By: Giulia Barile
When it comes to hockey, the term shorthanded is used when a player takes a penalty and the team is forced to play a person down. For the Lancer men’s hockey team, this term has taken on an entirely new meaning.
Expectations were high after a good finish last season. The Lancers made it all the way to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) bronze medal game last year when they were defeated by the McGill Redmen. However, with a total of 13 rookies in the lineup this season, they knew it would be a transition.
One thing they did not know was a number of players that would be missing at the very beginning of the season. Team captain, Blake Blondeel, the absence of seven players from the lineup.
“We are missing five guys due to injury at the moment, and had two players suspended, however, those have been served,” Blondeel said.
With such a young team and the season just getting started, the team is trying to push through this adversity to try and keep themselves in competition with the rest of the league.
Blondeel summarized the team’s results thus far by saying, “The season has gone well so far, all things considering. We would obviously like to be higher in the rankings, but with such a young group and lots of injuries we’ve asked a lot from guys in the lineup and they’ve stepped up.”
So far the Lancers are 2-3-1 and are tied for sixth place in the OUA West division.
First-year defenseman, Kody Gagnon, says the team is staying positive during this time and knows that working hard will pay off.
“I think the team’s morale at this time is good,” Gagnon said. “Having some of the older guys out gives the rookies a chance to bond and battle adversity together and it has brought us all closer as a team.”
Despite missing key members of the team, the players know they can step up into different roles and still get positive results in the absence of their teammates.
“Myself and the guys on the team just have to take on bigger or even different roles to help this team be successful. Overall we are doing a solid job considering a short lineup and we just really need to keep getting better every day,” said Gagnon.
Head coach of the team, Kevin Hamlin, is entering his tenth season with the Lancers and is proud of the way his young team has responded to the situation. He hopes that his team can learn from these experiences and have it benefit them later in the season.
“It’s offered significant challenges that we could not foresee, but ultimately it’s going to make our team better,” Hamlin explained.
At a time when it is easy to make excuses and give up without key players, Hamlin never stopped believing in the team and knows that their best games are ahead of them.
“I couldn’t be happier with the progress of our young players and the veterans are doing whatever they possibly can to lead and contribute,” Hamlin said. “We’re headed in the right direction and there is a tremendous amount of optimism in our dressing room.”
As players start to return to the lineup one by one, the Lancers’ season continues on and they will look to make their way up the standings.
The head coach knows facing adversity can only benefit his team in the long run.
“We’re going to be better because of it,” he said.
As the team looks forward, they are hoping that their shorthanded days will soon come to an end and will soon enough have their chance at a power-play.
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