After a couple of losses last weekend, it's clear the Fort St. John Huskies are lacking on the back end.
Anytime you allow more than five goals in two straight games, that should be obvious. For the team's management, it has been for a while.
That's why General Manager Jeremy Clothier went out and got veteran defenceman Jordy Potter last month. He skated with the team for the first time this week and will make his debut on home ice Friday against the Beaverlodge Blades.
Last season, the 20-year-old Potter played top-four minutes with the Blackfalds Warriors in Alberta's Heritage Junior Hockey League. The Warriors finished with a league-best 34-2-2 record and followed that up with a league championship.
Assistant coach Andrew Riddell hopes the 230-pound Red Deer native will bring leadership and a winning attitude to a team that could use an anchor on the back end to compliment to the offence provided so far this season by Jared Barilla.
"He looked very solid out there," Riddell said at the end of practice Tuesday. "(He showed) some great leadership and we're going to be looking forward to him stepping up and picking up some big minutes on the penalty kill."
Potter is also looking forward to it.
"I love killing penalties," he said. "I love playing in the D-zone. I love all aspects of that. Defence is my home. I like to keep the puck out of my net and put it in the other one."
Early losses affecting players mood
Assistant coach Riddell noted after practice this week that his team had been dosplaying a bit of immaturity on the ice.
"A couple of the guys are still trying to figure it out.," he said. "The mood wasn't the greatest out there. It's something that I am glad to see at the start of the season (so) we can work it out instead of in the middle or towards the end walking into the playoffs," he added.
As one of the older teams in the league, the coaching staff is looking to its veterans - including their recent addition - to set the direction for the team each night. That's something the coaching staff has yet to see and it could mean some more roster changes are coming.
"I think there are some guys getting pretty comfortable thinking that this team is completely set (but) we're always looking to improve," Riddell said, "and if some players don't want to be here than they need to step up and speak to us about that. Of course there are going to be egos (but) we're going to play the best players that are skating hard that night whether they are 16 or 21."
It's unclear who he might be talking about, but there can be no doubt the team needs to put a better effort in this weekend, where they'll get a chance to make up for a 6-4 loss by taking on the Grande Prairie JDA Kings in Clairmount for the second straight weekend.
The good news it's early in the year. Confidence will swing up and down as the season progresses, but it's finding that middle ground and a level of consistency that makes a good team a great one.
"There needs to be leadership," Riddell said. "We need to be prepared. As soon as we get to the rink we need to be in a mind set to play hockey. The boys need to understand that we're playing junior (not) minor hockey."