Just as our ice hockey team found its groove, COVID-19 quarantine restrictions forced its season to an abrupt end, one game before conference playoffs. Head Coaches Greg DaSilva and Chris Wiggins broke the unwelcome news to their team last night in a Zoom meeting. While both coaches recognize the importance of health precautions, they understand their players' profound disappointment. The duo believes that in this experience, their sport provided another chance to teach their skaters strength and resiliency.
"It's extremely frustrating, especially for our seniors, but it's a good lesson that sometimes life isn't fair," said Coach DaSliva. "It's unfortunate and unlikely timing. All season, teams have come and gone with taking breaks for positive cases. But the State told individual leagues to wrap up winter sports March 6. It's a timing issue. We just can't fit it in. With our team in quarantine until March 4, we can't have the semifinal and final games in two days. It's not to be."
This unwelcome finish comes right as the Knights showed tremendous progress on the ice, with a 3-4-2 record. "We started to hit our stride, with all our work in practices really coming together," said Coach Wiggins. "It's a good team, and we started to scratch the surface of being a great team in our conference."
Coach DaSilva credits his seniors' dedication the past four years for making GSB's program what it is today. "Our program has grown tremendously in our seniors' four years here," he said. "Their freshman year was our second year coaching, and the year before, our team didn't win a game. They improved every year. They grew as young men and are much more mature. It's an impressive group of guys. With them graduating, it will be a big loss to our program."
Team captains Brenen Lavoie '21, a forward, and defensive players Liam Jones '21 and Matt Cooper '21 practiced diligently to hone their skills. "Our captains are good players who worked hard and made a tremendous impact in games," said Coach DaSilva. "It's incredible how much they grew – especially their senior year – in their focus and drive." Seniors Connor Udoff '21 and Jake Schmidt '21 also demonstrated great gains. "Their growth was significant," said Coach Wiggins. "They were both an integral part of our team, game contributors playing on our top lines."
At last night's team meeting, coaches first talked logistics and then turned to the future. "We talked about the timing, that it's unfortunate the league can't push things back to make it work," said Coach DaSilva. "Then we focused on moving forward and making each other laugh."
He knows that resiliency will be this team's legacy, as this season's ender was the second tough close his squad faced. Last year, the Knights lost the division championship with 30 seconds to go.
"All sports teach life lessons that go way beyond sports," said Coach DaSilva. "Sometimes life isn't fair. You take it on the chin and keep moving forward. This wasn't due to a mistake, where you gain an opportunity to learn something to make it better. But we're making the most of it. Hopefully, we'll come out of this better humans."