By WESLEY REMMER
With four games remaining in the regular season, the Puget Sound Tomahawks hockey team is staggering to the finish line, depleted by a slew of injuries and late-season trades.
“We’re so short right now, we’re really hurting,” said coach Chadd Olson, who admits his roster is too thin to win games on a consistent basis. “We only have 12 or 13 guys right now.”
The T-Hawks recently lost two key players to trade — defenseman Al Creigh (to Tri-City) and forward Aaron Morris (to Eugene) — and the fallout has been evident in the team’s past four games, all losses.
It’s been a transitional year for the Tommies (14-30) as first-year coach Olson inherited a team with only three returning players.
“We had over 20 new guys come in this year,” Olson said of his squad, which has struggled all season searching for a team identity.
While the playoffs are out of reach this season, Olson is confident his team will compete for a postseason berth next year.
“The goal next year is definitely to make the playoffs and see how far we can go,” he said. “Next year we’ll have some veterans and guys returning who know what is expected, which will help a lot.”
The Tommies will lose five players because of age restrictions for the 2008-09 season — the Northern Pacific Hockey League (NorPac) requires players to be younger than 21 — but Olson says the holes can be filled.
“We’re losing our top goalie, Cameron Clemenson, which hurts, but other than him and a few others, we’ve got pretty much everyone coming back,” he said.
Olson knows experience and savvy are what it will take to get the Tommies back to the playoffs.
“The playoffs are a whole different ball game,” he said.
The Tommies travelled to Tri-City Thursday and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho last night, and finish their season at home with back-to-back games against River City Feb. 22 and 23.