Badgers back on the map
Clint Windsor has been a big reason the Brock Badgers are in the hunt for a national championship. Photo Special to BPSN Sports.
The Brock Badgers men’s hockey team has a lot on its plate this week.
Not only have the Badgers qualified for the USports nationals in Fredricton, N.B., but they have a date with the McGill Redmen Saturday night at the Seymour-Hannah Sports Complex for the Queen’s Cup, a one-game, winner-take-all matchup awarded to the champion of the Ontario University Athletics conference.
Brock head coach Marty Williamson is reminding his players to focus on the task at hand and not get caught up thinking about the nationals.
“We’re just talking about Saturday,” the former Niagara IceDogs bench boss said. “We’re not talking about nationals. This whole week is how we prep for McGill. That’s all we’re worried about now. I know we have to do things like book flights but the focus is on Saturday.
“From what I’m being told, this place is going to be jammed. We haven’t won one of those trophies so we’d love to win it.”
Williamson still seems a little in awe how quickly things have come together for the Badgers, who have gone 6-1 in the post-season after a .500 regular season.
“If you would have told me we would have got through the first round I would have said that’s a good season,” he said candidly. “And then to knock off Guelph was unbelievable and then to beat York, it becomes a journey I would have never thought and now we’re playing for a Queen’s Cup.”
Having said that, Williamson realizes, win or lose, the Badgers will still advance.
“In the back of your head, you cross your fingers that you come out healthy because we’re moving on and we can’t afford to take any injuries but you can’t think that way. You still have to play hard.”
The Badgers will have their hands full with the Redmen, who are 28-6-2 overall this season. The Badgers are 20-10-5.
Williamson realizes the Badgers may be underdogs Saturday and in Fredericton, but that’s nothing the team hasn’t dealt with this season.
The Badgers entered the playoffs as the fifth seed in the OUA West Division standings before sweeping aside fourth-ranked Laurier and top-seeded Guelph and then defeating the York Lions in three games.
“We’ve been that way every game, even though it hasn’t looked good on paper for us,” Williamson said. “We’ve had some special performances.”
When Williamson took over last fall, one of the things he noticed right away was a lack of identity.
“I felt we were way too easy to play against,” he said. “All I kept impressing upon these guys was we need to be tougher to play against. We have to find ways to hang around. Be gritty, not be dumb, stop shooting ourselves in the foot with breakaways or penalties and find ways to win games.
“It seems that’s kind of worked for us. We’re not a pretty hockey team, but we find ways to get it done. Now the challenge is the games keep getting tougher and tougher.”
Regardless of the outcomes for the rest of the season, Williamson feels the playoff run has put Brock on the map.
“It is huge. From talking to the recruits I was talking to, they’re all texting me congratulations so they’re excited,” he said. “They’re seeing the crowds and hearing the buzz. For the recruiting, it’s a big piece of the puzzle.
“Our attitude it that this should be an every year type of thing. We want to compete for one of these. You can’t win every year but you can be in the mix and for the last couple years I don’t think we were in the mix.”
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