Robbinsdale Cooper senior forward JJ Cruikshank can sense something different in the Hawks this season.
"Everyone on the team is more serious," Cruikshank said. "Especially now that we have just a few games left."
Robbinsdale Cooper started the week 11-10 but players believe they can finish strong and build momentum for the playoffs.
The Hawks posted a 2-2 record in previous meetings against the four teams remaining on the schedule, including a 2-1 loss.
"We know we can beat these teams coming up and we want to because we haven't been above .500 in awhile," Cruikshank said.
For Cruikshank, motivation comes in many forms.
A broken leg – which he played on for two games – diminished his junior season.
Determined to come back strong this season, he has scored 22 goals through the first 21 games. And his focus on a strong stretch run has led to him scoring at least one goal in the past six games.
Cruikshank also played a big role in Cooper's signature victory against Armstrong without scoring a goal.
"JJ played the last two minutes of that game," Cooper coach Bill Rooney said. "When it was over he just closed is eyes and had this, 'We did it,' look on his face.
"He's a leader for us."