By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield boys hockey team will not have a winning record in the Wisconsin Valley Conference this season and will have to fight and claw even to get to the .500 mark overall. However, that does not mean the Tigers are a team in turmoil.
After starting the season 2-7-1, Marshfield had won three of its last five games prior to Tuesday’s matchup with Wisconsin Rapids, including earning its first shutout of the year with a 1-0 victory over Regis/Altoona/McDonell Jan. 21.
Marshfield suffered through a 6-17-1 season a year ago, going 2-9 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. With four conference and six overall games remaining, the Tigers will look to build off their recent momentum as they head toward the WIAA playoffs beginning Feb. 14.
“We are pleased that our team is continuing to support each other even after some tough losses,” Marshfield coach Eric Bowman said. “Hockey is truly a team sport, and all players on the ice and on the bench must contribute in some way in order to field a successful team. The boys are banding together and spending time together away from the rink, which is important.
“The staff and students at the school are also very supportive of our team, which goes a long way in developing our confidence. We are starting to see a shift in that culture of our team. When we lose, guys are not happy and are working hard the next day. When we win, players want to win by more. They are starting to show a competitive level that we must continue to develop if we want to turn our program into a successful program.”
With only four seniors and one junior on the roster, the Tigers are fighting uphill in most games just based on experience.
The play of leading scorer Zach Schmidt, Colin Barth, and goalkeeper Haydon Roy-Peterson, three of the team’s seniors, as well as junior Tyler Spaeth and a strong group of sophomores has Bowman excited for the rest of the season.
“As a coaching staff, we have some lofty goals that we would like to achieve in the final weeks of the season heading into playoffs,” Bowman said. “Our primary concern is winning the two games against teams from Section 2 so we can have a better position in the postseason (Regis, which the Tigers did on Saturday, and Chequamegon on Jan. 31). We also would like to get some wins in conference so that we can finish higher than we have in the past.
“We set a goal to get 10 wins at the beginning of the season, and we have a chance to make that happen, but we will have to play very well late in the season and beat a few teams we are not expected to in order to make that goal. This team is confident in their ability to make that happen.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.