Davis, CA—As the start of the school year dawns upon the UC Davis Aggies ice hockey team, along with it comes a new season. The boys and girls in blue will return to the ice this fall with faces new and old. This 2022-23 season preview has everything you need to know before puck drop on opening night on Saturday, October 8 at Vacaville Ice Sports.
This season, leadership is changing hands as F Chris Dunleavy (#24) hands over his record-shattering, two-year presidency to incoming sophomore F Cameron Stone (#16). Stone, one of the youngest presidents in the team’s history, boasted a 1.38 point-per-game season as a rookie just months prior to his inauguration. When asked how he felt about his new position of leadership this upcoming season, President Stone acknowledged the gravity of his role, commenting, “This is a serious [role] I’m assuming.”
This offseason, the Aggies lost leading point scorers, as well as respective captain and assistant captain, F Robert Polon (#18) and F Travis Wood (#87) to graduation. The question remains: Who will fill these leadership positions? While no decisions have been made, young impact players look to step up and fill the voids left by these freshly minted Aggie alumni - both on and off the ice. Junior assistant captain F Alex Valdes (#12) will surely continue to be a mature, respected presence in the locker room, while remaining a workhorse on the ice. The word on the street is that incoming sophomore Wyatt Moore (#60) is anticipated to move to offense this season, hopefully bringing more firepower to the young Aggie team. Senior D Anthony Goldhawk (#00) will hold down defensive duties, backed by fellow-senior D Michael Applegate (#11), junior D Max Koenig (#97), and sophomore D Heiarii Gurion (#36).
Rising 2L G Timur “The Kat” Kastnelson (#31) will remain the team’s unwavering brick wall between the pipes, coming off of a stellar 442+ save season. Entering his second-to-last year of ACHA eligibility, the Latvian netminder has his sights set on one thing: bringing the hardware back to cowtown. “[My] main goal, of course, is to win,” says the Aggie veteran on the upcoming season. “I’m here to win as many games as possible.”
Father Time’s grip slips on Polon and Wood, however, as they will be joining head coach Niklas Braun behind the bench as the team’s new assistant coaches. Wood, an established coach at Pro Ambitions Hockey Inc., has several years of experience training players of all skill levels. These welcome additions to Braun’s staff do not go unnoticed — Vice President F Wyatt Moore (#60) shares, “I’m super pumped to learn from not only great coaches but great people as well.”
The annual influx of freshmen and transfer students always provides a glimmer of hope in the eyes of the veterans. Coach Niklas Braun remarks, “I’m looking forward to seeing what our newest recruits have to add this season. I’m also excited for our returning players to grow their skill set and show up as leaders on the ice.”Only time will tell how this refreshed Aggies roster holds up against the ranks of its competitors in the West Coast Hockey Conference. We hope you join us for what’s sure to be another thrilling season for UC Davis Ice Hockey!
For new players who would like to be a part of this ambitious team, there is an information session taking place on Thursday, September 22 at 8 p.m. in ARC Meeting Room 1.