I sat down with Tyler Sikura ’15, the captain of the men’s hockey team. After a disappointing first half last season, the Big Green surged to move up in the playoff standings. The team upset No. 7 seed Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before falling in two games to No. 1 seed Union College. Last week, the team was picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll.
What does the preseason ranking mean for the team?
TS: I don’t think we look into it that much. In this league, it’s really tough to predict before the season starts who’s going to have a breakout year, who’s going to battle injuries and what not. So we don’t really read into it all that much, and I think we’re going to do better than sixth, personally. That’s our hope.
What does your training look like?
TS: This year, the Ivy League did a couple of different rules where we can work with the coaches a little bit more, so we’ve been practicing with them a little bit — we get like an hour a week or something like that. Then we have captain’s practices on the days that aren’t with the coaches and lifts a couple of times a week. I think we’re all in really good shape. Our testing is out of the way, and we’re just gearing up now for the season.We normally just do a couple drills and then scrimmage. I got some experience last year running captain’s practices, so this year it has been easier because we have a better idea of what drills work and what don’t. The other captains and I will meet briefly before practice and decide what we want to do that day. With the rule changes we’re allotted a couple hours a week to work with the coaches, so we can work on some team concepts and position-specific skills that we can’t do in captain’s practice. Since we already start later than all the other teams in college hockey hopefully this evens the playing field a little bit when we get into the early part of our schedule.
Have you guys talked about what your goals are going to be this season?
TS: Briefly. I think everyone wants to make it to the NCAA tournament. That’s kind of been our goal since I’ve been here, and I think this is a group that’s capable of doing it so I’m pretty excited.We’re returning many key guys this upcoming year, and the group we have has been through a lot together, so we believe we have the talent level and experience to be a really good team this year.
You’re a captain this year. What’s that like?
TS: I definitely got a taste of it last year. It’ll be nice to have Eric Robinson ’14 back, who was an assistant captain but missed the year unfortunately with an injury. We’ve added Eric Neiley ’15 to the leadership group as well, who has done a great job so far. It’s just nice to be a senior and be really comfortable around everyone and try to embrace that leadership role.
You were injured last year, so how has it been for you going through the recovery process?
TS: Last spring, I took some time off and got time to heal everything up and train over the summer. I’m feeling 100 percent now and ready to go.
Outside of the rink, are there any team activities that you do?
TS: We do pretty much everything together, whether it’s studying or eating meals or whatnot, so you get to know the guys really well. We’re a pretty funny group, so we can really make anything entertaining.
Have you volunteered as a team?
TS: Just recently, we did a volunteer thing with USA Hockey in the mornings with up-and-coming kids. We do the CHaD toy drive, which is something we look forward to over at the hospital. We collect teddy bears and other kinds of toys from our fans at a game and then bring them over to the kids. That’s always a highlight of our year. That’s over winter break.
What is it like being here over the winter break?
TS: It kind of reminds me of Juniors. It gets a little bit grim sometimes, but you’re just playing hockey and getting to know your guys a lot. All you’ve got is each other so you’ve got to make it entertaining but it’s fun. You don’t have to worry about school or anything so you can just focus on hockey. We get about 10 days when we get to go home, and then are back on the 26th for practice.
Do you have any professional players that you look up to?
TS: I mean there’s been a couple over the years, but more recently, somebody like Matt Lindblad ’14, who has moved on and played professional hockey. I was just talking to him yesterday. He’s doing really well for himself. That’s the guy I’ll kind of look to for advice. He’s somebody that’s been through the same stuff as you have and can kind of give you a hand.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.