After a busy slate of games over winter break, the men’s hockey team picked up its first win of the season this past weekend over Conn. College by a score of 5-2. Following the victory, the Cardinals’ record stands at 1-8-7, with a 1-3-5 record in NESCAC play. The two points over the Camels preceded a 4-1 loss to Tufts on the following day.
The real tragic loss, however, occurred after the contest on Saturday, when the Redbirds were informed that their Assistant Coach Jim Langlois passed away. This season was Langlois’s 35th behind the boards at Spurrier-Snyder Ice Rink. He began in 1980, serving as the women’s coach from 1980-1984 before joining the men’s team.
Junior Captain Robby Harbison ’17 reflected upon the passing of Langlois.
“Coach Langlois was an amazing hockey coach, but more importantly, a truly incredible person,” he said. “He dedicated over 30 years of his life to Wesleyan Hockey and the Wesleyan community, and, during his tenure, positively impacted the lives of countless young men and women. He wholeheartedly loved the game of hockey, and his love was evident in his contagious excitement and passion he brought with him to the rink each day. Coach Langlois will be deeply missed by his fellow coaches and current athletes, as well as all of his former players, and everyone else blessed with his presence. We send our deepest condolences to his beloved wife and his loved ones.”
Clearly, Langlois was treasured by his players, and will be dearly missed.
While most students on campus were studying for finals and enjoying the winter break, the team was busy playing a whopping twelve games.
Following their tie at Stonehill College on Nov. 29, the Cardinals earned one point each against Amherst, Middlebury, Bowdoin, and Colby, while suffering defeats to Hamilton, Williams, Elmira College, Hobart College, Norwich University, Manhattanville College (in overtime), and Tufts.
Despite a single win, the team’s seven draws have them currently in seventh place in the NESCAC, ahead of Tufts, Colby and Conn College.
Harbison analyzed the team’s performance so far this campaign.
“We have experienced huge strides in many aspects of our game, mainly on the defensive side of the puck,” he said. “This has helped us stay competitive in every single one of our NESCAC games this year. At this point in the season, we would like to see a few more tallies in the win column, but the six conference ties that we have is a reflection of how close we are to being a very successful team. A few tweaks here and there to our approach to games, both mentally and physically, will make such a big difference in the last third of this season. I truly believe our hard work and relentless focus is going to pay off in the final part of this season, and we will enter the playoffs in a good spot. The NESCAC is always such a tight conference, and as we continue on the trend that we are on, we will be a dangerous team to play in the postseason.”
While ties have kept the team afloat so far this year, a few additional wins would surely boost their position for postseason seeding.
On whether or not he thought the team was playing up to its full potential, Harbison offered the following thoughts.
“The group of guys we have this year is undoubtedly the closest hockey team I have been on during my time at Wesleyan,” he said. “There is such a strong connection between loving each other off the ice and working tirelessly to achieve a goal while on the ice, and I think our team is a great example of that. Even though it is a bit late in the year, we are still trying to figure out the proper offensive line combinations and defensive pairs, and once guys start to feel more comfortable with the men they are playing with, success is inevitable. I am excited to see how the rest of the year unfolds as we continue to experience more success.”
Finally, Harbison reflected upon his role as a leader on the team – something that will become even more important in the wake of the passing of Langlois.
“As a junior captain on the team, the players, especially the underclassmen, look to the other captains and myself as a role model, a source for leadership, and a motivator,” he said. “I have never been the most vocal leader, and I understand that and leave that for some of the other guys, but I go to the gym and rink every day with excitement and a desire for self-improvement. I am not the most talented guy on the ice, but I will always try and work the hardest, and I think leading by example has been a positive influence on the younger players. Hard work is embedded into the culture of our team, and that begins with the leaders and trickles down all the way to our first-years.”
As they continue their push toward the playoffs, the squad will have Coach Langlois in their hearts. The future of their season, which resumes this weekend with home games against Amherst and Hamilton, is still in their hands.