MARQUETTE - Taking over a team that went 7-20 a season ago, new Marquette Senior High School hockey coach Doug Garrow is under no illusions as to how successful the Redmen will be in 2013-14.
"It will be a learning experience for all of us," the former Northern Michigan University forward said. "We're trying to break some of them of bad habits and make things more simplistic.
"Our goal is to get better every day and peak in February."
Marquette Senior High School’s Alex Zerbel tries to evade a Marquette Electricians defender en route to the net on Feb. 22 at Lakeview Arena in Marquette. (Journal file photo by Zach Jay)
Marquette’s McKinley Larson follows through on a shot against Midland on Jan. 25 at Lakeview Arena. (Journal file photo by Zach Jay)
Garrow, 46, said team practices to date heading into Friday's season opener at Hancock have been "high energy."
"The kids are trying to rid the bad taste in their mouths from last year," he said. "They want to prove last season was a fluke."
The 1985 MSHS and 1991 NMU graduate said the Redmen will be a "hard-working team" with a "grind it out" style.
"We're trying to stress a good work ethic, structure within a system and discipline," Garrow said. "We want to outwork other teams."
The Redmen will have two goalies with no varsity experience in John Beckman (5-8, 135-pound senior) and Travis Cameron (5-9, 168 sophomore). Beckman played MSHS junior varsity hockey last season, Garrow said, while Cameron is coming over from the Legion Bantam AA squad.
"We have the least experience here and it'll be an issue early," the MSHS coach said. "Right now, John will be our No. 1 goalie."
Of the six defensemen on the squad, returnees Chris Amundsen (5-10, 165 senior) and Brenden Shanahan (6-3, 180 junior) are expected to lead the way.
"How well they do, the rest of the 'D' will follow suit," Garrow said.
Marquette's team strength will likely be up front, where returnees and converted former defenseman Jake Phillips (5-9, 160 sophomore), McKinley Larson (6-1, 195 senior), Cam Verigin (5-11, 175 senior) and Alex Zerbel (6-1, 192 senior) will be counted upon to spark the offense.
"Larson has the potential to be a good player if he uses his size, speed and strength," Garrow said. "Verigin is a hard-working player and Zerbel has skill to go along with a big body.
"If they struggle, we'll struggle."
The coach added if the Redmen forwards are successful working down low, the team will fare well.
"If they play with their size and strength, we could be successful," Garrow said. "If they play a more peripheral game, we'll have a season like last year."
The Redmen played a pair of scrimmages to help prepare for the season, losing to a Wisconsin team 2-0 and dropping a 5-1 decision to host Houghton last Saturday.
"We have some work to do," Garrow said.
He will be assisted this season by Larry Carey and former NMU icer Dusty Collins.