They’ve graduated a large group of key seniors and seen a changeover behind the bench, with Thomas Bernstein stepping back and Ricky Hernandez stepping in as head coach.
With a new group dynamic and plenty of new faces, the coaching staff is pleased with the way the team has come together and played with some intensity.
“One thing you always worry about is the energy,” he said. “How is this going to look, how is this going to feel when you come to practice with half of a new team? One of the things the coaches really noticed early on was the energy is definitely there. A lot of high energy, lot of guys that want to be here, that want to contribute early and often, which is what we’re looking for.”
“It’s one of those teams that we’re looking for people, yeah you want guys who have really good skill, but more importantly, we’re looking for people that want to be there and that want to contribute to the program and the culture.”
Hernandez said that the group of new players consists of freshmen and transfers from other programs around the country.
At goaltender, the team will have to deal with the loss of Ryan Kellenberger, the team’s longtime netminder. In his place, Ary Furman will take over the starting role. He had the chance to learn under Kellenberger and Hernandez is excited about Furman’s abilities this season.
“We’ve built a very competitive program,” he said. “I don’t want to overblow the expectations, we did have a lot of turnover last year, but looking at the guys, there’s a lot of grit, a lot of passion and the talent is there.”
“I think we’ve got a good season opener on Friday for us. It’ll be a good test, and then we roll right into conference play. I think we’ve got a good strong group of guys that can really make a showing and make a good run in the SEC Tournament like we did last year.”
Vanderbilt opens the season on Friday against Butler at 8:45 PM at Ford Ice Center. View the entire 2017/18 schedule here.