If there was a reason the Northeast BC & Yukon Trackers haven’t had the best season in the Northern Alberta Hockey League, assistant coach Mike MacIsaac would simply sum it up with one word: penalties.
Discipline issues have kept his players in the box and shorthanded on the ice for many games, and the team’s record of 5-10-0 reflects that.
“We tell the boys every game they have to be disciplined,” MacIsaac said on Monday. “It’s the been the story throughout the season and they’re not getting it right now. We tell them all the time, game after game, and this is what’s killing us, the penalties.”
On Sunday, the Trackers gave up five of nine goals on the power play to the Peace River Royals, a record that has to change.
The Trackers lost 9-2.
“I hope they get the message but it takes a lot to win a game,” he added. “You’ve got to be willing to take a hit in the mouth and not retaliate for your team. It’s not there yet but hopefully the boys will get it sooner than later.”
The Royals got 45 shots on the Trackers’ net on Sunday. Halfway through the second after four goals from Peace River, goaltender Michael Chute was pulled and Logan Edwards was sent in to man the fort.
MacIsaac insists the decision to pull Chute had nothing to do with his performance in net.
“They took it to us in the first and they scored two quick ones in the second and I had to shake things up, that’s what it was but it didn’t do anything. It wasn’t goaltending at all. It was penalties,” he said.
“Our goalies have been doing everything they can for us.”
The Royals scored a whopping six goals in the second period to lead 8-1 after 40 minutes. At that point MacIsaac said the goal for his team was simple.
“Then the second came and we got into penalty trouble. That’s what happened. It’s hard to come back after that,” MacIsaac said. “We tried to win the third period and we tied it, so that was okay but the penalties definitely took a toll on us in the second period.”
“We got it handed to us there.”
How he and head coach Brennen Giroux can shake his team out of their discipline problems is unknown to MacIsaac. He insists they’ve tried everything from talks to individual and team discipline, but nothing seems to be working.
“As coaches I don’t know what we can do differently,” he said. “I could yell at them but I don’t know if that’s going to do anything. What they need to do is get the mindset of winning and understand what it takes to win.”
“What more can you do? At some point it’s in the players’ hands.”
The Trackers currently sit in fifth in the North Black Division with 10 points. With one win they can jump to third and this weekend they will kick off a busy pre-Christmas stretch against the North Central Bulls who haven’t won a game this season.
“Hopefully we can beat them,” he said. “They don’t have a great record.”
“I’m hoping to go on a bit of a run before Christmas to get back in the standings.”
With five more games to play before 2013, there’s a possible 10 points up for grabs. MacIsaac is hoping his squad can move past their penalty issues and start racking up some points to make a run.
After all, it’s Christmas – and the Trackers can use some holiday spirit.
“It’s not as bad as it seems,” laughed MacIsaac.