The Golden Hawks’ Youth Movement Experiencing Growing Pains to Start Season

– Kyle Morrison, staff

The first month of the OUA hockey season has almost reached an end and I’m sure the Golden Hawks mens hockey team are more than happy to see it go. Even before the season started, the Laurier guys went 1-4 in their non-conference game tune-ups. You can never read too much into those results, but the poor play seems to have carried over to when it matters, as the losses have continued to mount and the mens side remains winless after four contests.

It is hard to believe that this was a team that went 17-7-4 in 2009-2010 and 15-7-6 only a year ago – one win away from a birth in the OUA semi-finals. However, I guess this is expected from a team with 18 players in their first or second year of eligibility stepping on the ice each night. The immaturity certainly shows. The Golden Hawks have been playing really undisciplined hockey, taking 21 penalties through the first 4 games of the season. I don’t care how good your defense is, you cannot win when you’re sitting in the penalty box more than 5 times a game.

The Golden Hawks defense isn’t great, though. So being a man down is even more harmful to the chances of putting up a W. Not only is the penalty kill weak – killing off the team’s penalties at a rate of 61.9% – they’re surrendering 40 shots a game. And this is a defense corps headed by fifth year Ryan Bernardi and fourth year Garrett Sinfield. Unlike the rest of the team, there’s only one rookie on the back end. They shouldn’t be like Swiss cheese out there.

It isn’t all bad, as there is hope for all you Laurier hockey fans. When there are a large number of rookies on the roster, you begin to form the core of team that will really gel together in a year or two and bring back some respect to the university. And even now, there are some first years that stand out as having the potential to be good players. Two rookies are amongst the team leaders in points: right winger, James Marsden has 4 points in 4 games and centre, Mitch Lebar has three points in four games. With most of the first years being up front as forwards, many of them are up there in points for the Golden Hawks. Especially once they gel, there should be many goals to come in the future.

There’s good, bad and, quite frankly, some ugly on this Golden Hawks hockey team to start the season. But with winnable games against Windsor (2-4), hopefully they can end the month on a high note. It’s a long way away, but if the team wants any hope at the playoffs, there’s no better time to get on track than now. Otherwise it is going to be a long winter, which I foresee to be filled with a lot more numbers under that loss column rather than the win column. But don’t give up on them, Laurier. Universities have roster turnovers and the growing pains that come along with it will end. The core for the future and with some time to mature, Laurier can get back on the road to winning an OUA championship. It just could be a tumultuous ride.

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