force playing great two-way hockey, Seth Payson put us over the top for offensive talent this year, and vets Niko Meneakis and Nate Tagliagami offer solid game play and have been the high scorer of some games.”
In looking at the Lobos’ roster, more than three-fourths of the players are from New Mexico. Harvey says the game is growing in the state, and it couldn’t be more obvious with his club.
“It’s a great way to boast and recruit future New Mexico talent who may feel like leaving the state is their option until they see what we have here,” Harvey said. “You don’t have to go far to play great competitive hockey at UNM. The coaching has been stellar in New Mexico for eight-plus years now, and I attribute that to the former Scorpions who made New Mexico their home and are responsible for the skill set of a lot of these players that I have now and will have.”
Next up, the Lobos take to the road for five straight weeks and also play in a tournament Nov. 5-7 in Missouri with Missouri State, Kansas and Arkansas, who was No. 2 in the nation last year.
“That will be a good measure of where we stand, but we can take them,” said Harvey. “We have to play our game and if we do, we beat them straight up.”
Photos/Zach Price/Lobo Hockey Network
— Matt Mackinder
(October 14, 2021)