Tritons Look to Get Healthy, Rebound After Break

    Plagued by injuries, the Tritons have struggled after a strong start, dropping their record to 5-7. UCSD hopes to get healthy during the break in order to make a playoff push during the second half of the season. (Ching Wu/Guardian)

    CLUB SPORTS — The men’s hockey team has had its share of ups and downs this season. After coming out of the gate strong and winning three out of its first four games, the Tritons suffered a five-game losing streak which they hope to snap before focusing their sights on the playoffs.

    After many weekends of traveling, UCSD finally played its home opener against UC Irvine at UTC Ice Town on Nov. 21. Junior forward Casey Gong’s impressive five-goal, six-point display was not enough for UCSD, and the team fell to the Anteaters 10-9. The match was UCSD’s last of the quarter, with play resuming on Jan. 10 against Cal State Northridge at home. Moving forward, the team hopes to step up its game and squeeze into the playoffs.

    “I think we haven’t played to our potential,” senior forward Ken Yamashita said. “We had higher hopes coming into the season, and with a couple of early wins we definitely felt strong. Lately we have slid off and we definitely should have done better.”

    Injuries have been a major concern for the Tritons, evidenced by their two-game set at Northern Arizona University on Nov. 14 and 15. UCSD traveled to the desert with less than two full lines. Meanwhile, the Ice Jacks were equipped with four full lines for the series. As a result, the Tritons were pummeled 10-1 and 13-3 in the contests.

    Still, there have been a few bright spots for the Tritons this season that give them hope for better results come January.

    “One player that has really stepped up for us lately is our goalie, Ben Cohen,” Yamashita said. “He has kept us in games and has at times been the lone reason we have stayed in games.”

    For the Tritons to advance to the postseason, UCSD must crack the top 10 in its division during the regular season and, currently sitting in 11th place, the playoffs are well within reach. After loads of travel and playing without a full squad, UCSD will use the upcoming break to recuperate and re-energize for the second half of the season.

    “In order to make the playoffs, we must mainly play smart and with endurance,” Yamashita said. “We have lost a couple of players so far, so endurance is key for us. We’ve played tired, which is where things have gone bad for us. This season has not gone as planned because we have not been playing smart and conserving enough energy.”

    As the team gets healthy and rested to resume play next month, the Tritons can only hope that the tough battles start paying off in the box score.

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