Westside Hockey Faces Year Of Rebuilding


Image courtesy of Westside parent Linda Loontjer

The Westside Hockey team has had to rebuild their team this year, after seven seniors graduated and left the program.

The Westside Hockey Club will face-off against Creighton Prep’s hockey team for the second time this season on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at 8:45 p.m. at Baxter Arena. 

Head Coach of the organization, Tom Shaffer, said that he feels confident about the new group so far. He said they have had some good wins as well as tough losses. 

“Our biggest weakness is probably our roster size and injuries,” Shaffer said. “We have the smallest roster, 14 rostered players in the league and have had played without a full roster most games. This is due to injuries that we are hoping to put behind us soon.”

In addition to the team’s problem with a smaller roster, they also lost seven seniors from the previous season. Over half of the team are underclassmen, so they have had to work on getting all the players on a similar pace. Regardless of the setbacks, the team ranks 6th out of 11 teams in their division and plans on only getting better from here. Shaffer said the team’s strength lies within their defense. 

 “We stress [strong defense] as a coaching staff and build our teams around solid defense,” Shaffer said. “Three of our four defensemen from last year returned and they have helped keep us competitive so far this season, while others are learning our system and their roles.”

Shaffer said that there has been quite a bit of improvement so far this season, however, there is still work to be done.

“So far this group has shown promise and has been improving,” Shaffer said. “We have a long way to go though to get back into a position to be a state championship contender.”

Last Wednesday, Nov. 20, Westside faced off against Prep and lost 0-7. This week, they have adjustments planned to limit Prep’s scoring chances. 

“[Prep] [is] a very talented team that returned almost all their players,” Shaffer said. “They have talent at every position and were a favorite to win state going into this season.”

Right-wing sophomore Nikolas Loontjer said that the team has had varied success this season. Loontjer said that the team does not let their losses affect them; they all show up to practice ready to work and improve. 

“We lost many seniors who held us together last year, so as a team we are learning to begin getting stronger and play the game our own way,” Loontjer said. “It’s a very long season for us and as of right now, we aren’t focused on who we win against, we are just focused on ourselves and improving as a team.” 

Shaffer said that the team would appreciate the attendance and support from Westside community members.

“The Westside fans are the best in the league and the players really can feel their presence when they attend,” Shaffer said. “I would encourage everybody to come out Wednesday night for the 8:45 [p.m.] game at Baxter and cheer on the Warriors.”