The men’s hockey team at St. Thomas University had a rough time on the rink this season. The team finished with a record of 2-22-4, which was the worst in the Atlantic University Sports conference. This was a step below the previous season, when the Tommies went 6-20-2.
“This probably the highest profile team at our school and people expect with the time and energy and resources that go in to it that it is going to be successful,” said Tommies head coach Patrick Powers. “But when I got into this program a couple years ago, the depth of the roster wasn’t where it needed to be. It needed to go through an overhaul like it did last year to get to where we needed to be in the future.”
The Tommies brought in 16 rookies to play for the men’s hockey team this season, which brings with it a learning curve. For many of the players it was their first time living away from home, and being enrolled in post-secondary education. It was also likely the first time players had to worry about their own transportation and meals.
“When you’re talking about a competitive team that’s working towards a championship and you have 16 guys who are trying to get acclimatized to real life changing situation, it’s a lot for them to grasp,” said Powers. “I can’t wait for next year when they’re not 16 rookies anymore.”
Powers felt his team made progress, despite getting four less wins then the 2013-2014 season. The Tommies improved on their shot differential, and Powers said that the amount of goals they scored was the best it’s been in over five years.
“We had a lot of real good offensive things, and that’s what you expect out of a young team,” said Powers.
Though a young team often excels at offense, they also often struggle on the defensive end, and that showed up throughout the season. The Tommies let in 144 goals, which was more than any other team in the conference.
“A lot of these guys have been playing offense their entire lives, but playing defense comes down to a little bit more team concept, and that was something we worked to learn out of a 28 game schedule.”
The inexperience also made it tougher for the Tommies to close out close games. The Tommies lost close games twice with Saint Mary’s University, who finished third in the AUS. One game went in the overtime, and the other was lost in a shootout.
Those 16 players will be going into next year having only won two games in a Tommies uniform. Patrick Powers himself as only won eight regular season games in his two seasons as head coach. But he doesn’t feel that’s going to hurt them going forward.
“We have enough skill on our team that’s arrogant in a good way, that they’re not going to be disrupted by a two win season. They’re going to say, that wasn’t us,” said Powers. “Through their experience this year, I think it will pay a lot of dividends next year. It wasn’t so much a failing year as it was a learning year.”