Systematic synergy

Team play leads to victories for Blackhawk hockey

Devin Daley and Kayla Eaton

The Blackhawk Cougars hockey team ended November with only three wins in their first nine games. December, however, has been looking up for them as they have wins against Carrick and Indiana, who both reside above the Cougars in the standings.

Senior Stuart Skogsholm accounted the recent success to the team’s ability to implement the strategic system the coaches want to utilize this year.

“We started to play better as a team recently and it has allowed us to play better defensively. We calmed ourselves down recently and found that if we play our system then we will be able to beat anybody we play,” Skogsholm said.
This year the team’s system isn’t that different from last year’s system, but Skogsholm described it as “tweaked”.

The system this year isn’t necessarily hard to learn for the long time players, but the challenge lies in the team maintaining its level of discipline throughout the game. When the team concentrates on playing within itself and playing as one unit, they have found success.

“Recently we have been playing well as a team as well as playing smart and keeping the game as simple as possible. When we do that as well as keep our positioning correct when we occasionally implement our trap that our coach likes, we have been very successful,” Sophomore Jimmy Kelly-Tindall said.

Looking at both what Skogsholm and Kelly-Tindall have said discipline is easily highlighted as a key factor for the team. The players have to look at the team side of things rather than their individual gain in order for their strategy to work. This is especially the case with traps as when a player is out of position the trap can be easily broken, providing the opposing team’s odd man rushes and quality scoring opportunities. In order for the team to provide themselves those same opportunities, they have to stay in position to force their opponents into spaces where they commit turnovers.

This was the case on December 7 when Blackhawk traveled to Carrick, who was the top team in the division. By dictating the tempo of the game with the trap, causing neutral zone turnovers and playing an overall team oriented game the Cougars put together their most complete performance of the season.

“It felt good to beat Carrick because we knew they were one of the top teams and that we hadn’t started well. We came out and played well and we got the win,” Kelly-Tindall said.

Factor in the fact that the Cougars’ 5-1 win over Indiana on December 7, and it seems that this team is on an upswing and should look to sustain their success going forward.

“We are looking forward to the rest of the season and we think that we are capable of getting a playoff spot when the end of the year comes,” Skogsholm said.