Sporting WCA

Varsity Hockey Preview

Do you smell that? You might not, but be attentive. Take a quick whiff. What do you smell? Fall? No. Pumpkin Spice Latte? No. Deb’s Famous Spaghetti? Good guess, but no. You take another whiff; now you know what it is. You smell winter sports right around the corner.

It’s almost November, and it is a great time to be alive if you enjoy WCA athletics. One of the powerhouse sports available for your entertainment this winter is the Westminster Varsity Ice Hockey Team. You’d be hard pressed to find a faster, grittier sport this winter, so the Ice Cat’s are definitely worth watching.

As always, the Cats continue their fight to win the program’s first state championship this year. The team is coming off a 2014/15 season that had them finish 8th place state wide. Along with this, the Cats won their 5th straight conference title. Last season ended in disappointment, with the Wildcats bowing out of the playoffs in the first round, but the team is in a  strong position to make a deep run this year.

This year’s hockey team is full of experience, with five returning seniors and eight juniors. These veterans make up the bulk of the Cat’s offense, with only three forwards being underclassmen. The defense also retains its experience, with four of the seven D men being juniors or older.

Goaltending has always been a strong suit of the Cats, and the 2015/16 season is no different. Senior goalie Scott Caldwell, who attends Windsor High School, is back between the pipes in the starting role. Freshman Sam Haupfear is his backup, but is a strong player who can always challenge for starts.

Even though hockey is a winter sport, the Ice Cats have been practicing since late August in preparation for the season. In September, the Wildcats claimed their first championship of the year, winning five out of five games to win the Marquette Invitational. Their next pre season tournament was the Webster Groves Top Hat Cup, but teams like Lindbergh, SLUH, and CBC would make this a much more difficult task. The tougher competition caught the Cats off guard, and the tournament was sloppy to say the least. In four games, the Cats lost two with a win and a draw to boot. Head Coach Tom Canfield had mixed feelings on the team’s pre season campaign.

“We came out of  the gate strong, enthusiastic, and determined in the Marquette tourney but once we had some success, we quickly became too comfortable. We went from playing an intense team game to a casual individual game in the Top Hat tourney.” said Canfield.

Even with all their pre season action, the team is still a work in progress. In order to be a team that competes with the top squads, the Cats will need to work hard. The coaching staff was very clear on the team’s goals for the season, as were the players.

“We have to get back to the basics of what made us successful early on and become more difficult to play against game in and game out. The team needs to commit to never being out worked by an opponent, and to commit to one another as we pursue success as one team. This year is the hardest schedule (the team) has ever had, so we have to work that much harder.” said Canfield.

Hockey season is a long one, so only time will tell how the year turns out for the Varsity Hockey team. For now, be sure to cheer on the Ice Cats as they pursue their 6th straight Rockwood Conference championship and another great season.