The training room of the men’s hockey team has been like a MASH unit so far this year. The list of players who have missed at least one game due to injury is staggering: senior tri-captains Larry Pierce and Andrew McNiven; classmate Ian Bur; junior Denis Ladouceur; sophomores Matt McRae, Travis Bell and Shane Palahicky; and lastly freshman Greg Hornby, who was lost for the year during the Holiday Tournament over winter break. Sophomore Doug Murray — who limped off the ice last weekend against Yale — is the list’s newest addition.
“Our guys have done a good job of not getting distracted and thank God we have had the depth we had,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said.
Despite seemingly being snakebit, this squad has risen above the injuries and now stands in second place in the ECAC.
“Injuries are something that teams that let them distract them and let them become an excuse, it really affects them,” Schafer said. “We wouldn’t be where we are right now if we used it as something to lean on.”
“I think we just try to stay focused,” junior Krzysztof Wieckowski added about how the players deal with different linemates.
This constant changing of players in the lineup has disrupted the offensive flow of the Red, which has the lowest scoring mark in the league at a mere 2.06 goals per game.
“I think that is one of the things that has hurt our offense because every time we look like we have some continuity of getting a line going, we lose someone and it changes he structure of who our forward lines are going to be,” Schafer said.
But fortunately, the squad has also maintained the best goals against average in the league (2.06), in large part due to the defensive play of all the skaters.
“Our guys believe that we have depth so they have faith in their teammates so that if someone gets hurt someone else is quite capable of stepping in and doing the job,” Schafer said.
Wieckowski felt that everyone on the team is able to work together while on the ice.
“You might be playing with different people in different games, or even in different shifts in the game if someone gets hurt during the game,” he said. “We play with who we play.”
However, the worst may be behind the Red, as almost all of its players return for this weekend according to trainer Ed Kelly.
“We are actually getting guys healthy. We are only going to have three guys out this weekend,” he said.
Many players on the team have also been willing to play with injuries or with pain.
“Guys get back as soon as they can to help the team. If it means playing hurt then they play hurt,” Wieckowski said.
Of those still injured, Schafer thinks that Murray will be out anywhere from two to four weeks, while Palahicky is “still a couple of weeks from full contact.”
Kelly believes that teams have alternating periods of health and injuries.
“Three years ago we had six guys with shoulder injuries, mostly defensemen,” he said. “It runs in cycles. My first two years here we had none and we won two championships, which you have to be lucky and healthy for.”
Schafer hopes that this downturn for his squad is just about over.
“Hopefully we get healthy and everybody else gets their injuries,” he said. “I’m not wishing injuries but it is time for the injury bug to go somewhere else.”
Archived article by J.V. Anderton