Hockey Badgers carry on
The Brock Badgers men’s and women’s hockey teams are doing their best to turn a negative situation into a positive experience.
Both squads will continue with weekly practices and off-ice training despite the news last week that all Ontario University Athletic winter sports have been cancelled for the 2020/21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Men’s coach Marty Williamson said his players understood the situation but made it clear they wanted to continue to work towards next season.
“We’re extremely disappointed we can’t play but to a man they wanted to continue to practice and develop and look forward to 20/21,” Williamson said. “They want to see how good they can get so it’s a challenge to me.
“There’s nothing you can do. We’ll get competitive and make some games and some competitions and develop within that so it doesn’t get boring.”
Women’s coach Margot Page said her team will continue with their normal schedule, on and off the ice.
“(We follow a) very detailed, laid out, set plan that includes our off-ice, on-ice training and where we want to go,” she said. “It’s just going to revamp a little bit for both of those where we’re not looking at competition in January, we’re looking at the fall. It’s an extended, off-season training season.
“We have weekly virtual meetings. It’s very detailed and the expectations are the same. If you aren’t here, you are still expected to do the work.”
Both coaches acknowledge they will have to modify their practices with no games on the horizon to prepare for.
“Training is the game now and you have to somehow bring it and try and make it fun and make them want to come. You have to bring in some competition and have some fun with it at every practice,” Page said.
Williamson said he will be reaching out to each player this week to get a feel for what they want to work on.
“We will have a communication back and forth about what they think would be best for their development, what they need to work on,” he said. “I’ll try and guide them to what I think their weaknesses are and try and put all of that together.
“We’ve got time and I need to get my head around how we can best utilize my practices for the whole group and touching on each guy.”
Page said she has kept practice light this week.
“The first practice back after that announcement and we just went in and let loose and had some fun. We’ll go back to business next week,” she said.
The team will begin work with their off-ice strength coach next week on ice.
“We are going to try and translate that on to the ice to see how we can get quicker as a team,” she said.
Williamson said there is still an outside chance the men’s team could play some exhibition games in the new year depending on the pandemic.
“A couple of teams have already reached out to me,” he said. “I didn’t want to get their hopes up too much because it depends on the situation in late December. If the (COVID) numbers are the same, there is no way we’ll be playing in January. If things happen to turn around and we get some real positive news, there is an outside chance we can play with safety measures.
“It would be fun to play a Guelph or U of T and have a little competition. That’s kind of a goal for us but it’s out of our hands.”
Graduating players will have their eligibility extended for one season, but would have to make the decision to stay in school an extra year.
“There are a couple you worry about because it is potentially their last year and they have to make a really hard decision,” Page said.
Williamson said he is proud of his players and how they took the news.
“These guys are not 9-10 year-olds that don’t understand what’s going on. They understand the situation here in Canada where things are going and how the numbers have gone up,” he said. “We can kick tires and be upset, but the people that take the most advantage of these situations are the ones who are going to come out better on the other end.”
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