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At top, The men's ice hockey team played the HC Valvenosta in Laces, Italy over Christmas break while touring Europe and playing several games. At right, members of the team take in the sights in Innsbruck, Austria.

Below, Wesleyan plays the Caldaro Under-26 squad in Caldaro, Italy. (Photos contributed by Chris Potter)
Posted 01.22.07

Men's Ice Hockey Takes Europe by Storm

During the winter holiday break, the mens ice hockey team toured Germany, Austria and Italy, competing against four local club teams, and winning all the games while beating opponents by a combined score of 30-1.

Im afraid the competition there wasnt quite up to level we expected, said fourth-year head coach Chris Potter. But it still gave us a chance to skate, practice a few new things and improve our game overall.

The planning for the trip began almost two years ago. Wesleyan teams are permitted foreign travel once every four years. Following the 2004-05 season, Coach Potter and his upperclassmen began discussing options. We talked about the Czech Republic and Scandinavia, but in the end this trip won out, Coach Potter explained.

Using numerous fund-raising techniques to help cover the $1,900 cost per individual, the team accumulated enough money to bring a contingent of 36 people, including all 32 players, the three coaches and the head athletic trainer. They were joined by 30 family members, bringing the total for the trip to 66.

The three-country trip began in began in Munich, Germany, a city that left an impression on at least one player.

I thought our three days in Munich were the best, said forward J.J. Evans 09. It seemed so European and I thought the bratwurst was spectacular. Even though I got a kiss from an Italian girl on New Years Eve when we were in Bolzano, Im still going with Munich.

For team captain Will Bennett 07 Innsbruck, Austria was a favorite. He also said the location of the teams final contest against the Caldaro (Italy) Under-26 squad, an 8-0 Wesleyan win, was amazing.

This rink was dropped right into the countryside, Bennett said. It made you wonder how they managed to build it where they did.

Soon after returning, the Cardinals managed to get their skates back on for their regular-scheduled home games on January 5 and 6. Wesleyan won both to extend its current unbeaten streak to five games and hold a 5-3-2 overall record. It is the first time the team has held a winning record after 10 games since 1988-89.

Im seeing the team starting to gel, said Coach Potter. I think the trip was valuable and I made some interesting rooming assignments to help the players get more comfortable with each other. Im hoping the whole thing will pay off as the season progresses.
 
By Brian Katten, sports information director