Cougars stalking final ACAC title
Men’s hockey team looks for back-to-back championships
The end is near.
With the moves to Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) level next season, Mount Royal’s Cougars men’s hockey team is looking to wrap up their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference tenure with a second straight championship.
If their regular season record is an indicator (27-4-1-3), they stand a good chance of doing just that.
Head coach Jean Laforest says, however, that the style of regular season play isn’t the same as regular season play.
“I think the game changes to be honest,” Laforest said. “You’re telling your guys to block shots. You’re more defensively oriented. There just isn’t as much room out there.”
“A guy who wouldn’t necessarily block a shot in the regular season is going to block it in playoffs.”
Defense isn’t something the Cougars have struggled with. Out of the eight teams in the ACAC, they have allowed the least amount of goals against with 64.
On top of solid defense, Laforest notes that in the playoffs the Cougars need to play a smarter, less flashy style of game.
“It’s important that we are avoiding those low-percentage plays in which we’re turning over the puck,” Laforest said. “We need to focus on the high-percentage plays.”
Darnell Glass, a forward for the Cougars, says players need to believe in the coach’s system to earn success.
“You come out and try to execute your system,” said Glass. “You try and play sound defensively and when you get the chance, take the puck to the net. Greasy goals win games.”
While the playoff style may be more difficult to play in, Glass says the games themselves are more meaningful.
“It’s easy to get up for these games,” Glass said. “Everybody knows if you don’t show up for these games you’ll be golfing within a week or two.”
Repeating wont simply be the same as last year, though. Laforest noted that it’s not the same team this year.
“We have 14 new faces this year, so more than half the team has been changed,” Laforest said. “We want to create our own path with this group. Every year you’re presented with different opportunities and different challenges and I think that’s all based on the personnel that you have.”
Regardless if they win, the Cougars face a tough transition moving forward. Glass notes that the CIS league is more challenging.
“CIS is a good league and will be tough going up there,” Glass said. “It would be nice to give our school back-to-back championships before moving up.”
Laforest says that ending their ACAC tenure with a championship win is something that the team would love to do. He says defending their title would be the best way to exit the league.
“You can’t guarantee or script these things,” Laforest said. “We won it last year. We’ll attempt to repeat. We’re putting our best foot forward in an effort to do that.”
Last year’s title didn’t come without controversy. The Cougars’ win was almost revoked due to the dressing of a back-up goalie in a fashion not compliant with league regulations.
When asked if he planned to dress any goalies that wouldn’t normally play, Laforest laughed.
“We took care of that already,” says Laforest. “We have three full-time students as our goalies. We’re set in that area.”
The Cougars are hoping to bring a championship back to Mount Royal and leave the ACAC with a bang.