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 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 on Friday before travelling to Fort McMurray on Saturday to play the Barons. Their next home game will be Saturday, Jan. 12 against Grande Prairie.