Friday, February 15, 2013

Oxford ready for start of OAA playoffs tonight

OXFORD, MI – At the midpoint of the season, the Oxford varsity hockey team was having an up-and-down season in terms of wins and losses, but optimism, and better play, has been peaking in recent weeks as the Wildcats enter the OAA playoffs tonight.

With a mix of young players and veterans, OHS head coach Dave Hague said the team’s chemistry this year has been key to all the players buying into the systems and achieving success.

“It’s an enjoyable group of guys this year,” said Hague. “All 22 players are close and have a great deal of respect for each other. Often times you have groups of friends, but this season, it’s one large group of friends – almost too good of friends at times. We went to Canada to start the year and beat three good teams. We've had high expectations this year and I think when we returned, we got way ahead of ourselves. Expectations are one thing, but nothing successful in life comes without hard work and commitment. That's especially the case this season, where all eight teams in our division are strong. If there is a gap from one to eight, it’s not much of one.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard and we learned that earlier in the year. Hard work and discipline are a necessity and we've seem to have found a balance of that the last month or so.”

Senior goalie Adam Pardonoff is also elated at how well the Wildcats have played in front of him on a nightly basis.

“I think this season is a lot of fun,” Pardonoff said. “We got a lot of great players and we’re finally starting to put our talents together to play as a team and win games. We have improved the most as a team in our ability to stay disciplined and our ability to not get tired. Coach Dave has made sure we have legs and cardio. As a senior, I try to make sure the underclassmen work hard and have a lot of fun to be a part of the team.”

While the Wildcats’ roster inevitably changes each year, mostly due to seniors graduating, the new players that come aboard see right away that the Oxford program isn’t run like a typical high school organization.

“We were slow in the beginning, but we’re getting back in the groove,” freshman forward Tyler Majewski said. “As a freshman, I have learned how to play smarter hockey and to compete every time I'm on the ice. Coach Dave has been my best coach yet. The older guys have been nice and have let me in their group. They have helped me out a lot this season and gave me great tips so far.”

On the blue line, senior defenseman Kyle Schnettler said this year has been one to remember and he’s looking forward to the next few weeks.

 “The team has really come together over the past few weeks and we're really starting to look like a great team,” Schnettler said. “I think overall, we have improved in all aspects of the game, from our forwards, to defense, to our goalies. Everyone is playing their role; it's just great hockey. I would say the highlight of the season would be beating Lake Orion 2-0 at the Onyx (back on Jan. 12). That was a great game and was a special moment for everyone. For the rest of the season, I'm really hoping we play like we have been playing the last several games. We have been playing all three zones very well and hope to stay consistent.”

“My outlook for the rest of the season is very positive,” added Pardonoff. “We have been winning games and finally starting to try our hardest. We want to make a good run and move deep into playoffs.”

The OAA Red Division playoffs start tonight with Oxford playing Stoney Creek in the round one matchup at 5:45 p.m. at Farmington. The state playoffs begin Monday, Feb. 25, with Oxford and Romeo meeting in the first round. That game begins at 6:30 pm at Suburban Macomb.

For more information about the Oxford High School varsity hockey team, visit