Men’s hockey poised to make a deep run


Photo by Matt Smith
Photo by Matt Smith

The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s hockey team is coming into this year with lots of positivity.

Last season, the team posted a 9-17-2 record in the conference and missed the playoffs for the first time in two years.

They are looking to improve their record this year with their incoming talented rookie class and the mindset to do well.

“I don’t think there’s been that talented of a rookie class since I’ve been here, and I look at the team and everyone’s got a lot of energy,” fourth-year captain Tyler Stothers said. “This year feels a little bit different. The mindset is that we’re expected to win— we’re not just hoping.”

Head coach Greg Puhalski shared his captain’s outlook on the year.

“There is just a better vibe, a lot positivity with what we are doing,” he said. “Last year we had a lot of injuries too which made things a little difficult on our team.”

The team agreed that their end goal for this season is going to be winning the Ontario Univeristy Athletics championship. According to Puhalski, the team has a pretty good chance of making that goal happen this season.

“I think we have some real positive ingredients,” Puhalski said. “I don’t think there is going to be one team that runs away with the [OUA] championship. I think it is going to be the team that is playing the best hockey at the right time and we are right in the mix with that, so we’ll see.”

For Stothers, making a deep run into the playoffs would be a great end to his career at Laurier.

In the last three years, the team has either bowed out of the playoffs in the first round or never made it.

He explained that one of the biggest reasons that the team wasn’t able to make a deep run into the playoffs was due to the inconsistency in the production of their lines, while playing in a league that requires a full team effort to win.

“This year we got four lines of players who are fighting to be in the lineup and they are all good, genuine players,” Stothers said.

“They’re going to be battling for ice time and that’s what we need —that competitive environment.”

Another obstacle that both Stothers and Puhalski find will be a challenge for the recruits is finding their role among the team.

The Hawks finished their exhibition play with one win and one loss. On Sept. 19 they hosted the Waterloo Warriors to kick off their preseason.

In an intense matchup that both teams took turns taking the lead, it was Laurier that came out on top, scoring a goal in overtime to win the game in a thrilling fashion with a score of 5-4.

The Hawks were unable to repeat their performance in their second game when they played against York on Sept. 21. They lost that matchup by a score of 4-2.

The club will kick off their 2014-15 campaign on Saturday Oct. 4 against Lakehead 7:30 p.m. at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.

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