Alabama Hockey brought in two new goalies, including junior Jesse Gordichuk, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. Gordichuk already looks promising after making a total of 78 saves in this past weekend’s season-opening series at Liberty University. Despite losing the second game, Gordichuk said he thinks the team has what it takes to make a championship run.
“We only practiced three times before we played Liberty, and we were the underdog,” he said. “I think that when we get the hang of things, and get the feel for how every member of the team plays, we will definitely be a force to watch out for this year.”
Gordichuk is originally from Penticton, British Columbia, where he started playing hockey at just nine years old. He played at UW-Stevens Point (NCAA Division-III) hockey team for two years and won a national championship with that program in 2015-16.
“Honestly, I don’t think there are any words to describe the feeling,” Gordichuk said. “It was very surreal just to be able to say I accomplished something like that.”
Although he describes his time at his last school as a good experience and beneficial to his hockey career, Gordichuk wanted to go somewhere he would have more playing time and the opportunity to better himself as a player overall. He sent a video of himself playing to former Alabama head coach, John Bierchen, and was asked if he’d be willing to transfer to Alabama as soon as possible.
Gordichuk arrived in Tuscaloosa on Aug. 9 and met his new teammates just a couple days later. The team had a late start this season with a search for a new head coach and delayed tryouts.
Even with the late start, Gordichuk has been able to bond with his new teammates and already feels right at home in Alabama and with the team.
“In order to be a good team, you need to be a close team,” Gordichuk said.
The team has taken its travel time as an opportunity to bond with each other. On the way back from Lynchburg, Va. last weekend, the team’s bus broke down. The players ended up playing soccer in a Shell gas station parking lot while they waited for it to be fixed.
“It was a bummer because we were all tired and wanted to be home,” Gordichuk said. “But to be honest, we had a good time and it brought us all closer.”
Gordichuk played in both games of the series against Liberty University last weekend. The team split the series while he made a career-high 39 saves in each contest.
“After the liberty games, I think we need the most work in the defense zone,” Gordichuk said. “There were many turnovers in the game that could have been eliminated, but once we practice more and get our systems going, then we will correct those mistakes. Right now we are a good team, but we have the potential to be a great team.”
In addition to bonding with his teammates, Gordichuk is also content with new head coach, Kyle Richards. He says Richards is a great match for the team because he knows how good Alabama’s hockey program can be, and he really pushes Gordichuk to work hard and be his best. He also says that Richards is easy to talk to and always willing to help him, even with life outside of hockey.
With his new teammates, coach and home, Gordichuk says he can’t think of anything that he doesn’t like about the state of Alabama or the University. In Canada, hockey is like a religion, and although it’s different being in a place where hockey isn’t as big, he’s excited to help Alabama make a name for itself in the hockey community.