By Josh Kaskinen | Image: Lobo Hockey
Due to the New Mexico Ice Wolves extended homestand, the University of New Mexico Lobos Hockey team has been on the road for awhile now. After an off weekend last week, the Lobos will travel to Springfield, Missouri this weekend to take part in the Route 66 Showcase. The Lobos will play in three games this weekend against a variety of opponents. According to Lobo head coach Grant Harvey, the tournament will feature some high quality teams in their conference. He said “it’s going to be number one, number two and number five in our whole conference so we’re going to be seeing guys who are going to Nationals and in playoff-bound teams.” When asked about his expectations for the Showcase, Harvey said that his team is going to realize the quality of the teams they are facing and find a way to match them. “For some reason there’s some inadvertent force that takes over when you play better teams you elevate your game too because you see that’s how the game’s going to be going. So I’m trying to trying to steal a couple- any win from this tournament will be huge for us at this cuz they’re such underdogs due to our rookie count.”
On Friday night, the Lobos will take on the host of the event, the Missouri State University Ice Bears. This game will begin at 6:00pm Mountain Time and will be broadcast on www.websportsradio.com. The Division 3 Ice Bears are off to a 1-3 start this season, losing two games to the University of Arkansas and splitting with the University of Nebraska. In their lone win, MSU fell behind by four goals in the first and second period before rattling off five straight goals to win the game in overtime.
On Saturday, the Lobos will take to the ice once more, this time against Arkansas. That game will begin at 3:00pm Mountain time. The Razorbacks are in the midst of an impressive 17-1-0 start to their season. Arkansas’s only loss came against the University of Michigan on October 19. The Razorbacks have a high-powered offense as they have scored ten or more goals in four separate games so far this season.
The final game of the showcase for the Lobos will take place on Sunday morning against Kansas. This game is scheduled for a 7:30pm Mountain Time start. The Jayhawks are 5-5-0 to start their season. They have won two series against Creighton University, lost to Arkansas and Dordt College and split with the University of Missouri. This game has a bit of a personal flair for Harvey, who played for one year for Kansas. He expressed his excitement in facing all three teams, but said that “It would be nice to beat my old team.”
It’s been an up and down opening to the 2019-2020 season for UNM, who are heading into the weekend with a record of 4-6-0. They suffered four straight losses against University of Colorado Colorado Springs to open the season before earning two convincing wins at Northern Arizona in week three. In the following week, they gave up nine goals back to back nights in losses to Colorado School of mines, before winning handily both nights at Texas Tech in their most recent series. Harvey said that part of the reason for the struggles in the early going was that “the rookies were getting acclimated to slower play from high-school to college,” but he also expressed faith in his team going forward. “The good part that I learned is that these guys have chemistry and that they have grit and they’re blue-collar workers and they all have heart and hustle so that’s that’s something that can’t be taught”
Following the conclusion of this weekend’s slate of games, the first ACHA Division 3 rankings will be released, so the showcase is the perfect opportunity for the Lobos to make a statement at a crucial point in the season. For Harvey, the hope for the remainder of the season is “that we are getting exponentially better cause every team’s getting better but the only way we’re going to win is if we’re getting if we’re actually getting better faster than the other teams.” With 16 games remaining on their schedule, they still have plenty left to prove before this campaign is through.