The upcoming weekend will come down to the old cliché: "Who wants it more?" Potsdam, Brockport and Geneseo are all competing for the final SUNYAC playoff spot. There are numerous playoff scenarios that I could discuss, but the bottom line is that we can only control what we do on the ice.
Stephen Covey, the author of "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," often discusses the importance of only controlling your sphere of influence. If we were to concern ourselves with what the other teams are doing, we are ultimately losing focus on the task at hand. Right now, the task is to beat Potsdam on Friday night. We will be missing a few key players to injury, but we have the depth to put men in that we trust to do the job.
This week in practice we will work on all aspects of our game. We are especially working on how to maintain a balance when it comes to scoring goals and keeping the puck out of our own net. For the first portion of the season, we struggled putting pucks in the net and we did a great job of keeping opponents to three goals or below. Now, we are scoring goals but in doing so, we are opening our play up and becoming vulnerable defensively. If we can successfully find the right dosage of each, we will be a very healthy team.
Despite some very disappointing losses, we have made strides in terms of team conference statistics. Our scoring offense has risen all the way to fourth and our penalty kill is working at 87 percent, which ranks us behind Plattsburgh and Oswego. Our combined special teams are an excellent 53 percent, again, ranking us behind the aforementioned teams. I am most excited about the improvements in our power play. We are now approaching 20 percent, which will prove to be very important in the upcoming weekend.
The competition between Potsdam and the Ice Knights on Friday night will be an exciting one. Both teams have everything to gain with a victory. Both teams are relatively young and have experienced highs and lows during the season. The one thing that the Ice Knights have that the Bears do not is players in the locker room that have experienced a championship run. Seniors Steve Sankey, Derek Jokic, Ram Sidhu, Trent Cassan and Mathieu Cyr understand the commitment and excellence needed to win huge games. Their backs have been against the proverbial wall before and I am confident they will lead by example.
Basketball coaching legend Bobby Knight retired this week. While I do not condone some of his on-court antics, I do appreciate most of his coaching philosophies. Knight often spoke about cohesion in the locker room and having a group of individuals that worked together for the common good both on and off the court without any selfishness. The team always came first in his programs. If the Ice Knights show, feel and breathe team, I like our chances.