Men's hockey vs. Ottawa, Bell (7) and Stevens (22)

Evan Bell (7) celebrates his second goal of the game with Alex Stevens (22) during the men’s hockey game against the University of Ottawa at the Pegula Ice Arena on Oct. 6, 2019.

Last season Evan Bell was put into a difficult situation.

He was forced to miss the first half of the season following his transfer from Merrimack. He got his first game-action of the season in January, and of the course of the spring, he didn’t seem to be the player many expected.

But now he gets to take part in a full camp and hit the ice with his teammates at the start of the year.

That’s paying off already.

“Jumping in at the halfway point is tough and I think it was a lot to ask,” Guy Gadowsky said. “For him to be able to come along with everybody at the same time is going to mean a lot to him.”

The Michigan native began his year with a two goal performance in Sunday’s exhibition against Ottawa.

Gadowsky was impressed with a lot more than just his scoring.

“His ability to play quick because of his feet,” Gadowsky said. “Especially defensively, was excellent today.”

During his time away from the team last fall, he worked hard to get into shape, and according to him, it helped.

“I thought it was very difficult, especially not playing games,” Bell said. “At the same time I think it kind of prepared me for this season, knowing what to expect from camp. I think I used this summer to my benefit.”

Men's hockey vs. Ottawa, Bell (7)

Evan Bell (7) celebrates his goal against Ottawa goaltender Nick Hodgins (1) during the men’s hockey game against the University of Ottawa at the Pegula Ice Arena on Oct. 6, 2019.

He had to work extra hard during the fall semester to keep up with the rest of the team, and his commitment was noticeable.

“You have to give him a ton of credit,” Gadowsky said. “During the first half of last year he didn’t just come to practice. He would have double workouts, and when he did come to practice he was exhausted. He really used his time to get as strong and explosive as he could.”

Even though he wasn’t on the ice with his teammates, he was still with the team, and the support he received helped him along the way.

“It's a cliche but it’s my teammates,” Bell said. “Our upperclassmen really brought me in and made me so comfortable and it translates on the ice. If you’re comfortable around these guys, it's so much easier to get out there knowing they’re going to be behind you.”

It was a difficult adjustment at the start of his tenure, but Sunday looked like the best is yet to come.

“If tonight was any indication,” Gadowsky said. “I’m really excited to see the improvement from last year.”

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.