LMU confident on all fronts entering 2017-18 ACHA season
For the past several years, the biggest problem Loyola Marymount University faced was adversity.
The team’s brass is optimistic that changes this season.
Tyler Goeckner-Zoeller is the program’s general manager and said the goals are high for the Lions as the 2017-18 season is just around the corner.
“We have a much brighter outlook going forward,” said Goeckner-Zoeller. “At the ACHA level, and with a small university like LMU (6,500 undergrads), it’s not easy to restock your team. When you build and build, but then lose 19 kids over one offseason, it was tough to get going again. I give our team the last few years credit for battling hard with short rosters each season.
“However, now with 13 freshmen and a very young team, we only graduate four players over the next two years. We are in full build mode. I think the team has the chance to gel this year and over the next couple of seasons, I’d expect the LMU team to be back at regionals and pushing for a spot at nationals is the goal for this group that is getting started.”
On the ice, LMU head coach Joe Trotta explained that the onus will be on a core of returning players – forwards Matt Boente (pictured below) and Athan Tsokolas, defensemen Will Fraipont and David Valencia and goalie Jake Blazier (pictured top) – to keep the improvement process gaining full momentum.
“Our chemistry will be good,” said Trotta. “It is our job as coaches to create a culture that allows individuals to maximize their development and enjoyment of the game. Our foundation is a culture of support, respect, accountability and unselfishness. It is a tremendous testament to all our returning players that they have created this foundation. This will help the new players transition into the college game because they enter into a very healthy environment that has been established by the returning players.”
That said, Trotta is very elated about the Lions’ freshman class.
“As for the freshmen, at this point, I prefer to view them as a group that brings us strength in numbers,” Trotta said. “As the season progresses, some will take on higher roles and with the increase in roster size and we can let that progression occur naturally. Right now, we are happy that each and every one of them chose to attend LMU.
“My outlook for the upcoming season is very positive. The biggest reason for my optimism is the fact that our numbers will increase substantially from last year. Many games we were in survival mode playing with a short bench. This resulted in players playing out of position as well as taking on roles that weren’t a natural fit for the individual. This season with a full roster, we can place players in the lineup in roles that fit their strengths. This will certainly maximize each player’s skill set and place them in positions that will give them the best opportunity for individual and team success. A full roster also gives our coaching staff the ability to work more efficiently on team structure in practice, optimizing our ability to prepare for games.”
When looking to the future, Goeckner-Zoeller can’t help but beam at the potential LMU has.
“The short-term vision is obviously to use this surge to grow the program,” said Goeckner-Zoeller. “With our greatest successes being qualifying for regionals two seasons in a row, we want to do that over the next four seasons and beyond. When you’re playing against mostly schools that are four times as big as you, cheaper, and easier academically to get in to, the fact that our program has succeeded is a testament to our players and the desire to be a great hockey team.
“Long term, the goal is to make LMU hockey an NCAA Division I program, which I personally see as a great fit. Time will tell.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Sept. 21, 2017)