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Vikings Have All-For-One Mentality

Team unity is a snap when they wins easily pile up. But the true test of character and comradery is how teammates stick together and see the big picture in the face of daily challenges.

The Nichols School Boys’ Prep hockey team has displayed that type of character this season as they hit the ice everyday with a play for the guy next to me mentality.

“It’s a really unique group in the fact that they all are asking each other to be accountable to each other,” Vikings head coach Jamie Printz said.

“Guys work very hard for each other and understand I expect you to do it, I’m gonna do it for you.”

Scoring a 4-3 win over Ridley College at home on Dec.13 evened the Vikings record out to 3-3-4 on the season. But as coach Printz said he and his team are looking at more than just the black and white of wins and losses. They are looking at the big picture that includes the level of competition they face and how there isn’t one pushover team on their schedule.

“I think we’ve played some really good hockey. I think we’ve come up on the short end of a few games when we’ve played really well, but to start the year we’ve also had a super challenging schedule,” Printz said.

“Those games can go either way. We can probably say three of those games we probably should have come out on top, maybe four. Some were ties. Some weren’t. Those could have gone either way.”

Printz said a big part of keeping guys on task and focused is the basic message of talking about the daily process of getting better and not getting too wrapped up in what the scoreboard reads when the final buzzer goes.

“I think our guys have also come to grips with the fact that every game is hard,” Printz said. “Every game is a challenge. They’re no easy game on our schedule. There’s no easy team that we play. We’ve just got to stick with our process and it’s all gonna come together.”

Printz said a big part of why the team has remained on the same page has been through the guidance of senior captains Matthew Gasuik (forward) and Thomas Elia (defense).

“They do a good job of keeping guys focused,” Printz said. “They say the right things, but also they lead by example and show up. They show up every practice.”

Knowing that the onus of leadership is on their shoulders Gasuik and Elia said that they are both just trying to do their best to set the right example and do whatever they can as the team navigates its way through competition in the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association.

“Our league is a little tough this year. Everyone is pretty equal,” Matthew Gasuik said.

“It’ll be tough, but we’re just working towards the end goal and everybody is just chipping in right now.”

But while Elia and Gasuik are doing their part as captains they both were quick to say that the biggest thing that drives the team is the team-wide buy in of working your hardest for the guy next to you because he is doing the same thing for you.

“That’s definitely it, especially in tight games when we’re playing teams like that and we’re behind,” Thomas Elia said. “It just makes everybody pull together. Really bear down and go as hard as they can for the last couple minutes to try and get the win. It’s just great to see us all come together.”

And it has been a solid team effort. Junior Joshua Graziano and sophomore Robert Nuchereno have been splitting the time between the pipes, with both, according to Printz, playing well enough to be the No.1.

Junior forward Bryan Bylsma, who had two goals in the Dec.13 win over Ridley, has also proven to be a vital part of the team. Printz describes Bylsma as a smart and ever thinking player. Bylsma has been skating on a line with Gasuik and junior Cole Donhauser.

The Vikings second line features Steven Senese, Jack Kopek and Lucas Herrmann. Elia is on the top defensive pairing with Jack Millar.

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