A cruel bit of irony, perhaps.
Potsdam, a team that has known nothing but the road this year, may have run out of road, or at least as it concerns the Bears’ playoff chances. With just four games remaining in the regular season, Potsdam finds itself in a really tough spot. Namely, the SUNYAC cellar.
Three points and three teams to jump over. That’s what stands between the Bears and the sixth and final playoff spot. Oh, and there’s a little six-game losing streak to try to snap.
“We’re trying not to look at the standings too much,” said top line winger Mike Arnold. “We’re taking it a day at a time, and hopefully getting two points and the result that we want. It’ll be nice to be home and ending a long, long road trip.”
This season, of course, has been one unending sojourn for the Bears, who were forced out of their familiar digs by extensive renovations at their home rink, Maxcy Hall Ice Arena.
Massena Arena, which sits 20 miles away from Potsdam, has been serving as the Bears’ home away from home, but they haven’t even played there since Nov. 25, which was 13 games ago. They have registered just one league win in that span.
All things considered — including the North Country’s often unpredictable winter — the make-do situation hasn’t been too bad, said Arnold, a junior from Didsbury, Alta., who is majoring in criminal justice.
“We have great crowd support there,” he said. “They’re always loud, and it’s a fun place to play. Busing to games is a little bit different, but we’ve had great support from the town and all the fans.”
By his own estimation, Arnold has had an “up and down” season.
He was simply sizzling during the first half dozen games, having potted an eye-popping 10 goals during that stretch, including a pair of hat tricks.
However, he has scored just four times since Nov. 17, with his tally of last Saturday at Buffalo State snapping a four-game goal drought.
“I’m not worried about the personal stuff,” he said. “If we win and take care of the team stuff, the personal stuff will take care of itself.”
Every sniper endures a cold streak, but not everyone has to endure an in-season bout of mono the way Arnold did. Needless to say, his illness left his game in an anemic state.
“Coach (Chris Bernard) would give me shifts off, here and there,” said Arnold. “And during the week, he’d go easier on me, knowing I didn’t have the energy for the first bit of the second semester.”
Slowly but surely, Arnold has rounded back into form. Hopefully for the Bears, it’s in the nick of time.
“I feel good now,” he said. “It took me a bit after Christmas to get back. But I feel good now. Hopefully, we can get a win next weekend.”
Wins are all important now for the Bears, whose last four games will be at “home.” Unfortunately for them, two of those tilts are against nationally-ranked teams, No. 2 Oswego and No. 14 Geneseo. For now, it’s Brockport, Friday’s opponent, that the Bears are concerned with.
“Hopefully,” said Arnold, “we’ll get one (goal) early.”