There are just two games left for the Northeast BC and Yukon Trackers to get into playoff mode as the Midget ‘AA’ regional squad finishes their season on home ice this weekend versus the Camrose Vikings.
After falling 4-0 to the Grande Prairie Storm and 6-1 to the Peace River Royals last weekend, Trackers head coach Brennen Giroux says things have to change in the next two games if the Trackers want to get past the divisional playoff rounds.
“I’m putting the pressure on the guys [this weekend] so that they’re ready,” said Giroux on Wednesday. “There is a minute left – so to speak – and the pressure is on.”
“Time and time again … the guys just get mentally unfocused,” he remarked. “We are seeing that in games with little things, such as chipping it in, getting it out of our own end, or dumping the puck on a penalty kill or driving the net.”
Before facing the Storm and Royals on the road, Giroux wanted to see how his squad stacked up against their division rivals.
Despite missing several key players due to minor injuries and only rotating two lines, Giroux anticipated a better effort down the stretch.
“I was still expecting a little more push or urgency, because the clock is ticking,” said Giroux. “It’s a good thing that we have time to get that playoff atmosphere going inside the dressing room because in the game against Grande Prairie they were all over us.”
Grande Prairie outshot the Trackers 50-32, peppering goaltender Michael Chute at every turn. In fact, it wasn’t until the third period that the Storm were able to solve Chute, who allowed three goals in the third and one in the second.
Against Peace River, it was much of the same but Logan Edwards was between the pipes. He also faced 50 shots, while the Royals held the Trackers to 22 shots.
“Chutey held us in the game against Grande Prairie to give us a chance to win,” noted Goroux. “[Edwards] it wasn’t his fault. It was the five guys in front of him on the ice and the guys watching from the bench.”
“Eddy and Chutey really played an outstanding weekend. When it comes down to it they are our last defence. We’ll lean on them right now and hopefully the guys rally around them because they are giving us a chance to win right now.”
The Vikings and Trackers face off on Friday in Taylor before meeting again in Dawson Creek on Saturday at Memorial Arena.
The Northern Alberta Midget Hockey League postseason begins the following week with the division quarterfinals getting underway Feb. 19.