The Lehigh men's club varsity ice hockey team runs a drill during practice on Saturday at 10 a.m. on Sept. 12, 2015. The team, which finished 11-14-1 last season, practices four times a week to prepare for the upcoming 2015-2016 Hockey season. (Madeleine Centrella B&W/Photo)

Lehigh ice hockey continues to expand and evolve

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From 2013 to 2014, the Lehigh ice hockey team made significant improvements, more than doubling its win percentage. In 2015, coach Tom Laessig is even more impressed with where his team stands.

“Our first practice was an eye-opener,” Laessig said. “The effort and excitement was the greatest I have ever seen in my tenure.”

The Lehigh ice hockey team opens up its season this weekend against West Virginia University. It is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2014 season, an 11-14-1 effort. Senior defenseman Adam Goldstein reiterated the fact that their team goal is to be better than they were last season.

“Our team goal is to be better than we were last season, as is any team,” Goldstein said. “With that being said, we want to win the games that people don’t expect us to and really make a statement that Lehigh is a force in this league.”

Junior forward Henry Brooks also said how important it is for the team to be on the same page as far as where they want to be this season.

“We, as players, need everyone to contribute,” Brook said. “We need freshmen to step up and play even better than what our coach expects.”

He refers to a recruiting class that was able to bring in a lot of size, speed and physicality, according to Laessig. He also spoke of the impact of having a larger roster this season.

“Our roster is bigger this year which will push each player to work hard in practice to earn more ice time,” he said. “We have returned two juniors Chris Ramondelli and Kevin McGee, who were Top 10 leading scorers last year in the (American College Hockey Association). We have a solid group of upperclassmen who have provided great leadership so far in practice. All the players are working toward a winning season and that first playoff victory.”

A huge part of the team’s increasing success has been the rising level of commitment to the program. Laessig said the fact that in his four year tenure as head coach, they have been able to add three coaches to his staff, a manager and a video crew.

“We have improved our recruiting efforts with ten freshmen added this year,” Laessig said. “We have designed and ordered new uniforms that are more functional and modern. With that being said, the ultimate goal is to improve team performance and standing.”

Many of the players and the coach agree that they are going in the right direction, talking about how well its preseason workouts have gone so far.

“The practices have been faster, better and more intense than I have seen in my last two seasons here,” Goldstein said. “Everyone comes to the rink with a sole determination to get better as a unit. When every player is pushing each other, it shows. No one wants to be the one to slow the team down, so its 100 miles an hour every drill.”

The team has its first game Friday at 9 p.m. in Morgantown, West Virginia.

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