The Northeast B.C. & Yukon Trackers are in a tough slump, having lost 10 straight games in the Northern Alberta Midget Hockey League and at least another six losses of Tier 1 tournament action.
As they set out to host the Strathcona Warriors in back-to-back home games this weekend, the Trackers are staying positive and hoping they end 2013 by breaking their slump.
"We want to start the New Year with something more to build on. Last year we beat [Strathcona] but we haven't played them this year," explained Trackers' captain Kohlman Brinsky.
"We're having a positive outlook on things. We know we're playing well. Before we would doubt ourselves, but now we know we're playing well and the coaches are really supportive like they always have been."
Most recently the Trackers lost 5-3 to the St. Albert Crusaders then 3-2 to the PAC Saints last weekend, but in both road games, the Trackers heavily outshot their opponents and were up against some stellar goaltending, as well as some of their own mental lapses.
"We outshot [the Crusaders] that game 54-31, then the Saints 37-21. The games that we played we did dominate but we just had those mental breakdowns for those 10 minutes," Brinsky said. "Luck isn't on our side right now, but we need fewer mental breakdowns. We'll dominate a game then have 10 minutes of a mental breakdown with dumb plays and things that don't go our way, then we'll bounce back.
"Obviously on the scoreboard there's a slump, but everyone has the passion and competitive level," he added. "This past weekend we had three power-play goals, which is a big improvement. Our defensive zone has been improving as well. There isn't really one line going. Each line is creating opportunities to score."
With their recent shift to a more positive mindset, Brinsky is hoping his team's hard work will finally pay off on the ice, preferably this weekend when they play the warriors in front of friends and family in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek.
"I always prefer playing at home. You're in front of your home crowd and you're more comfortable. You've played at that rink a million times," Brinsky said.
"The whole year we've been emphasizing getting ready for playoffs and pushing towards that. We're getting to that point now where we truly are starting to play playoff hockey and getting into that mindset that every game could be a playoff hockey."
Some proof that the Trackers' haven't been playing as poorly as their streak indicates is the fact that scouts from Drayton Valley approached some of their players in Spruce Grove recently, showing interest in them for the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Brinsky says that alone brought a surge to his team's confidence.
"Last weekend in our Spruce Grove game we were exposed to different scouts from different hockey teams and had scouts come talk to some of our players after games. It was good," he said. "Some guys got invites to spring camps in April.
"A big part of this [league] is to get to the next level and keep raising the bar, and Junior A truly is the next level. This is that one step to get there."
Bursting with optimism and ready for some lucky bounces, the Trackers are ready to send off 2013 in style and host the Strathcona Warriors tonight in Fort St. John and Saturday in Dawson Creek.
Tonight's game in Fort St. John starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Pomeroy Sport Centre, while tomorrow's game in Dawson Creek is a matinee game set to start at 1 p.m. at the Memorial Arena.
The Trackers' first game of 2014 will be Jan. 3 in Dawson Creek against the Whitecourt Wolverines.
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