UNM hockey has charged out of the gates this 2017-18 season, picking up four wins to start the campaign.
The team made things look easy during the first two weeks of the season, crushing its opponents in the first three games before finally meeting some resistance in the fourth.
Team captain and wing player Austin Short said he has been pleased with the way the team has performed to begin the season and welcomes the hot start.
“It’s been a good start so far,” he said. “Things are clicking so far this season and it’s nice to be 4-0.”
Short has been a big part of the team’s early success, tied with center Jaxson Farnholtz with nine points for the team lead. The team captain has accounted for five goals and four assists in the team’s four wins, a release said.
New Mexico (4-0) won both games on the road in the opening series against Grand Canyon by a margin of seven goals. The Lobos earned a 7-0 shutout on Friday, Sept. 29 and continued to dominate with a 10-3 victory the following day.
The Lobos then returned home to host Colorado School of Mines for a pair of games. UNM picked up its third lopsided win by remaining aggressive on offense to outscore its opponent 7-2 on Friday, Oct. 6 moving 3-0 on the season.
However, New Mexico found itself in trouble late in Saturday’s game, and it looked as though it might be dealt its first loss. Short said the team trailed by a score of 3-1 with about five minutes remaining in the game, before the team mounted a comeback to force overtime.
The Lobos ultimately prevailed in overtime, notching the decisive goal and emerging with a 4-3 victory to sweep the weekend over Colorado School of Mines.
Short said he couldn’t think of anything specific the team needs to clean up but had some individual areas he wants to improve on. He said he hit the post several times in the first four games and wants to work on shooting accuracy to correct that.
He said it is probably still too early to judge the team’s chemistry but said that it should come naturally with time. The team could just be scratching the surface of its potential, as that chemistry will likely lead to crisper passing and even more scoring opportunities.
New Mexico is one of five teams that are currently undefeated in the Pacific Division of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, though not every team has played an equal number of games.
The team is off to a great start in its quest to qualify for postseason play, but things will get tough as New Mexico prepares to host Colorado Mesa (3-2-1) on Friday, Oct. 13 and Saturday, Oct. 14.
Short said that are some tough tests ahead — and this weekend will be a big one for the team. Plus, UNM might be missing its leading goal scorer from last season, center Nate Taglialegami, who suffered an injury in the team’s last game.
Both games against Colorado Mesa will be held at the Outpost Ice Arena with a start time of 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5, with a discounted rate of $3 for UNM students with an ID.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.