NAU D-III team buying in to IceJacks program, showing positive results
First-year Northern Arizona University Division III coach Ryan Smith sees his IceJacks team as a work in progress, but also a team that is getting better by the day.
Smith said early impressions of the ACHA club are that the team has offensive abilities, the dedication to buy into the program from one of the largest group of incoming players and the desire to learn from their mistakes to ensure the team goals can be met.
“I like that with such a large amount of new members to the team, there has been no major events that lead to adversity within the locker room,” said Smith. “The team has set goals and all of the members have bought in, in order to achieve them.”
Impact players for NAU this season include senior forward Ryan Guevarra, freshman defenseman Nick Pizzey and freshman forward Jakob Nelson.
“Guevarra has remarkable speed, work ethic and confidence with the puck in comparison to previous years with the program,” said Smith. “Pizzey tried out as a forward, but became a defenseman once he joined the team and has excelled to our top pairing of defensemen. He has the ability to see the plays as they develop and make the most important first pass out of the zone to ensure a clean breakout. Nelson’s desire to have and get the puck has proven to be a big asset in both the offensive and defensive zones.”
Moving forward into the second half of the season, Smith’s game plan is simple.
“We need to ensure the desire to continuously work harder and try to get better as a team stays throughout the season,” said Smith. “The majority of this takes place in practices. We also need to push ourselves internally to ensure we are getting the most out of each other to provide the best team game we have each weekend.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Dec. 27, 2017)