Six seniors on the ice hockey team are more than just teammates; they are the brotherhood…
James Nosek | Staff Writer
After tension and a confrontation at the ice hockey team’s practice before the Miami Tournament in December, coach John Benham challenged his team to be like Mason High School’s football team, according to senior goalie Dan Roy. He wanted his hockey team to act and perform like the football team in terms of its hard work, dedication and the theory of a family. Benham said that a real team doesn’t operate without these qualities; its team members don’t fight with each other, according to Roy. Then Benham mentioned the word “brotherhood” to the team, which has stuck ever since.
Roy said that the team wants to be just like the football team, meaning it tries to incorporate pigskin philosophies into the world of hockey.
“We want to bring that element of [hard work and family] into hockey,” Roy said.
The Mason football team was not the only influence in the making of this hockey brotherhood. Another brotherhood served has a muse as well, according to left wing senior Jon Gruseck: the Miami University ice hockey team.
“The brotherhood was also developed [with inspiration from] the Miami University [hockey team], which is also a brotherhood; so we…adapted that [to our team],” Gruseck said.
This idea of brotherhood helped the Comets accomplish a 17-3-2 regular season record, giving them a spot in the state tournament as they clinched second place in the city, according to captain senior DJ Smith.
Gruseck said the team has become very close since the transition to the brotherhood; it helped the team bond on and off the ice. The team chemistry has improved tremendously and is stronger than ever since the implementation of the brotherhood philosophy, according to Smith. Senior left wing Mat Fischer said that they have seen this strong team chemistry on the ice as well.
“We know [as a team] where we are all going to be [on the ice],” Fischer said.
Senior defenseman Ryan McVey said the chemistry makes it easy to atone for each others’ mishaps.
“If we are down in a game, it is so easy to pick each other up,” McVey said.
When put up against other teams in the league, Gruseck said that other schools’ team chemistry does not even compare to Mason’s.
“[I think we are] a lot closer [to one another] than other teams [are to their teammates] because…our team is strictly Mason players,” Gruseck said. “A lot of other teams are combination of multiple schools. [For example,] Princeton and Wyoming are all one team.”
Within the brotherhood of the team lies another brotherhood, the seniors which Roy refers to as the “big brothers” on the team. The “big brothers” consist of Smith, Gruseck, Roy, McVey, Fischer and forward Chris Rupp. They have been friends since the first grade and have been on the same hockey team since the seventh grade, according to Gruseck.
Gruseck said that his “brothers” have gotten very close with each other over the years and that this relationship with his teammates has improved their team cohesiveness exponentially. He said that they get to trust each other on the ice and know what each other is thinking.
“[When] you have played with [the same people] for so long, you know what they [can and cannot] do,” Gruseck said. “[It has created] great chemistry; we know each others’ strengths and weaknesses.”
According to Roy, the members of the senior brotherhood are all going their separate ways after high school. But Roy said that even though the “big brothers” will be all over the country, the idea of brotherhood, which they helped start, needs to continue in the program.
“What we are really trying to do is just hand down the brotherhood [to the next teams to play for Mason],” Roy said. “Where it goes for us isn’t as big [of] a deal as keeping [a brotherhood] with Mason Hockey.”
Smith said that this brotherhood, regardless of distance, will keep in touch.
“We will keep in touch [during the] summer and [during] breaks,” Smith said. “We’ll definitely play some puck together.”