By ending 2012 on a positive note, the Northeast B.C. & Yukon Midget Trackers are
hoping to carry their three-game win streak in December into 2013 as they hit the
road again this weekend.
After facing a frustrating first half of the season, the Trackers finally found their
groove and their puck luck and are playing at the capacity coach Brennen Giroux
always knew they had.
“I wasn’t worried. I didn’t hit the panic button at all,” Giroux said on Wednesday.
“We were happy that we were losing at that time of the season and learning things
about each other and what kind of team they are.”
“I think it’s starting to come around and hopefully we can continue our success
coming into playoffs in this last stretch here.”
Giroux said the Trackers’ Edmonton road trip in mid-December was the turning
point for the team, as they decided to put the seriousness of the game on the back
burner and learn to have a little fun.
“The road trip, when we went to Edmonton the week before, we stepped back and
had a bit of fun in terms of some pranking. It was just a good road trip to bring
fun back to the game and that did wonders,” he said. “We almost did 3-and-0 that
weekend but we fell short against Leduc.”
“The morale has done a complete 180 from the beginning of December,” Giroux
added. “It’s a completely a different team on and off the ice and in the dressing
room. The guys are a lot more excited and ready to go and not so critical about
themselves or on each other.”
The team’s morale change showed in their last few games of the year, as the
Trackers won all three final games of the month to head into their Christmas break.
Those wins also moved the Trackers into third place in their North Black Division,
which Giroux says is the best-case-situation heading into playoffs. The third-place
team avoids playing first or second place, and has a better opportunity to advance to
the second round.
“I would rather be in the third-place spot going into playoffs, then if we win we’re
ready to go against the top two teams and maybe have a little bit more of an
advantage on our side, just not home-ice advantage,” Giroux explained.
The Trackers will face the Fort McMurray Barons this weekend, the fourth-place
team in their division, and Giroux is hoping for a couple points to widen the gap
between the two teams.
“I expect another good weekend in terms of team bonding, but hopefully we can go
for our fourth win in a row and hopefully put ourselves in a better spot and really
capitalize on that third position after that position, putting some room between us
and Fort Mac for home-ice advantage in first round,” he said.
“I’m expecting our team to keep on rolling. Hopefully what we built up at the end
of 2012 will continue in terms of staying up on each other and being positive, not
taking the game so seriously.”
The Trackers will face the Sturgeon Mustangs today before travelling to Fort
McMurray on Saturday to play the Barons. Their next home game is Saturday, Jan.
12 against Grande Prairie.