It has been about a month since we last reported on the Spartans men’s hockey team. The team was floundering at the bottom of the conference searching for a way to win as well as an identity with a 1-4-1 record. Since then, times have changed dramatically. The Spartans have been white hot lately only having lost twice since January 1st improving their record to 7-7-5 overall and 5-5-3 in conference play. Those two losses since the early season struggles both came at the hands of nationally ranked opponents, Plattsburgh and Amherst. Wins coming against Skidmore, Trinity, and Wesleyan really got the team rolling. The Spartans followed those strong efforts with equally as strong efforts against nationally ranked SUNY Geneseo, in which they tied.
The Spartans then traveled to Boston to take on the Beacons on Umass Boston and Beavers of Babson College, both games ended in wins for the Spartans for their first weekend sweep of the season.
Their most recent weekend was on the road at Tufts where the Spartans had 50 plus shots on goal but a stellar goaltending performance prevented them from getting out with a win, but instead a tie. Conn College was the most recent notch in the W column with a 5-0 drubbing of a less than worthy opponent who didn’t seem to want to be on the ice with the boys in Spartan green.
That identity that the team was looking for seems to have been found with both coaches agreeing that a hard working, committed team is what will work for this group of guys.
“We have seen commitment to the system, commitment to each other, and hard work doing the things necessary to get wins,” said Assistant Coach Jamie Herrington on the team’s recent success.
It was December 12th at Utica where the Spartans had their best effort in the early season and have built of that win to claw themselves back into contention for the conference.
“That game was a turning point for us. Everyone has bought into the team concept since then and it has translated into wins for us,” senior Captain Nick Wescott said.
That ‘team concept’ is working marvelously for the Spartans with their leaders and coaches stressing that point continuously.
“Our team now knows what they need to do to be successful. We know what works and have to continue doing it,” said Coach Alex Todd.
Knowledge is the biggest factor for success and knowing that your team is working just as hard as you helps, Coach Todd added. “Getting wins has really benefited our team.”
A major factor to the teams recent string of success has been the emergence of a grinding offense; shoot, shoot, shoot, work, work, work.
“We are getting to the dirty areas and banging the rebounds home,” said the Spartans goal leader Stuart Stefan.
The grit and determination of this team has really fixed many of the small mistakes and bad bounces that weren’t going the team’s way in the beginning of the season.
“Team moral grows when you win. Success helps build team attitude, and that is what is happening right now,” said Coach Herrington. “We hope it will continue.”
The Spartans return home to Spartan Arena Friday February 5th for a showdown with conference foe U of Southern Maine followed by a matinee on Saturday with U of New England.