The future of Elder Hockey

Predicting the future years of Elder's seemingly dwindling hockey program

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The future of Elder Hockey

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Elder’s Hockey program is nearing its 20th season. Despite starting out as a club team in 2002 open to all, the hockey program today is an official Elder team for which only Elder students can play. As the ice Panthers’ 2019-2020 season comes to a close, thoughts towards next year’s season become more prevalent. In years past, the hockey program yielded a whopping 71 players.

This season, the program had about 30 members in its ranks. However, eleven of those thirty skaters happen to be seniors, who will sadly no longer be eligible to play for the Panthers in future years. With numbers thinning, the future for Elder’s hockey program remains uncertain. Although this year’s freshman class contributed about 10 skaters, who knows if next year’s incoming students will be able to do the same. As a gruduating senior, I can only hope that the program I’ve put so much time into is able to continue.

Panthers celebrate a 3-2 OT victory in Troy

Despite rarely having full benches in the past five years, the success in the past few seasons is somewhat remarkable. Current senior captain Colin Teal played for the ’17-’18 team as a sophomore. He describes that team as one of the most talented and competitive teams he has ever played for.  The 2017-2018 varsity team went 23-10, and their team along with the 2018-2019 squad recorded the program’s first two state playoff wins.

In the past two years, as the Panthers lost experienced players who have played before high school, their win totals have also decreased. However, this year’s teams have still managed to crank out a few W’s, including two OT wins against Troy, a win against Maumee in Toledo, as well as a thrilling senior night victory against Whitmer high school.

Senior Joe Corey scored twice in Elder’s victory on senior night. I flagged him down in school and got his take on the big game. He responded saying: “It was great for all the seniors to win on their big night. It was also nice to score twice; I feel like I helped my team out”. I speak for the whole team when I say that winning on senior night was a game that we will never forget.

Despite only two players on the roster having pre-Elder experience, the 2019-2020 team has managed to stay strong while playing against much more experienced competition. Hopefully future team’s are able to replicate their persistence, as well as recruit other, more experienced or athletic students to join the program and help lead the team to success.

With only a few games in the 2019-2020 season remaining, the Panthers hope to end the season on a good note. “A win at U.S. Bank Arena would be an awesome way to end the season,” said senior Ryan Evans, “and maybe an upset run in the state playoffs.” After U.S. Bank, the Panthers should get a spot in the state playoffs, maybe coming away with a victory in the first round like last year’s team.

Although Elder’s hockey future remains up in the air, I think the program will continue to thrive for years to come. Many of the current sophomores and freshman possess great potential, and with any luck they will be able to recruit their classmates and future underclassmen to join the program. While the past two years haven’t been the best in terms of win records, I am certain that the future appears solid and the program will only expand to pull more Panthers out onto the ice.