The Port Hope Panthers started their season with some growing pains, beginning  league play with a 2-5-0-2 record.  Entering the season with an overhauled roster, which included 12 PJHL rookies, the Panthers staff knew that patience was to be expected.

“With such a young team, growing pains were to be expected.  As a group, we needed to learn how to lose before we learned to win” explained P.J Michael, Panthers Assistant Coach and a new addition behind the bench this year.  “As a staff, we preached patience with the players, and took on the mindset that the season was a marathon, not a sprint.”

Opening the season with a losses Frankford (6-0, 3-1) , Napanee (2-1 OTL, 8-6), Amherstview (6-1) and Picton (3-2 OTL, 4-1), the Panthers finally found the win column against Frankford on October 22, with a 5-3 win on home ice.

Jacob Spicer, an ex-Panther and another recent addition to the coaching staff, has been encouraged by the attitude and mindset of the players within the dressing room.  “The energy, emotion, and excitement has been there for our guys, the players sometimes just need reminders how to use that energy in a positive way.   As the year opened, we struggled a bit to score and when scored on, had to learn how to pick ourselves back up.  As the season has progressed you can see the shift in mindset, especially for our younger guys.  They are beginning to learn what it takes to compete every night at the junior level.”

With 12 rookie skaters on the roster, lessons are bound to be learned.  Towards the end of October, the Panthers staff began to see a shift in the development of many players within the dressing room, and know that positive game outcomes are more likely as the season advances.

“Building a team is like building a house” explained P.J Michael, “We have one of the strongest foundations in the league with our overagers, and our goaltending tandem is second to none.  We aren’t focused on rushing the development of this house, but are focused on building a strong culture that builds on the rich winning history of the Panthers organization.  We may have a lot of new faces and a lot of rookies to the PJHL in our dressing room, but a lot of them are beginning to show signs of development that exceeds expectations to this point in the season. The structure of the house we are building is solid, and we have high hopes for the coming months”.

The Panthers ended the month of October with a 6-2 win over the visiting Campbellford Rebels, a team the Panthers will now see 9 more times are the season progresses.