After a 4-3 setback to the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill didn’t mince words in looking ahead to his team’s next test Friday night against the Prince Albert Raiders.
“We have to be desperate,” McGill said Wednesday night. “We’re falling behind here. We’re not going to make the playoffs if we don’t get going.”
With four consecutive losses clouding the Kootenay skies, the Moose Jar Warriors and Raiders continue to gain ground on the sliding Ice, who hold down the second and final wild-card spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference heading into Friday’s action.
The Ice hold a three-point cushion on the Warriors, who have strung together consecutive victories, while the Raiders remain four points back but with a three-game winning streak intact.
Heading the other direction in the standings, the Edmonton Oil Kings have won five of six games, retaking fourth place in the WHL’s Central Division and building a four-point pad ahead of the Ice. Even further up the ladder, the Red Deer Rebels have blasted off five consecutive wins to take over second place, leaving the Calgary Hitmen in third.
When asked what he needed from his players in desperate times, McGill’s response was simple and firm.
“Our best players have to be committed to playing every shift like it’s their last,” said the Ice bench boss.
Forward and leading scorer Jaedon Descheneau is pointless over the team’s four-game skid. Zak Zborosky only has one helper in his last six games. Normally steady defenceman Tyler King has logged a minus-5 rating in his last three contests.
The Raiders hold a 2-0-1-0 edge in the season series heading into Friday night, having won 3-2 at home (Oct. 21) before blanking the Ice in a 5-0 victory at Western Financial Place (Oct. 28).
The lone victory for the Ice came most recently, a 3-2 overtime triumph Dec. 12.
Friday is the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the two Eastern Conference opponents.
After Friday’s contest, the Ice wrap up a three-game Saskatchewan road trip with a meeting against the Saskatoon Blades Saturday night.
Saskatoon has bested the Ice twice so far in 2014-15, the most recent a 6-4 setback Jan. 10. The Blades’ other victory came Oct. 22, a 5-2 victory on home ice.