A Golden turnaround: Nazareth Men’s Hockey putting together improbable season

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – Two years ago, COVID shortened the Nazareth Men’s Hockey team to 11 games. The Golden Flyers lost all 11 of them. Head coach George Roll says he did some soul-searching.

“I just became more committed to doing the right thing and working harder in the recruiting areas. It’s been a quick turnaround to go from 0-11 to where we are this year,” said Roll.

This season, the Golden Flyers have played 26 games. They’ve won 18 of them, setting a new program record. The difference really isn’t rocket science either. When it gets down to it, this edition of Nazareth Men’s Hockey is better for one simple reason.

“I think it’s more the talent level, honestly. That’s been the difference. I think we’ve always been a well coached team. Guys have committed to the way we play, our style. This year we’ve just got a little bit more talent to work with and I think that shows on the ice,” said Roll.

“It kind of just shows, we’ve got a good coach, we’ve got talented players. Some writers and whatever wrote us off. We always knew we were good,” said senior Henry McKinney.

There’s still more for the Golden Flyers to prove. On Saturday, they play Utica in the UCHC Championship. The Pioneers might be the one seed in the conference tournament. But Nazareth believes they can pull off a shocker.

“No one’s writing us to win this game. Coach said last time – the only guys that believe we’re gonna win this are the guys in the locker room,” said McKinney.

“I don’t think we’re worried about anything else but the game on Saturday. As a coach, when you’re winning it’s easy to keep them focused. And I think this group, especially this second half of the year, we’ve really been on a good run here and it’s been easy to show up to the rink every day and keep their focus because we’re winning,” said Roll.

The Golden Flyers are hoping their golden season can reach even taller heights.