The Junior Canucks enter North West Junior Hockey League action this weekend with favourable matchups, leaving the door open for them to earn some valuable points in the standings.
“This weekend is a big one, we have two games that are definitely winnable,” said Canucks’ head coach Eric Fulton following Dawson Creek’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Slave Lake Wolves on Saturday at Memorial Arena.
The Canucks welcome the Beaverlodge Blades to town Friday, and face the Fairview Flyers in a rare Sunday matinee. Both teams trail the Canucks in the standings, but as Fulton points out, Dawson Creek can’t afford to play at their opponents level.
In their previous meeting with last-place Beaverlodge (4-16-0-0) on Nov. 24, the Canucks gave up three-unanswered goals in the first period en route to a 6-5 loss.
“That loss we played one period of the game, and when we played one period they never touched the puck,” stated Fulton, whose team outscored the Blades 5-3 in the final forty minutes and outshot them 36-33.
“We obviously have to come out and not take for granted that they are lower than us in the standings,” Fulton said about facing the Blades on Friday.
Fulton noted that despite going 1-for-3 last week, the Canucks ended their four-game stretch “playing good hockey” but have to win battles around the net against the Blades and Flyers.
“We aren’t burying pucks, we have to be tougher around their net,” said Fulton. “We are being good around our own net by moving players, but we just have to get a little tougher in front of their zone around the crease, and start banging in some pucks.”
“We don’t try to change our system; we don’t want any hockey club to dictate the way we play,” said Fulton when asked if he’d be making any adjustments for the Canucks’ rematch with the Blades. “We want to dictate our game all the time. If they (Canucks) play the way we ask them to against any team, we’ll be competitive and we’ll be successful against most teams.”
Four points this weekend would help the Canucks possibly regain some ground on Slave Lake who moved into the third spot of the NWJHL standings with 11 wins and 22 points following their win over Dawson Creek, who dropped to 9-10-0-0.
Against Fairview, who are in fifth spot behind Dawson Creek, the Canucks have split the season series thus far with a win and loss.
Fairview won the last meeting 4-2 on Nov. 10 on the Canucks’ home rink.
The Canucks and Blades hit the Memorial Arena ice at 8:30 p.m. on Friday. The Flyers game gets underway at 2:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon.