The Northeast B.C. & Yukon Trackers are feeling a bit of rust in their joints after sitting out from competition for the past couple of weeks.
Their past two weekends of competition had to be cancelled due to snowy conditions both in the area and on the road.
The SISEC Selects from Calgary decided to stay home Nov. 15 and 16, and the Trackers pulled the plug on their plans to compete in a Tier 1 tournament in Prince George last weekend when northern B.C. got snowed in.
"They were pretty bummed and some were pissed off that we cancelled, but again, there was no visibility and the parents made the call and I had to support them. "They're the ones that drive the bus," said Trackers' coach Brennen Giroux from practice on Saturday.
"I wasn't going to put the onus on one parent to have 19 lives in his hands if something went bad, so I made the call, I made the right call," he added. "The Peace got like 40 cm of snow and there were some big accidents, plus they were calling for freezing rain [down the highway] on Sunday."
With two weekends of competition lost, the Trackers are hoping it doesn't affect their games this weekend when they welcome the Peace River Royals to Dawson Creek on Friday then travel to Grande Prairie on Saturday.
"We ran into the same problem last year. We were off two weeks going into playoffs, and you can't really practice that competitive level. There's nothing you can do, it is what it is," Giroux said.
"I have to play it by ear and try to keep it competitive in practice, make sure they're pushing each other," he added. "Hopefully we're more prepared than when we played Peace River a month ago when we got absolutely embarrassed. The guys remember that."
The Trackers are undoubtedly in a slump. They dropped from first to fifth place in the NAMHL's Bear Slashing Division and have lost a number of games in a row.
To try to inspire his team, Giroux has been admittedly hard on the Trackers recently.
"I've been on their throats for a while now. We're 0-6 so I have to do something. It's competitive hockey. I've asked them if I'm too hard on them, and every one of them wants me to be meaner," he said laughing. "They seem to like it because it's like I'm bringing a junior attitude to the team.
"I'm trying the best I can and I'm not too hard on them. I do care about these guys, they're my family."
Knowing they need to pull themselves out of this slump, the Trackers have been working hard in practice and trying to maintain an impartial attitude going into the stretch towards playoffs.
"Our positivity is neutral," Giroux said. "There are no highs and lows, so right now we're just working hard and trying to get prepared for Peace River and Grande Prairie this weekend.
"We're still trying to work things out and work through some troubles, but we'll play it by ear. It's just a game."
The Trackers will host the Peace River Royals on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Kin Arena. The Royals are currently third in the division and sitting at 9-5-0 for the season.
The Trackers will then travel to Grande Prairie on Saturday to face the Storm.