Freshman Evan Newell brings youth, experience to DII hockey team
After three straight third-place finishes in the ACHA championships, Grand Valley State's Division II hockey team wants nothing more than to be holding that trophy at the end of this season.
Losing four graduating seniors last year, GVSU will be counting on some of its newcomers to step up and contribute to the squad in any way possible.
One of those promising newcomers is freshman forward Evan Newel, who already looks to be a key piece in solving this championship puzzle.
Newel learned how to play hockey at the young age of four, and he fell in love with it almost instantly.
“It was the favorite sport,” Newel said. “I played basketball, lacrosse and soccer a lot, but I always resorted back to hockey in the end.”
Left wing has always been Newel's preferred position, and he used his speed and vision on the ice to make him a force on the offensive end. He previously played forward for the Metro Jets out of Fraser, Michigan, of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), one of three major junior hockey leagues in the U.S. Newel put up an impressive eight goals and nine assists in 33 regular season games on a team that was minutes away from a junior college championship.
Newel reminisced about his all-time favorite memories of playing hockey from his days with the Jets.
“We went undefeated in the regular season,” Newel said. “Ultimately, we ended up making it all the way to the national championship, but we lost.”
Newel had both a goal and an assist in the Silver Cup Final.
After this past season with the Metro Jets, Newel was craving to play college hockey. Luckily for him, he found a home at GVSU.
“I knew a lot of people that went here and learned about how good the hockey program was,” Newel said. “I thought, why not try Grand Valley? And so far, I’ve been liking it.”
Newel is enjoying his classes this year and is considering a career in electrical engineering once he hangs up his skates.
His play on the ice has spoken for itself so far in his first year with the club. He has already scored two goals in the two games he’s played. GVSU head coach Mike Forbes mentioned him earlier in the year when asked to go in depth about the good newcomers on the squad, calling him one of “several dynamic freshmen forwards on the team.”
Although his play has impressed the coaching staff and his teammates, Newel's bar for personal success has not come close to his standards yet.
“I think I’ve been doing okay,” Newel said of his play this year. “There’s definitely room for improvement. It’s just the beginning of the season, so hopefully I continue to get better as the season goes along.”
GVSU (2-0-1) has only played three games this season, but Newel is already loving the chemistry forming between him and his teammates.
“We’ve gelled pretty well here between the old guys and the new guys,” Newel said. “I think as we go on throughout the season, we should be pretty good.”
Newell has been impressed with what he has seen from the team so far. Not only does he see success in the regular season, but Newell believes the Lakers can make a run at a national championship.
Newel is excited to be playing with his teammates on the ice and is pumped to be meeting so many new people.
“The big goal for me is just meeting new kids and forming friendships that will last a lifetime,” Newel said. “(My goals for the future include) making a run at the national championship in at least one of my years. That would be my main goal for the hockey program here.”
Newel is one of seven freshmen looking to put GVSU over the championship hump.
GVSU will face off against Aquinas College twice this upcoming weekend. The Lakers will play at home Friday, Oct. 6, at 6:30 p.m. and will travel to South Side Ice for a 7:30 p.m. rematch Saturday, Oct. 7.