For a program that's only 5 years old and plays with teams that have been around since the '80s, it would make sense that Auburn's hockey team goes through some rough patches at times. However, after a lopsided 29-0 loss against Arkansas, the team's status is at an all-time low.
"This is the first year it's been this bad," said junior forward Sonny MacCurrach. "Right now, we're just trying to hold onto the club, but with a 29-0 loss like that, it's hard to keep players involved. If we start forfeiting games we could even get kicked out of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA)."
While Arkansas is a perennial powerhouse in the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC, a division of the ACHA) and Auburn brought 11 of a maximum 21 players to the game, it's still a rare final score for a hockey game. It's hard to stop other teams from scoring when a team doesn't have an experienced goalie on its roster.
One of the most important positions in hockey is absent on Auburn's team, which has caused a ripple effect from guys losing interest in playing to the team potentially being disbanded.
"It took us by surprise," said assistant coach Mike Robinson. "We were coming into the season with a possible four goaltenders. We felt we would be OK, and then the numbers started to dwindle a little bit. Either guys didn't want to play or couldn't because of time restraints."
Without a goalie, it has been difficult for Robinson and head coach Marcel Richard to assess how the team is as a unit.
The team has had to bring in different goaltenders in practice to help out, with Robinson himself having to dress out at times.
As for the actual games, the team has a forward put on goalie gear and hope for the best, producing less than desirable results.
"Goalie is essentially the quarterback of the team," MacCurrach said. "You can't just learn on the fly, as even players who have played other positions fail miserably when put in the goalie position. It's like the keystone of the whole team. If you don't have that, then everything's going to just come crumbling down."
In order for the team to stay ACHA eligible, a student had to dress as a goalie to keep Auburn available for rankings and postseason play. It became evident after losing the first two games and having to forfeit another that the team wasn't going to be competing for any of that, so they decided to go non-ACHA this season, which would allow them to put a non-student in net.
"According to the University, however, we need to be either have a student or staff as a goaltender," Robinson said. "We would prefer a student, but right now we are going with me in net."
Robinson said he fully expects Auburn's hockey team to be back in the ACHA next year, but for right now the search is on for a goalie that can commit to the team.
"Contacting myself or Mike Robinson would be a good bet if you were interested in joining the team," Richard said. "They have to have at least some type of hockey experience, since goaltending is a lot tougher than people realize. If we can get a goalie things could turn around quickly though, and if everything is in place we could beat a lot of teams in our conference."
Potential goalies can contact the team on their Facebook page or in Room 204 of the Student Activities Center.
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