It was a heartbreaking end to what was a very successful season for the Laurier men’s hockey team.
The Hawks lost a do-or-die game three at home in overtime against the Windsor Lancers.
However, this shouldn’t distract the team or the fans from the success that the Hawks achieved this season.
The Hawks improved their record from last year and looked simply unstoppable at times throughout the season.
A big factor behind the Hawks’ success this year was the play of third-year right winger and NHL drafted forward, Andrew Fritsch. Fritsch was recently awarded the Most Sportsmanlike award for the West division, after taking only one penalty last season.
“After you take a couple of days off after the season, I think you reflect on the year. The season was a pretty big success. Overall, it’s something to build on. Next year, we’re going to have to do better and I think it’ll be disappointing if we don’t move past the first round,” he said.
Things won’t be easier for the Hawks next year, as four of their players will be graduating this spring.
This will obviously create some holes in the locker room and on the ice in terms of leadership.
Fritsch mentioned that there are players graduating every year and this situation is something that the Hawks should be able to overcome.
“Every year, there’s guys graduating, we’re fortunate that it’s only four for us this year. They were a pretty big part of our season this year, but we’re confident in our guys that are still here,” he said.
“We still have a lot of good players and I’m sure there will be a lot of guys coming in who could help as well. Overall, I don’t think we’re too worried, but guys are going to have to step up.”
Fritsch was arguably the Hawks best player this year. He led the team in assists, points and game winning goals.
Fritsch, however, did not do anything different in terms of preparation, he was just confident in his abilities.
“I don’t think I did anything different this year. I’ve put up points throughout my career. I think I just got back to being confident. I also had great line-mates that helped me succeed, especially on the power play. Overall, I was confident in my abilities and that’s what led to me having a pretty good year.”
Even though the season’s conclusion left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, the fact that the Hawks made the playoffs and clinched home ice will further increase the pressure on the team next year.
Anything less than a playoff appearance will be a disappointment, especially for the fans.
Fritsch added that this applies to the team’s mentality as well.
“Everybody wants to do better than they did in the year before. That goes for the team and personal stuff too.
If we don’t go past the first round next year, I think it will be a disappointment. But as I always say, you don’t want to look too far ahead. You want to go game by game, practice by practice.”
With characters like Fritsch on the team, the Hawks should be able to thrive and succeed under pressure.
The expectation of making the playoffs again next year is very fair and with the way the team is improving, the sky is truly the limit for the Golden Hawks come next season.
“If we pick up where we left off this year, we’ll be fine,” Fritsch concluded.