Thursday, November 18, 2010

Alex's Column: Is Saint Mary's hockey back?

By Alex Conover

Sports Editor

When I was a kid, my dad used to take me to SMU hockey games as one of his many ways to get my brother and me out of the house. Once I got a little older and started going for more than just the hot pretzels and cheese, I really started to enjoy the environment. There was nothing better than a playoff hockey game at the rink with the cold air and loud fans.

Unfortunately, when I enrolled at SMU in the fall of 2007, much of that atmosphere was gone. When the team only won a single game last year, I began to really question if I was ever going to see a competitive hockey team during my time at Mary’s.

From what I’ve seen so far, this year’s team might be the one that I’ve been waiting for – or at least the one that lays the foundation for some good things to come.

I was at SMU’s first two conference games, and I saw some great things. One new aspect of this year’s squad is a mass influx of new recruits. Head Coach Bill Moore had over 50 newcomers try out this year, including several players that captained their junior teams in top North American leagues.

Over half of the varsity roster is new, and it’s very evident when you watch this year’s team. They have a spark on the ice, a certain energy; they also have shown the ability to earn a lead and keep it. That was a large issue with last year’s squad.

Speaking of last year’s squad, this year’s version already has a better record. With two conference wins to start off the 2010-2011 season, the Cardinals are actually on top of the MIAC standings. Although the year is still very young, this is an incredible feat considering last year’s struggles.

After pounding Concordia-Moorhead 5-2, the sound system was blasting “Sweet Caroline,” and the students were singing along. The players skated over to the crowd and showed their appreciation. It really made me excited – I haven’t seen a home win in over a year at our rink, and the atmosphere was just plain fun.

Pardon me for being a little premature, but I can’t wait to see this freshman class when they are seniors. I think that this group will be the core that helps SMU hockey get back to where they want to be – with coach Moore leading the reins.

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