Arizona Rubber

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Overcoming adversity, NAU D-II team finding ways to pick up wins

 

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It’s inevitable.

Every hockey team has to battle adversity in one way, shape or form over the course of the long season.

Whether it’s bad bounces in games, injuries or any other reason, good teams find ways to overcome these obstacles.

That’s been the story so far this season for the Northern Arizona University ACHA Division II team, a squad that was 11-6-1 entering December.

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8133_northern_arizona_lumberjacks-wordmark-2005“We’ve been a tale of trials and tribulations this season,” said IceJacks coach Travis Johanson. “With all of our injuries, though, we’ve had guys step up and pull the rope, so to speak. All we can do is keep going forward here.”

Forwards Reise Kieffer, Max Mahood and Desmond Conley have all missed substantial time recently for the IceJacks. All three are key players for NAU with Mahood being at or near the top of team scoring much of the season. He entered December with 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points in 15 games. Only Lucas Lomax (31 points) had found the scoresheet more in 2018-19.

One notable player for NAU has been senior forward and Phoenix native Kyle Erwin, who was recently called up from the NAU Division III team, where he had been serving as team captain. In one of his first games with his new team, Erwin notched a power-play goal against Weber State University on Nov. 29 at home.

Mission AZ graduate and NAU freshman Dimitri Thorsen recently joined the IceJacks and has been a welcome addition on the blue line. The Peoria native skated last season for the Eastern Hockey League’s Philadelphia Jr. Flyers.

“Kyle and Dimitri have been pleasant surprises for us and we’re certainly excited to have them both here moving forward,” said Johanson. “We have a long way to go, but we’re looking forward to getting some guys healthy and ready for the second half.”

Photo/Wyatt Rutt Photography

— Matt Mackinder

(Dec. 27, 2018)