It’s a long season. And two miles can’t finish a marathon.
Those idioms are true of almost every hockey season, and many sports seasons in general. For the Northeast B.C. & Yukon Midget Trackers, the marathon got started on the weekend and the Trackers may have got out ahead of the pack with two wins to kick off the campaign.
Head coach Shawn Brinsky was pleased with the execution of the game plan for his club that picked up a 5-3 win on Saturday and continued their winning ways on Sunday with a 7-4 victory, both against the Big Lake Thunder in Slave Lake.
“There’s nothing like getting your season started with a couple wins in the column. More importantly it gives you the confidence you need to start moving forward,” he said. “What we did do is draw up and talk about our strategy before the weekend and the players were able to go out and execute, pretty much on par with what we discussed and that was nice to see.”
With his team coming out and meeting expectations so quickly after just two games, Brinsky wants to make sure his group doesn’t read too much into starting the long season off in such a strong fashion.
“The first thing we need to do is not get ahead of ourselves, those were two games against one team that is probably in the same situation as we are— trying to assimilate a bunch of players to work as a unit,” he said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, we don’t want to start reading our press clippings. It was a starting point and we know as the weeks progress we are going to have greater challenges.”
Despite the challenges ahead, the head coach was happy with the high pace of play in which his team played, one that had been stressed from training camp on and was reached in both games.
“The speed that we identified came forward. We definitely lived up to the skating skill that we had hoped to accumulate. There was no doubt when we applied ourselves in that regard and we were able to dominate for periods of time,” Brinsky said. “We also hoped we would be able to assimilate some players that would keep the game simple but at a skilled level, and again that’s what we were able to do. Scoring came to us in ways that we didn’t see last year.”
In game one that scoring didn’t start until the second frame, after the Trackers surrendered a first period goal. The Trackers managed to pull ahead in the second with goals from Kohlman Brinsky and Levi Johnson. Two more goals by Kole Comin and Dustin Bahm respectively put the Trackers ahead for good before Jacob Lang added an empty net goal with three seconds remaining.
On Sunday, the Trackers jumped quickly ahead scoring four goals in the opening period, with four different players getting on the score sheet. Mathew Apsassin, Nolan Legace, Tyler Krane and Jack Bilsner were the goal scorers. Apsassin added another in the second along with Lang, and Comin finished things off in the third with an empty net goal.
Going forward the Trackers will take on a strong Grand Prairie team that will once again test where the Trackers measure up against the top teams in the Northern Alberta Midget AA Hockey League.
“Next weekend will definitely be one of those [challenges], watching them play in the Icebreaker tournament they appear to be a big, fast and skilled team. It’s going to be a challenge but we are going to have some time to prepare for that. Likewise so will Grande Prairie,” Brinsky said.
After the Trackers travel to Grande Prairie on Sunday, they still will have to wait a few weeks for their home opener on October 25 against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.