Goals on Goals: Boys Hockey

The West Salem Panthers hockey team had one main goal going into the season according to juniors Sam Szymanski and Nathan Gribble: make it to the state tournament. Soon after the season began, however, that changed. The team was playing well when the season started, but as injuries started to pop up, and fatigue started to set in, the team started to have some troubles. As the injuries started to occur, that meant some younger players had to step up and play in roles they never had before. The team went on a 5-game losing streak in the middle of the season.

 The team was able to recover and still earn a share of the Coulee Conference title, but their chance at making it to state was looking a little more slim. After the 5-game skid, Sam Szymanski added some smaller goals to his season that would help the team out more. “We need to get the younger guys more involved so we can be ready for the future,” said Syzmanski. “I am not going to give up on this team and I will still push to get to the state tournament.” 

If you ask the team members how they think this season has gone, they would say disappointing, but they would also say they have learned a lot on how to be a team player and how to be a leader. They learned many of these lessons from the coaching staff. “The main goal in the season is always to win, that is always the first goal, but our coaching staff added our own goal of teaching these guys how to win, but also teaching them how to be respectful men as well,” said coach Borre. “We want to teach how to be respectful on and off the ice and I think we did that well this year.”

 Players on the hockey team seem to agree. “The coaching staff is something I will carry with me the rest of my life,” said senior Jackson Odenback. “They have taught me to be a leader on and off the ice and I will use that even after I am out of high school.” 

Another hard part about this season is the team has been bogged down with injuries all season long which has made it hard for the players. “This season has been very up and down, it seems like we can’t catch a break with injuries,” said junior Nathan Gribble. “I don’t think we have had a fully healthy team all year and that is the big reason we have had our troubles.” 

Overall, these guys have been working hard to make the best of a difficult season and it has shown, as they have been playing very well as of lately with a 2-0 win against the Avalanche and a hard-fought 5-4 win against Monona Grove in the Wisconsin Rapids tournament. The team had one goal at the beginning of the season, but some players have added a couple individual ones to their list. “I am going to go out on the ice and get better in some way, and work as hard as I can every single day,” said Gribble. The season came to an end with a playoff run on February 20th against Menominee with a score of 7-2.