Men’s hockey seems to have hit a rough patch in its overall impressive season. Out of the past five games, the Panthers have come up with two ties, three loses and zero wins.
Despite the feeling of familiarity these outcomes may hold for returning players, an unfortunate streak of this magnitude is something not anticipated this season for Middlebury. Throughout most of this year, the Panthers held their own with a decently balanced record — a win here, a loss there.
First-year additions to this 2018-2019 squad seemed to have made a key difference in team dynamic and synergy, both on and off the rink, as they are responsible for approximately 32 percent of the team’s total goals, 21 percent of assists, and just under half of total minutes in goal.
Injuries unfortunately slowed the first-years’ fire about halfway through the season, however — losses hugely apparent in recent matchups.
“The biggest challenge in the upcoming weeks is overcoming injuries to key players. We have lost some of [our] top defensemen to injury and expect others to step up to the plate,” said senior captain Kamil Tkaczuk. “We need to adopt a next-man-up attitude and continue working towards the same goal.”
While it may feel like the Panthers are crumbling toward the end, Middlebury’s work this season has improved colossally from the last. In the worst-case scenario the team concludes the regular with eight wins — fully doubling its record from the previous year.
It is clear the men’s hockey program is on the up and up, showing definite promise for both the postseason and years to come.
Proud junior Owen Powers emphasized this. “We have already eclipsed what we were able to do last season. The team now has a winning culture where everyone knows they have to hold themselves and their teammates accountable to the standards we identified in the fall. I expect us to finish the year strong and compete for a championship,” he said.