After a year of having no games, the Boise State men’s hockey club made its return in September for the 2021-22 season. This was the first season in two years that the Broncos had the opportunity to play at home in Boise in front of a few thousand fans, according to junior construction management major and center Dustin Truex.
The Broncos started the season off slow with a 3-7 record. With lots of fresh faces on the ice, they took the first few months learning how to play together and getting to know each other.
The team came into the season knowing that this would be a rebuilding season, welcoming 14 new skaters. The team only had five returning players from the previous season, which was a learning experience for the newcomers.
According to Truex, the moment the team came together was on a road trip where they all did a team activity.
“After this one team-building activity where we all jumped into a frozen lake, we all started to chill more after that and started winning a lot more games,” Truex said.
Coach Lloyd Ayers wanted the younger players to learn right away that their team is legit college hockey and not just an ordinary club sport. The hockey team has a budget of $100,000-$150,000 to keep the program going and plays against some of the top schools in the west.
Junior right wing and kinesiology major Matthew Johnson believes that this team is better than they look on paper.
“Most of the teams that are ranked above us, we beat multiple times,” Johnson said. “So it kinda hurts to see us at 20th. Next year, we will make sure that doesn’t happen.”
In a down year, the Broncos were still ranked 20th in the west with wins and close games against some of the top teams like Dakota College-Bottineau and the University of Oregon.
The Broncos showed their true skill when taking Dakota College-Bottineau (No. 2) to a shootout on Jan. 17. They also won a rival game against the University of Oregon, who is moving up to Division I next year.
Ayers has high hopes for this young and determined team to keep the momentum from winning three of the last four season games.
“My goal is obviously to get back to top four in the west and get a regional and national bid,” Ayers said. “They see that they can play at the highest level. They build that confidence, so I see that momentum building to next season.”
The Broncos finished their season with 13-12 overall. They were unable to compete in the Mountain West Championship because of a small infraction, but they will be back next year and are determined to continue improving.
The team hopes that having a year under their belts will help them get into a groove. They will have a prospect in May to recruit more players to join their team and work towards getting back to the top.