A 1-3-1 start isn't what Shenendehowa hockey fans have come to expect in recent years, but it's part of a new reality for the Plainsmen.
With the graduation of 11 seniors from last year's Section II, Division I championship squad, Shen is in the rare position of rebuilding.
We have a good group of upperclassmen, but they played under a really good group of seniors last year, said Shen coach Juan de la Rocha.
The Plainsmen's early season schedule hasn't helped them. They've played several of New York's traditional powers including Ithaca, Auburn, Williamsville North and Canisius (Buffalo).
"We've had a pretty rough schedule to start the season," said de la Rocha.
What should give Shen fans hope is that the Plainsmen are rising to the occasion, even if the wins haven't been there. They fought Ithaca to a 1-1 tie Nov. 28, defeated McQuaid (Rochester) 4-1 last Friday and battled Canisius before falling 4-3 last Saturday.
"Last weekend was a big step for us," said de la Rocha. "Those are two very good teams (McQuaid and Canisius), and we played very well."
The few veterans Shen has on offense " nine forwards graduated from last year " led the Plainsmen in last weekend's action. Alec Pacheco scored two goals and added an assist in the victory over McQuaid, and A.J. Mangino tallied twice in the loss to Canisius.
Still, Shen will need its younger players to contribute in order to win its seventh consecutive Sectional title.
"We're top dog (in Section II) because of what we've done in the past, but we're not who we were before," said de la Rocha. "It's always our goal to win the Section without a doubt, but at no point do we look past our league competition."
There are plenty of teams in the Capital District High School Hockey League that will challenge Shen this year, according to de la Rocha.