The NDP D1 Saints hold a record of 10-3 (as of December 2nd) after three big wins against the Pinnacle Pioneers, the Horizon Huskies, and the Basha-Perry Bears.
The Saints’ overall performance is stronger than previous years. Head Coach Joe Dusbabek feels that this D1 team is grittier. They work harder, battle for the puck with more tenacity, and overall, the team is more aggressive. Dusbabek feels Pinnacle is still the number one challenge; however, when the five most competitive D1 teams have full rosters, it is a balanced fight throughout.
In these high intensity competitions, there are some aspects of the game that needs to be improved upon, regardless of how successful the team is. Coach Dusbabek feels that the team needs to work on its defensive game, including posture, backchecking, and positioning. Senior forward Neiman Ham believes that the structure of play needs to be improved as well.
The 2019-2020 Saints are stronger behind the scenes of their incredible performances on the ice. Senior forward Adam Trupp said that the boys are “growing as a team and growing closer together every game.” Ham believes that “the best skill set is the chemistry and bonds we have built to become a brotherhood. Our relationships off the ice reciprocated on the ice with our ability to communicate and move the puck.”
The D1 and D3 Saints headed back to South Bend for a Thanksgiving tournament at the University of Notre Dame. The last time they went to South Bend, in 2017, the D1 team lost in the championship. This year, Dusbabek wanted the team to be hungrier around the net to pounce on rebounds and to continue to battle throughout the games, just like every season, playoff, and championship game. The D1 team finished the 2019 tournament undefeated (4-0), and their final win in the championship was 5-2 against the Moeller High School team out of Cincinnati, Ohio.
This season, the Saints are arguably a much more balanced but also grittier team. Twelve games into the season, the Saints are making their presence known on and off the ice.