As the both the days and nights start to dip below freezing, and the first snowflakes of the season start to stick, it means that winter is fast approaching. And with winter comes the start of hockey season.
Since both the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams lost significant talent with the previous graduating class, the success of both team’s was a question at the forefront of everyone’s minds as the start of the 2018-19 season. On top of it all, the Underhill Ice Arena is out of commission with a broken freezer for what looks like the rest of the calendar year.
Luckily, under the purview of the new Assistant A.D. for Facilities and Club Sports, Scott Lehmann, the Bobcats were able to secure practice times at two local rinks. Yet, because of this the teams each have shorter practice slots, as well as vastly different practice times than previous years.
The men’s squad has now adopted morning practice times; such a change of pace will likely affect practice efficiency and team morale. However, the team has instead chosen to face these challenges head on.
“We chose as a program to take the adversity we currently face as a challenge we can collectively solve,” team captain Edward Moreland ‘19 said. “In truth, there is no solution to fixing the arena, that is a sunk cost, but there is a solution to the way we deal with the current administration and our mental attitude…We hope to bring positive energy and work hard to prove to Bates we deserve greater visibility in terms of our accomplishments and our goals.”
Some of these goals include skill-fine tuning, namely working towards every player fulfilling their job on their own line. Yet the team is also focusing on some goals off the ice, such as generating a strong team dynamic, bringing a positive attitude to every practice and game, and exhibiting accountability and respect.
Beyond pure logistical challenges, the men’s ice hockey team still face some questions after the departure of the Class of ‘18; among the six graduating seniors were many of their leading scorers. However, the incoming Class of ‘22 is full of unprecedented talent.
“New talent for this year makes our team unusually young,” Moreland said. “The talent demonstrated by the freshman will provide the team with the energy we need to be successful this year. They will undoubtedly be a main facet of the success we are searching for.”
“The adjustment to playing college hockey has been a lot of hard work,” Adam Slocum ‘22 said. “But I am excited for our upcoming games this Thursday and Friday to really showcase all the effort every member of the team has been bringing to practice.”
The women’s team has encountered some of the same challenges in terms of skill. A core group of the team, both on and off the ice, departed with the Class of ‘18. Particularly the departure of last year’s goaltender—Hannah Behringer ‘18—a brick wall on the defensive end, had this year’s squad slightly worried.
However, Madison Fox ‘19 has stepped in to fill her shoes and has done so brilliantly. In a tough 3-2 overtime loss against Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Saturday, Fox was integral in keeping the score margin low. Like the men’s team, the incoming first-year cohort also seems to be the key to success this season. Four of the 11 starters were in first-years, with Cecilia Gichner ‘22 gaining the assist on the game-tying goal during the game.
An additional challenge the women’s team has faced this year is that the rest of their competitive league has been training for several weeks now. The added delay with securing practice space left only two opportunities for the new squad to practice together before their first game. Looking forward, the team hopes that this new talent, coupled with a solid practice schedule, can aid in building a strong team dynamic and help the starting lines get into a more consistent rhythm.