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Women’s hockey team rolling towards the playoffs

Our girls had a tough slide, but they’re back at the top of their game now./Andrew Hamilton
Our girls had a tough slide, but they’re back at the top of their game now./Andrew Hamilton

One more reason to grow a playoff beard

Over the weekend, the Cougar’s women’s hockey team won both of their games against the University of Calgary Dino’s to solidify their place in the playoff picture. With two straight wins, as well as a split series with the UBC Thunderbirds the pervious weekend, the team looks to maintain their momentum going into their final four games of the regular season. However, it hasn’t all been clear sailing for the team, especially since their schedule started back up after the winter break.

The team started out slow, with four losses to start January (one of them being in overtime), a lull that head coach Sarah Hodges attributes to the long layoff between their last game before the break on Nov. 29 against Lethbridge, and their first games of the New Year.

“We didn’t do any exhibition in-between the end of the first semester and the New Year, so I think that hurt us a bit, but I think over the stretch it’ll help. We should be more rested; it’s kind of a trade-off.”

This is not the first time that the team has faced this kind of adversity in recent years. Fourth-year goaltender Jennifer Schmidt is one of the team’s players who has experienced the ups and downs that have gone along with being a member of the team over the last few seasons.

“Last year, after Christmas, we had a nine-game losing streak and the season before we actually went on a nine game winning steak, but then we really bombed in playoffs because we never had that lull, so it’s important to have the lull but maybe not nine games of it.”

Coach Hodges agrees with that particular assessment of the team’s play.

“I think last season, especially, we were really quite terrible after the break and then we were successful in the playoffs so I think our players that are returning have that experience under their belt and that will help them and it seems to have helped them bounce back after those first four games.”

With the team having clinched a playoff spot in the CWUAA, the team’s attention is now firmly fixated on the postseason. Coach Hodges believes that there is one main thing that the team needs to focus on during what some would call the homestretch.

“I think playing with a playoff mentality, so competing hard, and being really resilient, and battling hard, is the most important thing.”

From a player’s perspective, Schmidt says that the team’s main goal is just to work hard.

“I think working hard is the main goal of this year’s team. We know we have the skill, we just have to make sure that every game we show up and work hard and then we know we’ll get the win.”

With just under three weeks left until the playoffs for the Cougars, the next couple of weekends will determine what position the team will be in when the games become do-or-die – a challenge that the team looks ready to meet.

About John Loeppky

I am an athlete with a writing problem, or a writer with a sports problem, you decide. When I'm not editing, playing wheelchair sports, or advocating for the disabled, you can find me de-stressing with friends.