The record that counts

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BYU hockey seeks to raise the standard of player behavior by fostering a morally uplifting environment on and off the ice.

“The higher level (of hockey) you get the worse the atmosphere is, generally,” Head Coach Jeremy Weiss said. “There’s bad influences from … all kinds of stuff.”

Weiss envisions a hockey team  that encourages prospective student players to pursue a collegiate career in the sport.

“A lot of these guys have had really good testimony-building experiences here,” Weiss said. “In fact, one of our captains last year wasn’t a member when he came out. (He) got converted, baptized, served a mission and he’s married in the temple now. For him, BYU hockey was a life-changing experience.”

The coach’s efforts seem to be working. Teammates and coaching staff frequently mention the positive and uplifting atmosphere as a reason why they continue with the team.

“The environment in the locker room is just so much different than anywhere else,” forward Mitch Facer said. “There aren’t too many teams where you can bring a girl on the team and not have to change any of the attitudes or how you talk to each other.”

For assistant coach and former player Ryan Newton, playing for the BYU hockey team greatly impacted his life.

“Even though I wasn’t going to BYU, I still had the atmosphere,” he said. “The spiritual aspect of the team is what sets it apart. That’s what we want to build on.”

Newton took independent study classes before attending BYU. His teammates coached him to take classes that could transfer.

Defenseman Tanner Billingsley noted that he would call his teammates before his home teachers if he was ever in need.

“They’re there for me to help me become a better person and progress through my life,” Billingsley said.

Although BYU holds a 2-22 record this year, team unity and love of the sport drives the players to stay with the program.

“If this were any other hockey team I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it,” Billingsley said. “We have a very clear mission as a team. It’s not just to win games, but it’s to build individuals, to get everyone to go on missions, to build everyone as a team.”

Mitch Facer also said he would choose the BYU hockey team instead of not playing.

“I love hockey. I’ll be playing hockey until I can’t physically anymore,” Facer said. “I think if you have the love of the game, there’s no way you can’t play. Even going out there and losing every game is still better than sitting at home.”

Weiss commends his players for their character and is proud of the influence the team has on individual players.

“Wins and losses are great, and I think, in the Lord’s eyes, wins are important,” he said. “But, you know, missions and everything else are more important. And that’s what we’re all about.”

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