Oakland ice hockey goes into season without senior leadership

Zac Grasl, Staff Reporter

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In high school and college athletics, it is incredibly rare to see a team without any seniors on the squad. For this upcoming 2018-2019 season for the Oakland University club ice hockey team, that is the case, as they will be playing this season without any senior leadership. After finishing last season with a record of 16-17-2, the team is looking at getting the younger players experience.

Sophomore center Chase Serno, who is one of the younger leaders on the team, knows although the season will be a challenge, he still believes that people should not sleep on this hockey team.

“Although I consider us to be a team that is rebuilding, I believe we can still make an impact in our league,” he said. “There’s always that one time that everyone underestimates…maybe we can be that team.”

Last season as a freshman, Serno won multiple awards for the ice hockey team. He won the Rookie of the Year award, the Will McMahon Most Valuable Player award, the Brent Cooper Most Valuable Offensive Player award and led the team in goals with 13 goals out of 33 attempts.

“There were so many other guys on the team that deserved those awards,” Serno said. “But my teammates voted for me to win those awards and although I cannot take all the credit, it is a great feeling knowing my hard work has paid off.” 

This team isn’t a stranger to having lack of senior leadership. Last season, the team only had one senior, and now that he has graduated, the two assistant captains from last season, junior forward Chandler Gillespie and junior defenseman Gino Mini are the key players to watch out for this upcoming season.

“I believe that this team is looking at us (Gillespie and Mini) to step up and fill that role as the team’s leaders,” Mini said. “I also believe a couple of other guys such as Greg Meuser have stepped up and filled the role as assistant team captain.”

In one of the toughest leagues in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), most experts and critics have already written off the Golden Grizzlies as a contender of any sorts, but Mini believes that the critics are not giving the team much credit.

“We currently have six players on the team that have been on this team for three years or more, and a large core of second year guys,” Mini said. “To go along with that, we also have five rookies or freshmen. We also have a completely new coaching staff this upcoming season, so that may be a challenge as we are still learning the new schemes and playbook. We will do our best this season and go as hard as we can and as far as we can.”

The team’s season/home opener will be on Friday, Sept. 28 at the ONYX ice arena. The puck drops at 8:40 p.m.