By: Matthew Sigrist, Staff Writer
The 2019-2020 D3 Saints is a promising group of hockey players. Lots of new faces fill the roster. This team will emerge this season and be a real contender in the league. So far thisZ season, the D3 team has lost only one game out of its first six. The Saints are winning and will continue to push for more success.
The new head coach, Taylor Nelson, and NDP alumni, Cameron Judge, class of 2017, lead the Saints this season. Many new freshmen have been added to the hockey powerhouse including new forwards #55 Tye Smuckler, #62 Drake Sullivan, #93 Tyler Posch, #89 Adam Fry, #42 Seth Christiansen, #72 Nico Djariri, and #19 Holden Hrabek. The freshman defensemen include #5 Connor White and #92 Evan Kobley.
Taylor Nelson participated in Arizona youth hockey throughout his childhood and has coached at the youth level for over 11 years. Nelson is bringing his years of experience into the lives of his D3 players, and he has many goals for his team. He said his goals consist of “growing as a team, competing every night, having a great regular season, making a deep run in the playoffs, and winning the D3 State Title.”
Nelson wants the team to work day in and day out and agrees with Joe Dusbabek, head coach of the NDP D1 hockey team, that “there is no substitute for hard work.” Coach Nelson believes that every player is essential and sees the team as one pack. He is very excited to be leading a new group of young men in what he believes to be the world’s best game.
Judge has a long history of playing hockey, including being a former NDP goaltender, and he earned himself recognition in the Arizona hockey world for his strong performance and charisma. He was a very likeable goalie among the hockey community. Judge’s reputation as being a well-rounded individual has helped make a name for himself. Having him on the bench will aid the team’s two goalies, junior Aiden Rettke and sophomore George Serbin.
A familiar face will be returning to the lineup this season in senior Will Liebes. He previously played on the D3 team along with his brother, Jack Liebes. He is the only senior this season. Rettke stated that Liebes “has to take a lot of responsibility with this role and he does a good job… interacting with the players in the locker room and during games he keeps everyone’s head up. Overall he is a super nice teammate and a great leader.” As a senior captain, Liebes is an essential mentor for the underclassmen to learn and grow from.
This year’s Saints have new faces and some who have been part of the program for years. With Nelson’s experience and Judge’s goaltending knowledge, the players have been given the resources to perform at their best level. The team is filled with talented young players and those who are more experienced and act as mentors. With a promising record of 5-1-0 going into their September 29th game against Desert Mountain, the Saints are making their name known to the league.