FARMINGTON — A new coach and a new season, and the wins came in a flurry.
Eight games into the 2013-14 campaign, first-year bench boss Bill Newton had his Farmington High hockey team sitting pretty with a 7-1-0 record.
Water has found its level since then for the Falcons, who at press time were 3-3-0 in their last six games.
Injuries have taken a toll.
The schedule has toughened up with the start of Oakland Activities Association Red Division play, and the guys weren’t going to win every single night.
“Win or lose, the key is to be competitive,” Newton said last week, one night after a 4-2 loss to Lake Orion High. “We’re playing some good teams — teams ranked in the top 10. As long as we’re staying competitive, that’s the key.”
During the 3-3 run, the Falcons had a 5-1 loss to Rochester United.
The other loss was a 4-3 setback to Howell High on Dec. 10.
“Even in the (Lake Orion) game, we were right in it, had some power-play chances and then took penalties while on the power play,” Newton explained. “It’s those things we have to work on. More consistent scoring; being more disciplined.”
That’s what happened at the end of last season, when the Falcons struggled at the start but finished the regular season on a 9-2-0 run.
“The goal is to get everything going in the right direction as the season moves on,” Newton said. “The goaltending has been solid. It’s a matter of getting the confidence back to where it needs to be. We have to be hitting on all cylinders.”
Newton said he’s still adjusting to his first year as head coach, although he feels like it’s been a smooth transition after so many years as an assistant.
He also knows, as the playoffs approach, the schedule will be a little more forgiving compared to the host of Division 1 teams the Falcons are playing right now.
For the first time in years, Farmington will be in the D-3 bracket for the postseason.
“Division 1 is a different animal,” Newton said with a laugh.
He remains confident, in himself and in his guys.
“These kids are receptive to coaching, and they want to be successful,” Newton said. “The effort has been excellent. Now, it’s just about getting back on track and figuring out what we have to.”