This Week in the ECAC Northeast

Oftentimes in sports, things don’t always go as you would expect them. (For further clarification, ask any fan of the New England Patriots.)

That can certainly be said of the Worcester State Lancers program this season. Currently in 12th place with a 2-10-0 record, the team in enduring an injury riddled campaign the likes of which have never been seen by coach John Guiney.

“Overall, it’s been pretty rough, but it’s all injury related,” said Guiney. “In 16 years of coaching, I’ve never seen anything like this. Mark Rintel broke his leg in the fourth game of the season, Billy O’Neill’s missed the whole second semester with a concussion.

“In the same game Rintel got hurt, we had Mark Bucci cut tendons in his hand when he went into the corner and a skate blade went through his glove into his hand. Matt Auwater also suffered a high ankle sprain. All of these injuries, plus the flu, has made it a real strange season.”

Despite an overall record of 2-18-0, and a losing streak that ran more than two months, Guiney feels the team can’t be judged on wins and losses.

“Our record isn’t indicative of the team we have, it’s just bad luck,” he said. “We’ve played better recently. The kids recognize where we’re at, that we’re missing Rintel and O’Neil, and they’ve stepped up.”

With the shortened bench, Guiney has had to make adjustments.

“You move some guys around due to the injuries, and you realize you don’t have the depth you thought you did back in October. At the beginning of the year, we had three good lines, and four to five good defensemen. The injuries changed things dramatically.

“The kids have kept a good attitude. They come to practice, they work hard. It hasn’t been a negative season, it’s been a tough season. We’re a young team, we only have three seniors. We’re looking forward to next year.”

Guiney has been helped out by some of his players realizing they need to take on more.

“Some of the kids have been stepping up,” Guiney noted. “Lee Belisle’s done a really good job for us. These kids are 100% behind what we’re doing. Injuries are a bad excuse. We’re putting a lot of pressure on these kids, as we’re asking them to play a lot of minutes. There are no gifts in this league.”

Among those players seeing a lot of ice time are Chris Wallin, William Knauber, and Nathan Perrault. These three have suddenly become the defense. Another player who has shown his coach a lot in terms of toughness is freshman forward Justin Brownstein.

“He may have a broken wrist. I know he’s playing hurt, but he shows up to play. I keep asking him how he is, and he keeps telling me ‘I’ll be okay.’ These kids don’t look at the schedule or record. It would be easy to quit, but they haven’t done that.”

As the season winds down, Framingham State has games left against Curry, Sale Regina, Assumption, and Plymouth State. Guiney hopes to end strong.

“On paper, we could win a couple of games. We have the ability, but it’s the depth. We have small numbers to work with. You could sit and dwell on how bad it’s going, but what good will that do?”