Rochester Hills, MI- In his first season of college hockey, Oakland forward Chris Hubbard had a lot of promise. He was poised to start developing into one of the teams best penalty killers, he was poised to add secondary scoring, and he was poised to be a pest for opposing teams to play against.
He scored his first goal at Oakland, in his second game as a Grizzly a 6-1 win over Oswego State on opening weekend last season. That all changed, when in his 13th game of college hockey, Hubbard suffered a season ending injury.
"It was definitely something I had to take day by day." Hubbard stated about getting injured. "(It) was one of the hardest things I had to push myself through, but the recovery time was a lot shorter then what I thought it would be and I would say my knee is a lot healthier then what it was."
Before the injury, Hubbard quickly learned that in this league you have to be ready to play every game and in every shift. "I learned to be successful in this league, is that you can't take any shifts off. You have to grind the full 60 minutes." Hubbard stated.
One of things Hubbard did while injured, was to study the game from above the ice and see how plays develop, while watching and learning from a different view point. He also assisted with stats and the OU Hockey video department.
"My video and stat taking skills have reached a whole new level." Hubbard joked.
"In honesty, I was able to watch the game in another perspective, and you are able to see how plays break down and you get to see what we need to work on most as a team."
After the season ended, it was time for Hubbard to prepare for his return to the ice and resume workouts. "After I was given the all clear, I went back to my normal workout routine at Oakland County Crossfit." Hubbard stated.
"On the weekend (forward) Keegan Nolan and I usually do cardio at the OU Track."
Hubbard knows where he must improve most to be successful this season; "I need to be tougher on the puck and capitalize on my chances."
As for the team, Hubbard believes one of biggest changes need to be playing from start to finish. "We need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey and not take any periods off."
With Nick Field in as head coach, Hubbard is glad he is recovered and ready to go to work in less than a month with the new staff. "Ever since I got to meet the coaching staff I have been extremely excited to get this season going." Hubbard said.
When asked if he noticed any improvements in the program so far under coach Field and his staff Hubbard said; "yes for sure."
"We have already begin to focus more on the team needs and what we want to get out of this season and we have been working together as a team to figure out what is going to make us most successful this season."
With the opener against Duquesne the last weekend in September, Hubbard stresses again the need to play 60. "It's important that we play a full 60 minutes of hockey."
"I'm sure they remember us from last year and they are not going to take us lightly." Hubbard added.
As for the teams pregame preparation for home games, Hubbard feels it's an area of strength for the team. "Honestly, the preparation we had last year was fine with me." Hubbard said. "I always felt warmed up and ready to go when it was time to hit the ice."