The Ice Vols hockey team traveled to Pelham, Ala., on Friday for their first road game of the semester. Tennessee suffered an 8-2 loss to the Frozen Tide but came back to beat Georgia Tech, 4-2, in Knoxville on Saturday night.
After over a month without practices, the Vols had a slight deficit to overcome on the ice but saw improvement in the two-game span.
"I think we shook a lot of the rust off this weekend and will be able to go full force in the upcoming games," sophomore forward Adam Heath said.
The Vols' schedule is by no means easy, and matchups against skilled opponents means players rely on both competitive mentality and physical strength.
"Hockey is a mental sport, but I think you have to combine that with the physicality of it, too," Heath said. "You have to connect your mind to your role on the ice. If you're not in the zone on the ice then you don't need to be out there at all because you're just going to be hurting your team."
Recently, the team added new members they believe can carry out these roles. One such is freshman right wing Ryan Folz, who saw a successful debut this weekend.
"The first two games he's played, he's made a significant difference," captain Kyle Knell said of Folz. "Just with the energy he brings and what he can contribute to the team, it's helped out a lot. He keeps on improving. It's nice to see."
With the addition of new teammates, the Ice Vols are also transitioning into the semester with a fresh outlook and new objectives.
"Things we focus on are simplicity – keeping plays simple; staying out of the box – not making unnecessary penalties; and hard work," Knell said.
The team looks forward to an upcoming tournament this weekend at North Carolina State. It will be a shift from normal tournament style and a chance to improve their record.
"I think it's exciting," Knell said. "We played in a tournament earlier this year, but typically when we go on trips we play the same team twice. Now we're playing three separate teams and then one of those teams again."
"Preparing for this is going to be huge."