The Dawson Creek Senior Canucks enter their home-opener Thursday night against Spirit River with a ton of confidence following a win over league powerhouse Grande Prairie.
“We’re coming off two good games and we want to feed off that, compete hard, and come out with another win,” said Sr. Canucks’ captain Adam Loncan whose team earned a 3-2 shootout win over the Grande Prairie Athletics last Friday in Grande Prairie.
“With them being in the finals last year, and being one of the top contenders in the league, it was a huge victory for us and definitely gives us a lot of confidence coming into our home game,” said Loncan.
The Canucks started the season with a 5-4 overtime loss to Fort St. John in late October, and rebounded with the win over the Athletics to improve to 1-1 on the season; but Loncan knows the Canucks have to be stronger defensively if they are to compete with the league’s best.
Grande Prairie, which leads the North Peace Hockey League with three wins, outshot Dawson Creek 52-25, scoring twice in the third period to force overtime, before Canuck’s forward Jeff Taylor scored the game-winning shootout goal in the fifth round of shooters.
“If you’re going to face that many shots your defence has to be that much better, and then your offence has to chip in,” said Loncan. “We can’t give up that many shots against Spirit River, or any team. Out defence definitely has to tighten up.”
Loncan said the Sr. Canucks are expecting a physical battle versus the Spirit River Rangers.
“They are going to come out and try to set the tone early and use the body to try and set the tone that way,” said Loncan, who noted that Spirit River tries to punish teams every time they step on the ice.
“We just have to stick to our game plans, not worry about who we are playing against just worry about what we are going to do as a team. We’ll just have to take the hits and keep our feet moving, hopefully we can get the offence going and keep our defence strong and tight,” he added.
Loncan would be pleased to start the season 2-1 as he feels the Canucks’ first three matchups will have been against top NPHL contenders.
“Coming into the season we knew that our first three games were going to be against the top three teams in the league,” he said. “It’s only the start of the year, for the most part we are pretty happy with the way things have gone so far and hopefully they get better.”
The meeting with Spirit River is a rematch of the West Division semi-final when the Rangers eliminated the Canucks with a 5-4 overtime victory at Memorial Arena to end the best-of-seven series in six games.
“The last time we met was in Dawson when they beat us in the playoffs, so hopefully this time around we have a better outcome. It’s in our minds, but we don’t want to totally focus on that,” said Loncan when asked if the team is out for redemption.
During their three November home games, the Canucks are asking for the fans help in supporting the team’s Movember campaign to help raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer research and men’s health. The players are doing their part by sporting their best Lanny McDonald impersonation; meanwhile, the team is asking fans to make a contribution to the cause. A Movember donation box will be available at the door of every home game this month.
The Rangers and Canucks take to the ice Nov. 15 at Memorial Arena. Puck drops at 8:30 p.m. The Canucks have back-to-back home games the following weekend as the Hythe Mustangs roll into town Friday, Nov. 23, and the Valleyview Jets visit Memorial Arena Saturday, Nov. 24. Both games begin at 8:30 p.m.