Joshua Meribole-Staff Writer
The game began with an anthem and then the clashing of sticks between the Dordt Blades and Kansas City. Then players were racing and slamming each other to get the puck and put it into the goal.
The games on Friday and Saturday, September 29th and 30th, marked the first of the season for Dordt’s hockey team. Dordt Blades lost 6-7 on Friday and 12-6 on Saturday. Although the Blades lost, the team is hopeful about the future.
“I think we still played hard, but they capitalized on a lot of their chances,” says junior Caleb Groot, a Blades member, regarding the game on Saturday.
During the event on Saturday, many audience members, including junior Jalyn Vander Wal, really got into the game.
“Yeah, that’s right. Trip him!” said Jalyn Vander Wal (loudly), as a Dordt player moved past a Kansas City player, knocking him to the ground.
“Poor refmanship!” she called out to the referee each time that she disputed with the game.
Hockey is the sport that Vander Wal watches most all sports done at Dordt College. Regarding why she gets so into the game, she relates her passion to theater.
“If the audience doesn’t connect through laughter, it’s less interesting; the more they hear us cheering for them, the more hyped they are.”
And, she’s not wrong.
“We love it when big crowd comes, that’s the best,” says senior Pieter Gesink.
During the game on Saturday, although Dordt was losing by 8-2 after the second set, Vander Wal asserted that that there was still hope.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I have got talented kids on our team” says Blades coach Nathan van Niejenhuis. “What we don’t have is a lot of depth, and playing against a team with Kansas’ skillset, I kind of ‘shorten up the bench,’ is what we say. Instead of running 4 lines of forward, I only ran 2 lines forward. So, the guys were skating twice as much than they normally do on Friday night, and I think that was evident on Saturday… the extra work that was put on Friday took its toll: we didn’t have any legs on Saturday.”
Although they lost both games, the Blades look to the future and maintain hopeful outcomes for the semester.
“The first game is always an experience,” Groot said.
Gesink took the time to share some of the team’s goals.
“One of the biggest goals we wrote on the white board at the start of the season was to make the ACHA [American College Hockey Association] play offs—I think that goal is still alive. We still need try to come together as a team a little bit more. But, I think if everyone was able to buy in to what we preach with our system and with what we are trying to teach our team, I think it is an achievable goal.”
“This year,” Groot said, “we step it up in terms of team commitment, adding workouts, and a little more team events, plus late night practice.”
But, Gesink isn’t the only Blades member with high hopes.
“My goal for this season is to be competitive, to be relevant, in every game that we play, but I understand that there will be bumps and bruises along the way… [We] try and enable these players to gel in unity. I would like to see them grow as college hockey players. And, hopefully to create an attitude of winning in the locker room,” said Coach Niejenhuis.
Dordt Blades plays as part of the ACHA. There are three divisions, with over 150 teams on Dordt’s level.
The college hockey club was founded by Niejenhuis’s uncle around 1968, and it continues currently as a club team. Because of this, the Blades do not get any scholarships. However, its team members remain excited, committed and willing to play, and say that they are “doing it for the love of the game.”