Time off can be a team’s worst enemy as momentum can be brought to a halt, making it difficult for players to pick up where they left off.
The SAIT Trojans men’s hockey and women’s volleyball teams were faced with the challenge of continuing their strong play from the first half of the season into the new year.
Both teams found themselves with winning streaks when they headed into the holilday break, and both saw the effects of a lengthy break from their respective sports.
Head coach for the Trojans men’s hockey team, Dan Olsen, noticed the impact during the team’s first game back against the Briercrest College Eagles on Jan. 6.
“We could definitely see the rust, as our skating and timing were off,” Olsen said.
“There were some guys who enjoyed Christmas a bit too much.”
Unfortunately, the team was not able to compete in exhibition games during the break, despite their best efforts to organize a couple of games against Mount Royal and the University of Calgary.
“We had to have the guys bring it during practice to have our conditioning and timing down,” Olsen said, regarding the first practice as a team in the new year.
Despite time away from the ice, players had the opportunity to train at Peak Power Sport Development, the training facility at SAIT, which is where assistant coach Brett Bartman works.
Programs were set up to ensure that players were training at least twice a week at the facility, giving them the chance to remain active.
“Some guys even went three to four times a week,” Olsen said.
“It helped us, as the guys weren’t as out of shape.”
With playoffs fast approaching, Olsen is looking to get back to the way the team played during its eight-game winning streak, in order to be ready for the post-season.
“We have to stay disciplined, work with our team speed, and not get distracted.
“We have to focus on what we can control and how we play.”
Head coach for the women’s volleyball team, Art O’Dwyer, views the second half as an opportunity to further build on the team’s success during the first half of the year, as it entered the break with an nine-game winning streak.
“We’re adding things to what we can already do,” O’Dwyer said.
“We worry more about us than the other teams.”
The second half of a season can be seen as a fresh start for teams which may have gotten off to a slower start. O’Dwyer believes there are other teams in the ACAC volleyball south division they have to be wary of.
“Teams come in having nothing to lose and nothing to prove,” O’Dwyer said.
“We just have to make sure we stay focused and know what to do to be successful.”
As of Jan. 17, the Trojans found themselves in a three-way tie with Red Deer College and Briercrest College for top spot in the south division, making the second half that much more crucial.
O’Dwyer sees the remaining games as an opportunity for one of the three teams to pull away from the rest, but ultimately believes the games they play against one another will allow each team to see how they stack up.
“It’ll come down to the matches with the other top teams,” O’Dwyer said.
We worry more about us than the other teams – Art O’Dwyer
As the season slowly comes to a close, O’Dwyer hopes to see his team stick to what it does best and not fall into the other team’s game plan.
“We have to work better and be better every day and every week,” O’Dwyer said.
“It’s important to learn or do something new in the second half. Otherwise it gets pretty stale.”