The Dawson Creek Senior Canucks split their home-and-home weekend against the Grande Prairie Athletics and Manning Comets on Friday and Saturday, when they lost to the A's 6-3, but beat the Comets 9-4.
Both visiting teams lead their respective West and East Divisions in the North Peace Hockey League, but despite Sr. Canucks big win on Saturday, head coach Duncan Redfearn wasn't too impressed with the team's Friday performance against the short-benched A's.
"We were pretty disappointed after our game Friday against Grande Prairie," he said. "They had a short bench and we were unable to capitalize on that. I think maybe we got trapped a bit in our minds thinking that because they had a short bench it was going to be easy and we weren't going to have to work hard.
"They jumped out to a pretty good lead in the first period and we didn't really recover after that. We tied the second and third periods but the first is really what killed us."
The A's were up 4-1 after the first period and Mike Lalonde had the only goal for the Canucks. In the second Lalonde got another, as well as Jeff Taylor, but Grande Prairie got two more goals to go up 6-3. The third period was scoreless, and the game ended 6-3 with the A's outshooting the Canucks 48-46.
"The killer on Friday was odd-man rushes," Redfearn said. "We turned the puck over a number of times on their blue line and we had guys caught. That resulted in a number of odd-man rushes for Grande Prairie, and they're a solid team so they capitalized on them.
"We shut down their power play, they didn't get any power-play goals, so we're going to build off that. The last time we played them they scored two or three, something like 75 per cent of their power plays," he added. "Defensively for the most part we were strong and able to keep them to the outside, it was just the mental breakdowns in the neutral zone and in that danger area within their blue line that really cost us."
The Canucks went into Saturday's game against Manning determined to get two points out of the weekend.
"After Friday's game we kind of said, 'Okay that one's over. Let's not dwell on it and let's take out of it what we can, the things we need to work on and focus on and the things we did well,' and the guys came to Saturday's game with a different approach," Redfearn said.
"We played a very strong first period. It was 2-0 after the first and we outshot them 23-10. They had three full lines and an extra forward so they almost had their full bench, and I thought we played really well."
The Canucks really opened up scoring in the second, adding five more goals to go up 8-1 after 40 minutes, which meant the Comets had a short amount of time to score eight goals of their own.
"Our second period really opened up. We had a couple bounces early in that period and it really put the game out of reach for them," Redfearn said, adding that the team backed off a bit in the third but still managed the 9-4 win.
"It was a good game," he added. "We got to roll four lines and use lots of guys in different situations that maybe they wouldn't normally get to try, so it worked out well."
The Canucks' next game will give them another chance to get some points out of the A's, as they travel to Grande Prairie on Thursday night.
Hoping to contain the A's odd-man rushes and play man-to-man coverage, the Canucks will try to get their first win out of the A's before heading to Fort St. John to play the Flyers on Saturday.
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