By Josh Kaskinen | Photos: JKP | Logo: UNM Lobo Hockey
With roughly half of their 2019-2020 campaign in the books, the University of New Mexico Lobos hockey team is ready to hit the ground running in the new year, and they are doing so in style by hosting an outdoor tournament, the second annual Nuclear Shootout in Los Alamos.
For this year’s edition of the event, three other teams will be joining the Lobos, including two returning clubs and one new, but not altogether unfamiliar, team. Returning to Los Alamos from a year ago are the Northern Arizona University Ice Jacks, as well as the Dallas Baptist University Patriots. The new team this year is the Missouri State University D3 Ice Bears, a team that the Lobos faced earlier this season at their barn in Springfield, Missouri for the Route 66 Showcase.
The Nuclear Shootout event was born from an idea between the Lobos and Dallas Baptist, who played a single outdoor exhibition game in Los Alamos on a morning between two regular season games between the two teams in Albuquerque in 2018. The following year, the Lobos hosted the full-fledged tournament for the first time, featuring themselves, DBU, NAU and Nebraska. Unfortunately, the weather prevented the tournament from reaching a full conclusion, as the Sunday morning championship game between Dallas Baptist and Nebraska was cancelled due to snowy conditions.
UNM’s Jarrod Ronquillo prepares to take a faceoff against Nebraska during last year’s Los Alamos Nuclear Shootout.
Wet and snowy conditions were present during the first annual Los Alamos Nuclear shootout, as seen here in a game between Nebraska and Dallas Baptist.
As for the strength and position of these teams heading into this weekend’s tournament, there is a wide variety. The newcomers, Missouri State, are the mostly highly ranked and will likely be the favorites to come out on top in this competition. As of the most recent ACHA Division 3 rankings that came out on December 13, the Ice Bears came in at number 6 in the Pacific division. They currently have a record of 9-5, and have 8 wins in their past ten games. During the Route 66 Showcase, MSU easily defeated UNM by a score of 7-1.
The Lobos have had a bit of an up down start to their season. Currently with a record of 6-9, UNM is ranked 19th in the Pacific Division out of 25 teams. With two months remaining in the regular season, a good performance in this tournament could give the Lobos the boost that they need to win some games going forward and start climbing up the rankings.
The Ice Jacks are the weakest team in the field heading into the Nuclear Shootout. At 1-11, Northern Arizona is 24th in the Pacific Division rankings, ahead of only winless Southern Illinois Edwardsville. They have already faced the Lobos in two series this season, once in Flagstaff and once in Albuquerque, and have been outscored by a total of 21-5 in those four games. The Ice Jacks will certainly have their work cut out for them this weekend, but Lobos fans should never count out such a familiar opponent.
The final team of this year’s Nuclear Shootout is Dallas Baptist University. As an ACHA Division 2 opponent, this weekend will be the only time this season that the Lobos will face the Patriots. The Lobos haven’t seen this team since the game in Los Alamos a year ago, in which the Patriots claimed a 6-3 victory. At 9-12, this hasn’t been DBU’s best season compared to recent years, but they still should be a tough squad. In the most recent Division 2 rankings, the Patriots find themselves in the bottom half of the West Division, coming in at 28th of 41 ranked teams. They will certainly have their eyes set on an appearance in the championship game, as they earned a spot last year but were not able to compete for the title.
For three Lobo players, this tournament is an opportunity to play in front of friends and family in a familiar location. Goalie Sam Fisher and forwards Jared Carnes, Isaac Dunwoody and Jacob Dunwoody all either call Los Alamos their hometown, or played youth or high school hockey there. Their familiarity with the rink, and the support that they are sure to have in the stands could lead to a big weekend for any of those four players.
This tournament is a great chance for hockey fans in northern New Mexico to see the sport played at a high level in a unique environment. Los Alamos County Ice Rink is the only outdoor rink in the state of New Mexico, so to see college athletes playing there in unpredictable conditions will be a treat for any fan. Games get underway on Friday night at 5:15pm when NAU takes on MSU. A three day pass can be purchased for $30, or single day tickets are available as well.
- #17 Jarrod Ronquillo- 18 goals, 11 assists
- #95 Chance Shanks- 11 goals, 18 assists
- #4 Marcus Trujillo- 5 goals, 12 assists
- #9 Reed Harbison- 7 goals, 4 assists
- #17 Matthew Songstad- 4 goals, 7 assists
- #8 Spence Cowand- 24 goals, 16 assists
- #2 Trenton Lee- 14 goals, 23 assists
- #29 Brett Stevens- 7 goals, 20 assists
- #90 Ted Cardinale- 9 goals, 7 assists
- #19 Christopher Reda- 7 goals, 6 assists
- #50 Graham Nave- 4 wins, 3.77 GAA, .899 SV%
- Friday Jan 10, 5:15pm- NAU vs. MSU
- Friday Jan 10, 8pm- UNM vs DBU
- Saturday Jan 11, 9am UNM vs NAU
- Saturday Jan 11, 11:30am MSU vs DBU
- Saturday Jan 11, 5:30pm UNM vs. MSU
- Saturday Jan 11, 9pm NAU vs DBU
- Sunday, Jan 12, 10am Championship
2020 Nuclear Shootout Results
- Fri Jan 10, UNM 2 vs DBU 6
- Sat Jan 11, UNM 4 vs NAU 2
- Sat Jan 11, UNM 9 vs. MSU 2
- Sun, Jan 12, DBU 9 v UNM 1
Dallas Baptist University is the 2020 Nuclear Shootout Tournament Champion. Tournament recap will be coming shortly.