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Weekend series against Cyclones prepares Warriors for upcoming hockey season

Waldorf freshman Nick Johnson brings the puck up the ice against Iowa State on Saturday at the Albert Lea Ice Arena.

By Diana Stetson

A young Waldorf Warriors hockey team gained invaluable experience on the ice during a pair of season-opening scrimmages against the Iowa State University Cyclones over the weekend.

It was an eye-opening experience for a handful of young Warriors as they braved the ice for the first time in their collegiate careers in back to back games.

With 14 returners and 10 freshmen, the young Warriors fiercely battled the Cyclones only to fall short of a victory.

“It’s tough when you fall behind the eight-ball early like we did and chase the game all night,” Waldorf head coach Brett Shelanski said. “Things fell apart a little bit there, especially in the second [period].

A lot of guys played their first college hockey games tonight,” he added. “I think that some of the inexperience showed. We didn’t stick to our systems consistently. I felt that we lost some battles, some foot races, some puck races, and some 50-50 pucks that we didn’t get to. Like I said, we just didn’t execute our systems the way that we had talked about.

[The Cyclones] are a very experienced team, a very deep team [with] guys that have played a lot of games; skilled hockey players,” Shelanski said. “Definitely a learning experience for us. So, we’ll try and learn from this and regroup and be better tomorrow.”

The youthful Warriors did exactly that, playing a much more competitive game the following night. Puck for puck, the Warriors raced hard and fast up and down the ice showing their strength and determination. Despite their exceptional efforts, however, the Warriors fell to the Cyclones once again.

“They were a lot calmer today,” Shelanski said after Saturday’s game. “Better decision making with the puck, more confident in what they did. I think that it made a big difference getting their feet wet last night, as painful as it may have been; it was better today.

“The guy’s mindsets were actually in a good place considering what happened last night. They were hungry to come out here and play better, and they did. They did a lot of the things better. We stuck to our game plan a little bit better and competed harder, competed smarter, and more consistently.

“I think that was the key difference. Five-on-five it’s a zero-zero hockey game. I think every goal was special teams. We fell short in the end, but there was improvement.”

Waldorf’s lone senior, Ryan Veillet, also saw growth amongst his young teammates.

“It was a little rocky, but tonight was a lot better, so we’re improving,” he said. “I feel like the more we play we just keep getting better game by game. Then hopefully we can get a win.

“I am just hoping that it comes down to team; we’ve all got to buy in and when everyone starts clicking that is when the individual stats start doing good,” Veillet added.

Ryan Veillet, a 5-foot-10 forward, led the team last season with 10 goals and 11 assists.