Hockey Team Preparing

The Western Michigan University hockey team concluded the first week of skate arounds and it's now just 25 days until the initial game of the 2002-3 Bronco season.

NCAA rules only allow eight hours of practice per week without sticks or pucks until the full practice schedule kicks in on Oct. 1, meaning for now, the skaters are gym rats.

"We're waiting for pucks. Normally, if your skating your in trouble so we are ready to get to our sticks and get some pucks out there," assistant captain Dave Cousineau said.

The team spends Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on the ice but only for one hour each day. Once on the ice the coaching staff runs a series of drills with Monday and Friday established as the agility days and Wednesday is reserved for the more conditioning oriented drills.

"My legs are a little sore. It was kind of a shock but we only have three weeks to get down to it, so we have to bear down early," assistant captain Paul Davies said.

Head coach Jim Culhane has a few rough ideas about the offensive lines and defensive pairings but for now it's still too early.

Sophomore goalie Mike Mantua received valuable experience last year backing up senior Jeff Rynaert but the job is still up for grabs. Freshmen Scott Foster, Naperville, Ill. is expected to challenge Mantua along with classmate Eric Marvin.

"We're excited to see what happens with the goalies and who's going to step up," Cousineau said.

Alongside the class of freshmen is first year goaltending coach Allan Avery who was skating with the team both Wednesday and Friday.

"This is great. I've been welcomed with open arms by all the coaches and the guys on the team have been real accepting," Avery said.

A former Bronco recruit, Avery looks forward to working with the trio of goaltenders.

"One of the things I stress is that we don't let any goals through us or around us," Avery said.

The Broncos returned home Sunday night from a chemistry-building tubing trip in Northern Michigan where the returning players got to know the seven freshmen a little better.

The high-spirited skate arounds will continue through the month plus weight lifting on Monday and Wednesday mornings and some running on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Lawson Ice Arena see its' first action on Oct. 12 against Bowling Green State University. The game has been pushed back to 8:05 p.m. to accommodate the football game.

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