Badgers hockey off to a slow 1-4 start

If you want to win a hockey game, you have to score more goals than the other team. You can make it seem more complicated than that with fancy statistics, but at the end of the day if you put more pucks in the back of your opponents net than they put in yours, you will win that hockey game.

The Badgers know this, of course, but they’re struggling. It’s too early in the season to panic but by this time last year the Badgers had a winning record of 4-1. This year it’s 1-4.

The Badgers lost 3-2 to the York Lions on Friday before reading week; head coach Marty Williamson made it clear that the team needs to do one thing to turn their season around, score more.

“It’s tough to win games when you sit at two [goals]. You need to get to those three, four, five goals and then you’ve got good opportunities, when you play at two it’s just an awfully fine game, you can’t make any mistakes and you need your goalie to stand on his head every night and that’s just too tough,” he said.

Mario Cavaliere was in net for the Badgers, he stopped 29 of the Lions 31 shots. It’s not goaltending or even defensive errors holding the Badgers back, it’s the same problem that they’ve had since playing their exhibition games — they’re not connecting with the net as much as they should be.

Adam Berg and Connor Walters scored the Badgers’ two goals against the Lions.

Williamson looked ahead to their next opponent, two games against UQTR in two days the following weekend.

“It’s early in the season right now but you want these challenges,” said Williamson.

UQTR swept the weekend, winning the first game in overtime, 4-3, and taking the second in regulation 7-4.

They came away from the weekend with one point out of an available four, not necessarily a success, but not an abject failure either.

It’s early, the team has time to correct. It’s entirely possible for them to work their way out of this scoring slump, but frequent losses to start a season can weigh heavy on a team.

The OUA has always been a close race, there have been dominant teams in the past, but over the last 10 years, it’s been anyone’s game, Brock included.

“It’s a fine line from winning and losing and we’re just on the wrong side of that line,” said Williamson.

Last year, the Badgers set a school record for wins and swept York in the first round of the playoffs, eventually falling short to Western in the next round.

There’s no sense of panic among the Badgers, frustration, but not panic. Their play feels off, as if at any moment they could flip a switch and start to dominate again.

Penalties have been an issue. The Badgers are a team who take a lot of penalties, but they also draw a fair number.       Their penalty kill is fine, it’s not a problem, but it’s nothing to get excited about either. Their power play is where they often sacrifice opportunities. Out of 25 opportunities to score on the power play, they’ve scored just six times.

Their ability to draw penalties is a huge  advantage but if they’re not using it, then there’s no point playing as physically as they do.

Hockey is a weird sport, there’s more chance involved, more luck, more flukes, so while it’s possible that this is the start of a terrible season for the Badgers, it’s more likely that they’ve run into a bit of bad luck early on.

“Sometimes it ebbs and flows, the bounces don’t go quite your way as far as generating offense,” said Williamson.

He knows that the team has more potential than their record shows.

“I think we can become more consistent, stay out of the box become more disciplined to play more of a 60 minute game and that’s when we’re at our best,” he said.

The Badgers will host the 1-3-2 Laurier Golden Hawks this Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at the Seymour-Hannah Centre, before heading out to Waterloo to take on the 2-2-1 Warriors on Saturday.

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