Connor Van Hulzen – Staff Writer
The Dordt University Hockey team finished their season on Feb. 5 with a 7-1 loss to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. However, their final game of the year won’t be the lasting legacy of the team. Instead, the memories of one of Dordt Hockey’s greatest seasons in history will live on.
Dordt Hockey’s webpage dates back to the 2011-2012 season. Of those seasons listed, no team finished with a record over .500. The 2021-2022 edition of Dordt Defenders Hockey is the first team to exceed the .500 mark in ten years with a final record of 13-9.
The Defenders’ roster this season featured a strong veteran presence as well as significant youth. Of the 22 players, the roster listed eight seniors and seven freshmen.
Balancing fresh talent with the battle-tested experience of tenured players allowed Dordt to finish the season ranked 21st in the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s rankings of Division 3 teams.
“I loved [this season],” senior forward Jacob Petrie said. “It was one of our most successful seasons in recent memory. We had a bunch of new kids on the team, and we were able to mix the young and the old in a way that worked out well. I was very happy to finish the season ranked 21st.”
The closest road game of the season boasted a two-hour drive to Omaha. The team also traveled to Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. Despite the hectic schedule, the Defenders found themselves outpacing many club teams from much larger schools and experiencing success that has not come around in quite some time.
“It is exciting to be good,” senior defenseman Rylan Brue said. “I think this is the first step in terms of the hockey program getting a lot better. We’ve become comfortable with being a program that isn’t always putting up losing seasons.”
For seniors like Brue, this season represented the culmination of years of work on the ice together. Having put up with years of losing hockey, the team’s recent victories were a welcome change for the seniors who experienced a combined record of 9-34-2 over the course of their first three years of college hockey.
“It’s a little weird to think that because I played with some of these guys in high school, we’ve played together for a total of eight years,” Brue said. “Having a really good last season with this group of guys was really cool. We stuck it out for three losing seasons and then to finish with a final winning season in our senior year – it was a good way to end.”
As Dordt Hockey says goodbye to their eight seniors who started to turn the tide of history, they hope to navigate to a bright future and continue their winning ways.