Times may be tough for the Kootenay Ice, but no one is moping about their recent record, which includes seven straight losses.
Defenceman Joey Leach said no one likes to lose, but pointed out that a couple games came close to ending in Kootenay’s favour.
“You can think if you get a bounce here or there, or if you do one more simple thing, you can get that win,” Leach said.
“…We just got to stay positive, make sure everyone’s heads are still in it and keep a positive attitude.”
They will bring those good vibes to Western Financial Place this Saturday night, where they face the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Warriors have had struggles of their own, dropping their last six games. However, two of those games went to overtime, while another pair were decided in shoot-outs.
Kootenay’s record of seven straight losses hides the fact that the Ice have played some very close games. Last Sunday’s result was decided in the last ten minutes, when Medicine Hat scored halfway through the third period to break a 1-1 tie. Despite putting nearly double the shots on goal against the Blades, the Ice lost 3-2 in overtime last Friday.
Ice head coach Ryan McGill hopes that hard work and an emphasis on the basics in practice translates into improvements on the scoresheet.
“You got to continue to get better at all the fundamentals. Passing, shooting—you have to be real good in your decision making and communication,” McGill said.
“You go through everything and make sure that it’s consistent, and if they can be consistent, then they have to apply that to games, and inside games, their consistency will show through.”
One thing McGill has been waiting for is his players to rise up and take on leadership roles in game situations, which means developing that consistency.
“I think that’s a good sign of leadership, is when every individual is ready to play within the confines of their game,” said McGill, “and then that, in turn, provides leadership, and that’s what we’re looking for on the ice more than anything.”
The Ice have some new blood on the roster with the addition of Zach McPhee and Austin Vetterl last week, as Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth made some deals to compensate for mounting injuries and the departure of Czerwonka.
McPhee arrived via the Everett Silvertips in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, while Chynoweth sent two 17-year-old prospects to Vancouver for Vetterl.
McPhee, a large 6’4” presence out on the ice, got on the scoresheet during his first game with the Ice, adding an assist to Jordyn Boyd’s opening goal against the Blades a week ago.
“Obviously last weekend was a bit of a feeling-out process for me,” said McPhee. “Coming in, I had only one practice, which was pretty much all powerplay, but now I feel more comfortable with what they’re trying to teach here.”
Leach said a triple header is pretty intense way to get introduced to a new team with different personalities and systems, but added that the two seemed to fit right in.
“They got in three games in three nights with us right off the bat, so no better way to learn than getting thrown into the fire,” said Leach.
McGill noted that it’s always tough getting traded and that there’s usually an adjustment period for the new guys as they get used to new teammates and learn new systems.
“I think this week in practice was good for them to understand where we need to go as a group and what they need to be responsible for,” said McGill.
The Ice have had the week off, and will benefit from the return of Collin Shirley, who has been day-to-day with an upper body injury. Erik Benoit will be out day-to-day with a lower body injury and Luke Philp is out indefinitely while recovering from his appendix removal.