Dropping like flies

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The Cougars men’s hockey team loses their offensive juggernauts

What the Puck?!
Autumn McDowell
Sports Editor

I thought I would be nice and write the University of Regina men’s hockey team a pump-up column – and in the time it took to sit down and write it, they lost four straight games.

Although captain Russ Nielson gave me permission via Twitter to carve the team, I am going to try my best to refrain from pointing out how the Cougars shit the bed the last two weekends. Instead, I am going to point out the amount of players the team has lost in that same timeframe.

Going into the Christmas break it seemed as though the Cougars could be a force to be reckoned with in the New Year. Their top three scorers, Matt Strueby, Lucas Isley, and Terrance DeLaronde, were all poised to enter 2012 healthy and ready to handle the offensive production for the last half of the season. My how things can change in a month.

The Cougars have since lost all three of those players – that’s right, for one reason or another all of their top three scorers are out of the lineup.

The first to go was DeLaronde. After suffering an injury in late November DeLaronde remained one of the team’s leading scorers despite playing 10 games less than some of his teammates. Fans thought – or rather, hoped – that the Christmas break would allow DeLaronde to rest his nagging injuries. They kind of got that, but not really. Rumour has it that DeLaronde missed too many practices, but whatever the reason, Cougars head coach Blaine Sautner suspended him. The rumour mill has not announced a date for his return to the ice, if at all, this season.

The next to drop in on the party of three – possibly the most surprising – was Lucas Isley. Isley had emerged this year as one of the team’s go-to goal scorers. Midway through the season, Isley had tied his goal production from last year and bettered his total point production. Isley was getting ample minutes on the ice and things seemed to be going well for the former Bonnyville Pontiac. But to everyone’s amazement, Isley quit the team.

On Jan. 5, just one day before the Cougars were set to take on the Manitoba Bisons in their 2012 opener, Isley told Sautner he would not be suiting up with the boys. Isley said the reason he quit the team was mostly to do with school, as he felt that he was wasting his time in a program that he didn’t want to be in. However, the Twitter world may have gotten a slightly different answer on why he quit.

The final member of the trio to go down was Strueby, who was bitten by the injury bug during the team’s road trip to Vancouver Jan. 13-14. Strueby’s assist on Brett Leffler’s goal with one minute remaining in regulation last Friday will quite possibly be the last points Strueby registers this year. Strueby tore his MCL in last Saturday night’s contest and received word that he would be out for roughly eight weeks, meaning his sophomore season is wrapped up.

These three key offensive losses make room for players like Brayden Nargang or newly acquired forward Sanfred King to step in immediately. However, the process of replacing the three offensive stars will be quite a challenge for Regina.

The Cougars will showcase their new offensive look against the Calgary Dinos (10-11-1) this weekend in hostile territory.

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