With four games remaining in the regular season, the playoff push is in full effect for the Concordia College Men’s Hockey team. The Cobbers are 12-8-1 overall and are currently fifth in the conference with a conference record of 6-5-1 good for 20 points on the season.
The top five teams in the conference standings at the end of the season make it to the conference tournament. Saint Johns is just behind the Cobbers with a conference record of 5-5-2 and 17 points.
This past weekend, the Cobbers split their series with St. Thomas, winning 5-4 in overtime on Friday before falling short 5-0 on Saturday.
The two games against the Tommies, who hold the best record in the conference, were the 18th and 19th games in which the Cobbers played a team with a winning record at the start of the game. With rigorous schedule, head coach Chris Howe knew going into the season that his team needed to have a different approach.
“My word of the year has been process,” Howe said. “I wanted my guys to detach from the results. We want to win games but if we focused solely on that, with the schedule we played, it would’ve been easy to get frustrated if it didn’t go well.”
Jon Grebosky, a junior who is leading the team in points for the second consecutive year, knows it’s a about the process and doesn’t talk about wins or losses.
“I think we need to try and be our best every single night,” Grebosky said. “In the MIAC, you only play 25 games a year so it’s important to come out and give our best effort every single night.”
Senior Garrett Hendrickson is also focused on the process but he knows the importance of winning down the stretch. He doesn’t want his college career to be over without success.
“I’m just trying to take it day by day, knowing these might be the last games I’ll ever play,” Hendrickson said.
The progress that the Cobbers are striving for is being obtained. Goaltending is important to all hockey teams and the Cobbers, who entered the season with two freshman goaltenders, Sam Nelson and Jacob Stephan, have not suffered from their lack of experience at the position. Both goalies are top ten in the conference in save percentage and Nelson leads the conference in saves.
“They’ve been everything I wanted them to be,” Howe said.
Although the contributions of young players like Nelson and Stephan have been paramount to the success of the Cobbers this season, Howe believes his upperclassmen have helped the underclassmen develop.
“Our leadership has been great. … Our captains and upperclassmen have been outstanding, which makes it easy on the young guys,” Howe said.
This year, the team added a new member to its coaching staff. Matt Hansen, who played for the Cobbers from 2001 to 2005, joined the staff after leaving an assistant position at Fargo Davies High School. Hansen says he is happy with where the team is heading.
“It’s a lot different from when I played. It’s very positive and it’s fun to come to the rink everyday and be around a positive group,” Hansen said. “Back in 04-05 when I played, we didn’t win a lot.”
This Friday and Saturday, the Cobbers will host St. Olaf for a two-game series.