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Goal scoring has been bright spot, early surprise for Troy hockey

December 5, 2012

» click to enlarge «
Troy’s John Hunter gets ready to take a shot in a game Dec. 1. Despite graduating its top three scorers (80 goals) from last year’s team, Troy is averaging 4.5 per game.

TROY — Roster turnover in the sport of hockey, with graduation and the never-ending temptation of junior or travel leagues, is a constant that coaches deal with from one winter to the next.

And it’s nothing new for Troy High headman Tim Zimmerman.

But when the 2012-13 squad began taking shape, Zimmerman had a bit of understandable uneasiness about him.

“Well,” he began with a laugh. “We’re a team trying to replace its top three scorers from a year ago. I don’t know if that’s ever happened to me before.”

The Colts ended last season 15-10-0, but with the graduation of two players, and another deciding to play elsewhere, Zimmerman was left with the task of replacing a total of 80 goals scored last year.

“You couple that with the fact we were bringing in two goalies without a ton of experience, and it was a tough spot to be in,” Zimmerman said.

“How were we going to score? How were we going to keep pucks out?”

The season is still young, but Zimmerman finds himself more surprised and more pleased every day.

“Very happy so far. Very happy,” he said. “The guys have bought into what we’re teaching, they’ve played as a team should, and we’ve done pretty well so far.”

Six games into the year, the Colts were 3-3-0 and had found the back of the net 27 times, or 4.5 goals per game.

“It’s been a good start,” senior Edmund Qiao said. “The younger guys have stepped up, which has been nice.”

“A good surprise, so far,” senior defenseman Colin McLean said. “When you’re playing with as many young guys and new guys as we are, you never know what you’re going to get. But everyone’s been contributing so far.”

Contributions coming from up and down the roster are a must, according to Zimmerman.

“We don’t have a superstar or that one player that can carry us,” Zimmerman said. “It’s just been that team effort. It started with some of our seniors and our returning guys setting the example. The rest of the team has followed from there.”

Qiao laughed when asked what exactly he expected coming into the season, admitting a certain bit of nervousness due to how much offense was lost.

McLean agreed, also seeing it as a fresh start.

“New guys in new roles,” he said.

The two spoke after a Nov. 30 practice at the Troy Sports Center.

By no coincidence, the final 40 minutes of the practice centered on post-shot deflections, one-timers and work on the power play, capped off with an all-out, cross-ice scrimmage, where generating scoring chances was the main objective.

Sure, nerves were high coming into the year, but six games in, some have been calmed by the potential now visible.

“This team has a chance to be good,” Zimmerman said simply. “Our goal is to compete in every game we play in, and if we’re able to do that, I think we’ll be happy by the time the season ends.”

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