The University of New Mexico Lobos hockey team has a 17-1 winning streak so far this season and is making a push to win a national championship. Five players on the 23-member team are employed by the Laboratory: Jared Carnes, Samuel Fisher, Logan Lemirande, Nikolas Meneakis and Jarrod Ronquillo.
This month, the Lobos traveled to Missouri to play the top teams in the nation, where they won two out three games. “If the Lobos keep up this momentum (which we will), then in March, we’ll head back to Missouri to compete in the national tournament!” said Ronquillo, the team’s captain who just scored his 200th career point.
The last time the Lobos made it to the national playoffs was in 2017-2018.
The Lobos are part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division 3, a club league with 37 other teams. This season, they're scheduled to play just four more teams before the Mid-American Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.
Meet the frozen 5
Here’s a snapshot of our hockey players from the team captain.
Q: How is it possible to be a “Labbie” and play college hockey?
Jared, Sam and Jarrod are LANL students.
- Jared, player No. 71, is a mechanical engineering major with a pre-med track.
- Sam, a goalie and No. 39, is studying mechanical engineering.
- Jarrod, team captain and player No. 17, is a graduate student in chemical engineering.
Niko, player No. 55, and Logan, player No. 93, are both full-time employees pursuing master’s degrees in business administration. Logan is focusing on cybersecurity and business analytics.
Q.: How long have you been playing together?
Jared and Sam have been playing hockey together most of their lives. They are true hometown Los Alamos natives. They even won a New Mexico state championship together in 2018 as Los Alamos High School Hilltoppers. They just joined the Lobos this season.
Niko is also a Los Alamos native and is playing his final year with the Lobos.
Logan (Wisconsin), who joined the Lobos this year, and Jarrod (Minnesota), who joined the Lobos in 2016, grew up in the Midwest where hockey is a way of life.
Q: Where do you practice?
We practice in Albuquerque at Outpost Ice Arena. The Lobos also have been known to host the Nuclear Shootout, a tournament, at the outdoor rink in Los Alamos.
The recruiting connection
Jay Carnes, the division leader of Engineering Technology Design (and the father of Jared Carnes), has been instrumental in recruiting student athletes to the Lab. One of them is UNM hockey captain Jarrod Ronquillo.
Carnes heads up the Weapons Engineering Directorate’s Pipeline Committee, which has been successful in recruiting top talent. Part of the committee’s secret is its ability to build relationships with potential recruits — engineers reach out to recruits personally.
Recruiting student athletes is just one of many examples of how the committee finds top talent, builds relationships and fortifies the Lab’s pipeline for years to come.
"We have a number of former college athletes who are now employees. We find that someone who has the drive to succeed academically in challenging majors like engineering, and simultaneously, the ability to juggle the time and energy commitment as college athletes — that says a lot about their self-motivation," Carnes said.
Recruiting athletes locally is also a bonus, since people who love New Mexico are likely to build long careers at the Lab. Carnes said, "Finding recruits who love the outdoors, winter sports, and the culture, climate and diversity of Northern New Mexico is a big part of each individual’s retention equation.”
That equation has worked out well for Carnes personally, who joined the Lab in 1983 and enjoys playing sports and coaching in Los Alamos.
Here are some favorite photos of the Los Alamos players by Zach Price of the Lobo Hockey Network.