After losing two of its first three games of the season, the Southlake hockey team has won five of its last six and clawed its way back to a fourth-place seeding in the AT&T Metroplex league Varsity Division.
The Dragons will take on Arlington/Midlothian at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the NYTEX Sports Centre, and coach Knute Anderson said his team will have its work cut out for it.
“Arlington is a dynamite program,” Anderson said. “They have always had strong teams. Midlothian itself was one of the better programs in hockey for a number of years. So you have taken now, two of the stronger programs in the state, and combined them.
“They've got great players that didn't even make varsity that are on the outside looking in. That team is solid with three lines coming at you.”
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Anderson said that while the season got off to a bit of a shaky start for the Dragons, he feels that things are back on track now.
“It's a different lineup almost every night, because we've had some kids in and out, and we've had some kids that we've had to bring up,” Anderson said. “We lost our senior captain to a junior team. But the great thing is that we come back with some amazing leadership this year from our seniors.
“We've got Chris Barrett, who is leading our team offensively and has just been outstanding for us. Griffin McManus and Justin Mitchell have also helped to solidify our leadership and done just an outstanding job of being leaders. Aaron Driggs is also a three-year starter on varsity, and players like him are really where the strength of our team lies right now.”
Southlake’s game with Richardson/Rockwall was canceled due to inclement weather last week, and Anderson said that was especially disappointing for his team.
“We really wanted to play them, because they are playing some really good hockey,” Anderson said. “We always want to test ourselves. We want to finish in the top six and stay in the Gold division, which is what we established last year. Our goal is to finish in the top six and make a run in the playoffs.”
After dropping two of its first three games this season, Anderson said his team changed focuses in order to right the ship.
“We focused defensively, and I think that we are one of the least scored-upon teams in the league,” Anderson said. “The other thing that we have focused on is more discipline. We were ahead in the Allen game 3-1, and we had 16 penalties and Allen had none.
“I've never seen that in a hockey team before, so we really focused on making sure that we did not put ourselves at that type of disadvantage again. It's been kind of a rallying cry for us to be more disciplined, and that's been the difference.”
• The Grapevine/Colleyville Heritage hockey team will take on Highland Park at 8:15 on Thursday at the FB Miller Arena.