By Patrick OÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢Connell, Contributing Writer
(Editor’s Note: This story is being published as part of the author’s class requirements for journalism.)
OSWEGO, NY – The goal of every team is to improve and do better than it did last year; a tough task for the 2007-08 SUNY Oswego MenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Ice Hockey team.
The defending Division III National Champions have a lot to live up to, but they look forward to the challenges ahead.
The team has not started out the way it had envisioned its title defense, with a 0-2-1 record out of the gate.
They have turned it around as of late though, winning three in a row.
This includes a 4-3 victory at SUNY rival Brockport last game.
|The Lakers controlled the puck and their own destiny last season as they went on to win it all.|
When asked if the team feels that they now have a target on their backs as defending champions, Junior Defenseman Kyle McCutcheon said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œDefinitely. Every team wants to upset the best. We have already seen this year that everyone plays their hardest game against us.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The team has really seemed to hit its stride now six games into the season.
While fans are getting excited, the team is simply getting more relaxed.
Sophomore Defenseman Tyler Lyon said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI feel that we have begun to be more relaxed as a team, and found a groove. We have started doing what works for us as a team and been more focused on doing the little things we need to win.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Lyon also felt it was a matter of time before the team really became one, saying, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI feel that every team needs time to build a bond. This started in training camp and preseason workouts, but it is really coming together now that we have played a few games.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Though they started out slowly, the Lakers have really picked up the pace, especially with their scoring.
They have outscored opponents 14-4 in their three-game win streak, with a shutout of SUNY Geneseo sandwiched in between.
The team that won the title was a team that not only gave SUNY Oswego its first ever athletic national title, but also set a record for lowest goals against average in the universityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s history.
Toughness is the word that Lyon would use to describe last yearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s team.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOur team toughness was hard to beat, and teams knew they were in for a battle whenever we were out there,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Lyon.
The current team however will be described in a different way.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThis team has to be about togetherness, working together. It will have to be about scoring, defense, and goalie play if we are going to repeat,” McCutcheon said. “We are a very talented team. But we also work hard for everything we get, nothing gets handed to us and we take pride in that. That is the tradition and identity of the hockey program here.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Head Coach Ed Gosek is not going to let the team think about last year either, making sure they know that it is a brand new year.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHe has made it clear to us that this season is going to be difficult, he makes sure we understand the importance of being well prepared for games just like last year,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Lyon said of coach Gosek. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHe also reminds us that we have to focus more on being the same we have always been. Remind us to not try and do too much.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
McCutcheon spoke of how coach Gosek has helped settle the team down after the slow start and keep them on track, knowing there is a lot of season left.
The positive reinforcement is one of the main reasons they have had their confidence grow, and get their record above .500.
|There were plenty of game-winning goals last season. The Lakers have begun to light it up once again.|
Confidence is very high throughout the team, as they do not want last yearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s team to be the school’s only champion.
Lyon feels this team has great potential.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI think we can go as far as we want to,” he said. “We just have to play as well as we can. See which bounces go our way, and which ones donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The team has a mantra for the new season that it repeats throughout the locker room to use as motivation: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is hard to win it once and even harder to repeat.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
McCutcheon refuses to lose any confidence in his teamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s abilities.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œUltimately I have two years left here. I want three rings on my hand when I leave,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he proclaimed.