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Aurora University hockey team prepares for first game

Updated: December 10, 2012 6:18AM

If you’re in need of a hockey fix, look no further than the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva.

That’s where Aurora University plays its first ever hockey game when the Spartans’ club team takes on Concordia-Wisconsin starting at 8 p.m. Friday.

“We’re excited,” AU head coach Ryan Buchanan said. “It’s been kind of a winding road. You think back to where we started in mid-July (when the program was approved), trying to put a team and schedule together, and it seems like a long time but really it isn’t.”

Buchanan and assistant coach Shaun Falzone have put together a roster of 21 players. The roster includes nine players off the AU men’s lacrosse team. Two women — sophomore forward Alyssia Evans and freshman goalie Ashley Monzel — are also on the team.

“Since it is a club team we opened it up to everybody that wanted to come out,” Buchanan said. “They’ve (Evans and Monzel) both done really well.”

Freshman Rafer Cooley will open in the net for the Spartans with Monzel providing insurance.

The nine lacrosse players will key AU’s offense and defense.

Lacrosse players playing at the forward positions are juniors Zack Weyer, Spencer Fuqua, Jack Barry, Justin Bose and Jack Meachum and sophomores Max Obriecht and Ryan Merritt.

On defense, the Spartans will be helped by lacrosse veterans Max Heytens, a sophomore, and Dillon Ruikka, a junior.

Forward Ryan Adams is the only senior on the team, which also includes freshman Dylan Beebe (forward/defense), junior defenseman Zack Olson, freshman defenseman Stason Ludwig, junior forward Dan Becker, freshman defender Kyle Salman, junior forward Matt Moran, sophomore defender Colin Kehoe and sophomore forward Nate Marcy.

The Spartans have been through dozens of practices but the coaching staff really isn’t sure what they’ll have until games start.

“To be honest, I just want to be competitive,” Buchanan said. “I want us to play hard, play the game the right way and learn.”

Considering it is a young team with only one senior and nine juniors and it has never played together as a team until this fall, there will be a lengthy growth period where winning games is secondary.

“As a coach, I want to win,” Buchanan said. “But, really, I just want them to learn hockey. I’m not going to put a win-loss on this year. We have different skill levels. We have guys that have played club hockey and we have guys that are beginners.”

AU has put together a 12-game schedule. The Spartans will travel to South Bend, Ind., to play one of Notre Dame’s club teams in its new ice arena Dec. 1-2 and will end their first season Jan. 18-19 at Concordia-Wisconsin.

The Spartans also play a home game against Lewis University starting at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Fox Valley Ice Arena.

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