Freshmen key for NIU Hockey


NIU freshman Jon Pounds (22) is among the team leaders in points.

By Korey Peterson

In college sports, freshmen athletes are usually relegated to roles similar to those of rookies in professional sports.

The veteran players take advantage of the newcomers in several ways. Most tasks that these newbies face are harmless, such as carrying the veterans’ equipment, but the newcomers are relegated to these roles so that they can earn the respect of their teammates.

As several NIU hockey freshmen have shown, there are more ways to earn that respect than carrying pads or taping sticks.

Four of the Huskies’ top five players in points are freshman, including forwards Joe Boris, Mark Greenberg and Brian and Jon Pounds. Twin brothers Jon and Brian are the team leaders in goals and assists, respectively. They are also the top two in points on the team.

This past weekend against Kansas, Brian recorded four goals on the weekend including a hat trick in the first contest and the game-winning goal in overtime of the second game.

“I didn’t expect to be one of the top point getters as a freshman,” he said. “But I still wanted to do everything necessary to do it.”

Another freshman making an impact is Boris, who had goals in each of those games and is on a five-game points streak after being switched to a line alongside Greenberg. He is also the team leader in short-handed goals, recording two so far this season.

“Having us freshmen come in and start making things happen brings confidence to the veteran players too,” Boris said. “The freshmen contributing makes the team better overall.”

Before NIU, Boris played for the Northwest Chargers, a Central States Developmental Hockey League team that came away third place in a midget major national tournament. But expectations were high for all of the freshmen, not just Boris.

“We thought the freshmen could step up and be big role players for us, and they absolutely have,” said NIU head coach Greg Chromy. “It’s been a very big surprise, but it’s great to have them step in and make an impact from the start.”

All of these freshmen have been rewarded with ice time, having all recorded significant points on the power play. The only non-freshmen in the top five in team scoring is senior Chris Bednarek, who plays alongside the Pounds brothers.

The only other freshmen on the team, Kevin Schwartz and Brian Staffeldt, have sat out a few games but are beginning to see more ice time.

These freshmen may not have to carry pads or tape sticks, but the team is relying on them for a lot more early on this season.