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Ready or not, here they come. After months of anticipation, the Nazareth College men’s hockey team is ready to take flight.
Armed with an experienced head coach and a roster of 36 players, the Golden Flyers started practice Monday (Oct. 15) at the Sports Centre at MCC with the same cautious optimism that characterizes even the most experienced programs. The difference, of course, is that Nazareth will be competing in its first intercollegiate season in 2012-13. The Golden Flyers host Geneseo in their first game Thursday, October 18, at 7 p.m. -- with just three days of practice under their belt.
“It’s been an enjoyable process for me,” said head coach George Roll, who was hired in the summer of 2011 and took on the arduous task of assembling the first team. “I‘m pretty happy with where we’re at and I’m excited to be back on the bench.”
Roll has 15 years of college head coaching experience, including eight at Division I Clarkson. He’ll be assisted by Jared DeMichiel, a former standout goalie at RIT, and Rory Fitzpatrick, a local standout whose 18-year pro career included nearly 300 games in the National Hockey League.
Roll also added that he is pleased the enthusiasm his players have displayed in leading up to the Golden Flyers’ inaugural season. The team selected Jordan Ciccarello, Scott Dawson and Ben Waldman as team captains and they’ve been able to organize captains’ practices in anticipation of Monday’s first official practice.
“With the unique situation that we have, we needed these three guys to take charge,” Roll said. “Playing competitive hockey is a key part of why they came here, so I know they’re looking forward to the first game.”
Nazareth will play a 25-game regular-season schedule and will play in the ECAC West with Elmira, Hobart, Manhattanville, Neumann and Utica. The first four games will be non-conference contests with the first conference game set for Nov. 3 at Utica. Home games will be played at the Sports Centre at MCC, a 15-minute drive from the Nazareth campus.
“For us, it will be a matter of believing in the process,” Roll said. “I want our guys to work hard and be disciplined and control the things that we’re capable of controlling.”
In preparation for opening night, there will be a tailgate party for the Nazareth community in the Cabaret on campus from 4-6 p.m. Foam fingers and t-shirts will be given away. There also will be free shuttle bus service to and from the arena. Buses will depart from the Shults Center at 5:45 and 6:25 p.m. and returning to campus at 9 and 9:40 p.m.
Founded in 1924, Nazareth College is located on a close-knit, suburban campus in the dynamic, metropolitan region of Rochester, N.Y. The College offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs in health and human services, education, and management. Nazareth's strong cultures of service and community prepare students to be successful professionals and engaged citizens. The College enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students.