Briercrest hockey looks back on a season of progress
There is growing momentum in the men's hockey program at Briercrest. Success breeds success, and the expectation of positive results is what defines certain programs and their tradition of excellence. The Briercrest Clippers can look back on their 2014/2015 campaign with some hard-won satisfaction, knowing that they took some very important and promising steps.
Although they finished one spot out of the playoffs, there are many positives on which to build. Wins and points in the standings were almost doubled from the previous season, and their seventh place finish was two spots better than last year. This was the highest scoring team Briercrest has ever had, and their team defense and solid goaltending allowed 53 fewer goals against than last season. Powerplay efficiency was the highest it's been in six seasons. This was a year where almost every game was tightly contested. Only a handful of games got out of reach- and the Clippers were on the winning side of half of those.
It was also a season of some notable individual achievements. In his fifth and final year with the team, Manny Schellenberg finished seventh all-time in Briercrest scoring. Fourth year forward Taylor Epp reached eleventh. Erik Robitaille graduated and had a very strong season on defense. Captain Josh Dufresne played in his 100th game as a Clipper, and Jacob Baribeau was one of only five players in the league to play every game over the last two seasons. Aaron Armstrong was both the ACAC rookie of the year and first team all-star.
Everyone around this team could see the potential and promise that has been displayed throughout the season- including opposition players and coaches. Blaine Gusdal took over the Augustana Vikings' hockey program seven years ago, when they were continually outside the playoff picture, and guided it toward a culture of excellence. He spoke about the parallels between what he's done and what is happening at Briercrest: "I know that the Clippers are headed toward that kind of a culture. Once you get to that level, then guys show up to the rink expecting to win rather than hoping to win."
Briercrest head coach Jamie Ramer shares this optimism about the future. "I agree with the many who have seen and pointed out the positives from this past season," says Ramer. "There is much we can celebrate which not only includes success on the ice but also how we attempted to live out our faith on and off the ice. We have learned lots and yet we have a lot yet to learn. We want to keep moving forward at all levels as we look towards next season. I am grateful for the partnership of a great support staff, alumni and the best fans in the ACAC. I'm excited to be a part of Briercrest Athletics and the College as a whole and the unique opportunity we offer student athletes."
To say that it's easy to be proud of this group of guys would be an understatement. They exhibit Christ-like character within a hockey subculture that can be morally toxic. Their growing success in the standings is inspiring and well-earned; even more commendable is the manner in which they play.
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