Penalty kills will be key to Bucks' late run

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland/Windham/Mansfield - posted Fri., Feb. 8, 2013
Tolland/E.O. Smith/Windham goalie Matt Schoen smothers the puck in the Bucks' loss to Newington/Berlin on Feb. 6. Photos by Steve Smith.
Tolland/E.O. Smith/Windham goalie Matt Schoen smothers the puck in the Bucks' loss to Newington/Berlin on Feb. 6. Photos by Steve Smith.

After a 7-3 loss to Newington-Berlin on Feb. 6, coach John Hodgson said his Tolland/E.O. Smith/Windham Bucks (8-7) are having an “up and down” season and have beaten the teams they should beat, but haven’t beaten tougher teams, even though they are capable.

“I expect our team to compete with anyone on our schedule, because we have,” he said, citing the example that the Bucks lost to Newington-Berlin 2-1 the first time they played, and were only down 4-3 at the start of the third period in the rematch.

Special teams have been a weakness at times (they gave up four power play goals to the Indians, while notching none of their own) and part of that is due to a somewhat-bunched schedule, with fewer practices. Finding a way to ratchet up the power plays, Hodgson said, will be the biggest key for their remaining games and tournament play.

“All these teams we’re playing are at the top level of Division III and they all have a good power play,” he said. “If we can’t kill penalties and set up our own power play, we’re going to be in trouble.”

Hodgson said the hurdles are mental ones, as his team is talented, and it’s more a matter of practicing the timing during practice.

“Our team is hard-working, and they want to win,” he said. “They’re frustrated, but we’re a pretty balanced team.” He added that while the team doesn’t have superstars, it gets the job done with teamwork.

As long as the Bucks can play a solid 45 minutes of hockey, the coach said they have the ability to win their five remaining games and make a strong push in the state tournament.

“We need to get better and knock one of these guys off,” he said. “We’ve just got to be better when it’s not five-on-five.”

The Bucks host Hall-Southington on Feb. 13, before traveling to face Bolton/Coventry/Rockville/Lymam on Feb. 16. For a complete schedule, visit www.casciac.org.


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