By Dylan Powell, Head Sports Writer
Photos from iStock and Mckendree University
The Men’s Division II Hockey Team split their two-game series versus Maryville University this past weekend, which was the season opener for the Bearcats. With the new season underway, a notable newcomer made his coaching debut for the team. Head Coach Alec Nichols begins his tenure with the team after graduating from McKendree in 2020, having played on the Men’s Hockey team for four years.
“It feels great to be back on staff here at McKendree. Having a first coaching job at a school you are familiar with, while having staff and administration you knew as a student, made it easier to settle in and get a confident start,” said Nichols when asked about his return to McKendree.
Although he is no longer a player for the program, coming in to coach has been just as rewarding. “The time preparation is long but expected. Between film, practice schedules, organizing travel, communicating with [the] workout center and teachers to ensure the athletes are successful everywhere—it is a lot that most people don’t think about when they hear that you coach, but it’s part of the job and something we are working through to make the students as successful as possible in every aspect in life, not just hockey.”
This week, we also spoke with Adam Siek, the Junior Goalie from Hamilton, Ontario on the preparation and expectations for the DII Hockey Team this season. “A lot of preparation has happened since we got back together as a team. We have an older core group of guys who have been through a lot over their years at Mckendree, who have been huge leaders in getting this season started.”
When asked about team and personal goals, Siek said family and brotherhood drives this team to be the best it can be. “We have a tight-knit group of guys that are willing to give it their all for each other, which is the best thing you can ask for.” He also speaks on the influence of those who are older than him, guiding him through his third season with the team.
“For me personally, I know it is the majority of these guys last year and I just want to make their final season a good one, by giving it my all every game for the older guys who shaped me into the way I am.”
Moving forward, Siek knows what needs to get better as they continue with the season.
“Throughout the Maryville series we showed a lot of resiliency and no quit. We were giving it all for each other but in the end we need to be more conditioned if we want to be successful in the future. We had a slow start in the first game against Maryville and in the third period we came out and dictated the outcome. Some things we can work on to be more successful would be our on-ice communication, but that will come as the season goes on, as well as our team chemistry, we will be doing more team bonding outside of the rink. Which improves how we are as a team but also some unforgettable memories for the boys.”
So far, the Bearcats have scored six goals this season, two by Derek Northrop and Cayden Brilley, while Jacob Welch and Blakely Robinson have one each. Brilley also has an assist, along with Tyler Estermyer, Daniel Nomerstad, Tyler Mann, and Mitchell Westbrock. They travel to Peoria, Illinois to play Bradley University on October 1 and 2 at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to continue the season and pick up where they left off this past weekend. Congratulations and best of luck to Coach Nichols and the Men’s DII Hockey Team on the rest of their season!