When you are a second year coach and bring in 13 new players to your program, you don’t expect untested talent to gel quickly and get results fast, but that is exactly what is happening for coach Rob Hutchison and his young Skidmore team. The Thoroughbreds have opened the season at 5-1-0 in conference play and 5-2-0 overall, with key wins over Massachusetts-Boston and Norwich to help accelerate the team’s growth curve.”We are learning on the fly,” said Hutchison. “Last year we really focused on a culture shift for the program and it was great we got everyone to buy-in. We didn’t really get the results we wanted but we felt we were headed in the right direction. This year we brought in half a new team, 13 first-year players we thought had talent but don’t know how it translates to the ice in a college game. I don’t think we expected where we are right now so quickly but there have been a lot of conversations and interactions with the players along the way and they continue to grow and improve every day.”Two guys instrumental in helping with the culture are seniors Anthony Bird and Marc Cibelli. Both are captains and currently lead the team in goals and points. Bird already has two short-handed goals this season, including the game-winning goal against Massachusetts-Boston, while Cibelli has been equally productive on the power play, where Skidmore is converting at a 24 percent success rate early in the season.”Marc and Anthony have been great,” noted Hutchison. “Really all the upperclassmen have had to be with so many new faces in the room. They haven’t had a lot of success here but want to leave their mark on the program and have it a better place than when they came. They lead by example and have a ton of desire and not an ounce of quit in them. It has been exciting to see that translate to the young players on the ice. The team has a willingness to compete for 60 minutes or more and the outcomes so far have been a direct result of that.”Any successful team needs to be strong from the crease out, and Skidmore is no exception with senior Jack McDonald and freshman Brandon Kasel splitting time this season and posting very similar numbers in three games apiece to open the season. Both have goals-against averages of two or less and save percentages at .940 or higher.”Jack has kind of been the man here for four years and he is off to a great start for us,” stated Hutchison. “We actually have three guys we like but Brandon has stepped in right away and done a great job. There is a really healthy competition among the goalies but they really do support each other and are terrific teammates. Most importantly, the team likes playing in front of any of them so we are blessed to have a lot of strength at that position.”Skidmore finishes the first half with their annual Thanksgiving tournament and a two-game set at home against nationally ranked Hobart to close out the semester.”We love the diversity in playing styles that the tournament brings with Conn College, Neumann from the ECAC West, and Fitchburg State,” said Hutchison. “We don’t know a lot about these teams so we are going to have to grow from a little adversity as we react to things real-time in games against teams we don’t have a lot of scouting on. It will be the next step in seeing how we continue to grow as a team and how the younger players respond to different situations.”If the first seven games are any indication, these young Thoroughbreds may be ready to run for the big prizes come March.
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