“Do the same things you do that got you there.”
According to Hobart coach Mark Taylor, it is a simple focus on doing the same things that created success in the season and led Hobart to the big stage setting at the Frozen Four. Consistency in effort and commitment to the style of play are critical in winning hockey, now even more so with a shot at the national title on the line.
“At this point of the season, we are enjoying the extra time together as a team and the chance to play for a championship,” noted Taylor. “We are having fun together as a group and know we have a big challenge in front of us on Friday night against Wisconsin–Stevens Point. Unlike a neutral site, we know the place will be rocking with their fans on Friday, so it should be a great atmosphere for hockey — one I am sure both teams will get excited about. At this point, the focus for us is to play hard, play as a team, and play for each other.”
Hobart earned its semifinal berth with a solid 3-2 road win at Oswego last Saturday. It took a full 60-minute effort to get by the Lakers, and their coach expects more of the same on Friday night.
“You know you are going to play someone really good at this point of the season,” said Taylor. “You better bring your A game, and we will need to against the Pointers. I have looked at some film, and they play hard and as a team and give great effort in all parts of the ice. It is going to be a good challenge for our team, but one we are excited about.”
Last weekend, special teams made a difference for the Statesmen as they scored both power play and short-handed goals that proved critical in the win. While the season-long numbers haven’t been impressive on special teams, the individual game results and performance mean more right now.
“The statistics are what they are,” said Taylor. “At this point of the season, it is more about looking at what we did in the game, and those are the numbers that matter. Last week we got one on the power play and a big goal short-handed to help win the special teams battle. We aren’t worried about the percentages, but want to win aspects of the game on Friday night that can help us win.”
Freshman Liam Lascelle will be in the spotlight as he battles WSP’s Connor Ryckman in their respective creases. Lascelle (1.64 goals-against average; 935 save percentage; four shutouts) has emerged as the number one netminder for Hobart, and the team’s confidence in him has grown with every outing and win throughout the second half of the season.
“Liam has been outstanding for us,” noted Taylor. “You know the numbers Alex [Connal] had for us last year, so for him to take the job shows his competitive nature and drive to be the very best. At this point of the season, he is hardly a freshman anymore, but I am sure he, like the rest of his teammates, is looking forward to playing in front of a full house on Friday.”
Hobart will face the nation’s number one team in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. local time on Friday evening looking to tag the first loss of the season on the Pointers and advance to Saturday’s national championship game.