For most freshmen athletes, the start of their collegiate career comes with a steep learning curve. What separates the truly great athletes and the rest is how quickly they can pick everything up.
For Mercyhurst men’s hockey player Chris Bodo, the curve is much smaller than most.
Starting off the year with 12 freshmen on the roster, head coach Rick Gotkin needed a strong start from some of the newcomers to be successful.
“We were very excited about our freshman class coming in, and they have met the expectations we had,” Gotkin said. “In some cases, they have exceeded our expectations.”
Bodo has had success in the early portion of the Lakers schedule. This season, he is tied for second on the team in points with 12. His six goals are also good for second on the team.
“Chris is a natural goal scorer, everywhere he goes he scores,” Gotkin said. “That is what we expect him to do here and he has done that.”
But where his success is most evident is in conference play. Of Bodo’s 12 points, 11 have come in Atlantic Hockey Conference play, which leads the team.
“I feel more comfortable in the conference games and playing at home in front of the crowd helps get me excited,” Bodo said. “Going to Cornell and Wisconsin can be a little intimidating, but I’m feeling more comfortable as the season goes on.”
Bodo earned Rookie of the Week honors by the AHA following a loss to Robert Morris and a win over AHA leader Air Force. He was the second Mercyhurst player this season to earn a weekly honor by the AHA.
Bodo attributes his early success to a strong helping hand from his teammates.
“Our team has been clicking really well and we are off to a great start,” Bodo said.
Bodo isn’t the only freshman who has produced for Coach Gotkin this season. Fellow freshman Nardo Nagtzaam leads the Lakers in total points. Also, Daniel Bahntge is fourth in points and leads the team in assists. Bahntge was named Rookie of the Month for November by the AHA.
If the high level of play continues from the freshmen, and with strong leadership from captains Derek Elliot, Pat Goebel and Kevin Noble the Lakers are on the right track to take home an AHA title.
The Lakers currently sit in second place behind leader Air Force.
The team will travel to Alabama-Huntsville Dec. 15 and 16 for a two-game series against the Chargers in a non-conference match-up.