Cougars will be another tough test for struggling Ice

Nowhere to go but up as Kootenay dwells in the cellar of the WHL.

The Kootenay Ice are in an unfamiliar place right now.

Last place, that is.

The club is struggling through a tough start to the season with only one win in five games, and the team will face another tough test on Wednesday night when they face the Prince George Cougars.

The Cougars are 4-1-1-0 and will be hungry to recover from their last contest, a 7-5 loss to the Kelowna Rockets on Saturday night.

On the other hand, Kootenay is hoping to bounce back from a 5-3 loss against the Prince Albert Raiders last Sunday. The Ice had an abysmal start, but showed signs of life later in the game, which highlights one of the main problems facing the team.

Inconsistency.

The Ice gave the Raiders a good run for their money in the latter half of the game, but a flat opening period saw the opposition rack up a three-goal lead.

However, the team pulled it together in the remaining 30 minutes and fought back to trail by one in the final period, before more Kootenay mistakes compounded into a two-goal lead for Prince Albert with three minutes to go.

“Obviously, it’s pretty disappointing, the way we’ve started the season, but we played for 30 minutes against PA, we took it to them, we were dominating them,” said Ice defenceman Jagger Dirk. “We just have to do that for a full 60 [minutes] and we know we can beat any team in this league.”

Ice head coach Ryan McGill bowed out of practice on Tuesday, opting for a seat in the stands as he got a global view of his players, while his two assistants, Chad Kletzel and Jerry Bancks, ran the show.

The players were 45 minutes late stepping out onto the ice, and one can only imagine the conversation McGill was having with the team inside the dressing room.

“He’s there for us,” said Dirk, before practice. “He’s hard on us, because we haven’t been playing well, but he just wants us to get better and wants this team to be better.”

Dirk said he doesn’t believe that the team’s record is a byproduct of a younger roster, noting that it’s up to the older veterans to lead by example.

“We are a younger team, but that’s no excuse,” said Dirk. “Everybody that’s made this team knows what it takes to win and we just haven’t been doing it lately.”