WINCHESTER – Despite their poor record, the Winchester Hawks have been using the 2017-2018 season to develop players for the future.

Sitting at the bottom of the Martin Division in the CCHL Tier 2, the Hawks (9-23-1) now look to put themselves in a good position for success next season.

“It has been a disappointing season overall so far with our record,” Hawks head coach Bob Gould said. “But on the developmental side of things, we are heading in the right direction.”

The Hawks started the season with a roster full of new names to the team, having only three defenceman and a goalie returning from the previous year.

The Hawks also welcomed Gould and assistant coach Derek Froats as newcomers to the team’s bench

While winning a championship is always the goal, Gould said the rest of this season will be used to finish strong as a team.

“It is always your goal to make the playoffs and compete for a championship, which is not going to happen after our dreadful start,” he said. “Looking at our program now and where we are, I am positive that we can build on this and finish strong and look toward the future with competitive years to come.”

While the standings may not reflect success for the Hawks, Gould believes the team does have some positive things going for them.

“The biggest and definite strength of our team has been their work ethic and commitment to the team as they never quit,” he said. “We have a great dressing room, which is not always easy for a team with our record, especially in junior hockey.”

Looking at the weaknesses of the team, Gould pointed to the roster’s unfamiliarity with CCHL Tier 2 hockey.

“The age and inexperience of our team to junior hockey has been one of our setbacks, including not being able to play a full 60-minute game, but that has been changing,” he said.

Over the team’s last 14 games, they have a record above .500. The Hawks also have defeated teams well ahead of them in the standings, including a recent 3-1 victory over the second place Ottawa Canadians.

As the team heads into the remainder of their season, Gould said the improvements made by players are just as important as wins and losses.

“I can confidently say that every player on our team is better as a hockey player and as a person since the season started,” he said. “It has been a challenge at times but with a wonderful group of guys and a good staff, I just want to see us represent the Hawks logo with pride every day.”