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Slow start is thing of past for WB hockey as season moves forward

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 13, 2011

 West Bloomfield’s Jacob Goryl (6) moves the puck up the ice during a 4-1 win against Berkley earlier this season. After a 1-3 start, the Lakers were 5-6-1 at press time.

West Bloomfield’s Jacob Goryl (6) moves the puck up the ice during a 4-1 win against Berkley earlier this season. After a 1-3 start, the Lakers were 5-6-1 at press time.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WEST BLOOMFIELD — When his team dropped three of its first four games, Jeff Lupu refused to panic.

When his offense couldn’t find that timely goal, he stuck with his system.

When the score in two separate games resulted in mercies, he looked at the bigger picture.

His patience is paying off.

“You look at what we’ve done so far, and how we started and where we are, and you have to be happy,” Lupu, the West Bloomfield High hockey coach, said last week. “Sure, we started slower than we would have liked, but we’ve started putting things together. We’ve started playing the way I thought we could.”

Fueled by a four-game winning streak, the Lakers were 5-6-1 at press time, a far cry from their 1-3 start. Their sputtering offense has come to life, and the defense, aside from those two lopsided losses, is giving up only about three goals a game.

“We hoped to be in a position like this,” Lupu added. “We were playing good hockey heading into the holiday break, and now we’ve put ourselves in a position to accomplish some pretty cool things as the season unfolds.”

That includes a shot at an Oakland Activities Association White Division title.

While they will need some help in the season’s final weeks, the Lakers still have an outside shot at at least contending for the title, thanks to a 4-2-1 record and third-place standing at press time.

Either way, the strides that have already been taken and the path where more are sure to follow as the season progresses has everyone in green and white optimistic.

“You compare where we were to start the season and where we are now, and it’s pretty incredible,” senior Zach Rogow said. “We always knew we had it in us, it was just a matter of putting it together.”

Where did the sudden resurgence come from?

“Our will to win has changed drastically,” senior Dylan Kamen explained. “I don’t know that we totally believed in ourselves or believed we could win when the season started. But as we’ve moved forward, we’ve gained more confidence and trust in one another. It’s like everything we do, we’re doing for the entire team to get better.”

“We’ve got each other’s backs now,” Rogow said. “It’s more of a team than we were earlier. We’ve done more on and off the ice together, and it’s only helped us improve.”
Whether that translates to more success as January turns to February and February gives way to the postseason is still to be seen.

But for now, the same team that was 1-3, lacking confidence and seemingly treading water, has transformed to a squad united in a mission with a full supply of confidence to fall back on.