The Columbia Valley Rockies are still in search of the end to their current four-game losing streak after a loss to the Kimberley Dynamiters 4-2 in their lone game of the week to start December.
Despite the losing streak though, head coach Wade Dubielewicz said the team is still in high spirts.
“I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “We have to maintain confidence and maintain a belief in each other and this group is actually doing good at that.”
The Rockies’ embarked on a three-game road trip last week, travelling to Kimberley for their only game of the week to face the Dynamiters, who are second in the Eddie Mountain Division. Having faced them only a week earlier and getting trounced 8-2, Dubielewicz said the team made a number of adjustments based on hours of practice during the week in addition to studying game film for the team’s most apparent weaknesses. On Saturday, the on-ice product represented a remarkable improvement.
“We definitely improved throughout the week, but that improvement has to start translating into wins so we can start building some confidence,” he said.
Fighting for a victory in front of a hostile Dynamiters crowd in Kimberley of 626 people, the Rockies claimed the game’s first goal only two and a half minutes into the opening frame. Trading shots equally throughout the first period, though, Kimberley eventually scored a goal of their own to make it 1-1 heading into the second period.
It was then that the Dynamiters began pulling away from the Rockies, despite outshooting them 9-6 in the period. Forward Carter Beston-Will, equally known for his goal scoring abilities as his grit and tenacity on a nightly basis, recorded the Rockies’ second goal of the evening while shorthanded to keep the Rockies in the game and the score tied 2-2 through 40 minutes.
Taking the role of a short-statured pest reminiscent of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, Dubielewicz said that Beston-Will’s play can be enduring on an opposing team’s defence on a nightly basis.
“It sucks, I’ll be honest, it really does,” he said of having to play against Beston-Will. “What probably stands out the most is that he finishes three times more checks than anyone else on our team and probably anyone else in the league. When you’re having that kind of impact on the game and you’re undersized and you play with that competitive edge, you definitely make differences in games.”
“You’ll see like teams get extremely frustrated with him and he ends up playing with a target on his back because he plays the game honestly the right way every single shift.”
Unfortunately for the Rockies, that would be their last offensive effort as the Dynamiters added two more unanswered goals in the final frame to take a decisive victory 4-2. One of the continual areas of concern for the Rockies is their play with a man advantage as they were 0-for-3 on the night.
“You see progress, but it is tough to simulate the intensity of an actual game in practice while your practising special teams,” Dubielewicz said of the team’s play with a man advantage. “I’m confident it will click here shortly, but you can’t pinpoint when. The kids have all the information and the tools they need, now they need a bit of the composure and that comes with reps in practice and games.”
For him, that composure is found in continuing to give his power play unit more reps as the season progresses.
“What you do want is you want to put kids together that are doing the things that you’re asking them to do and keep them together and over time they will start to get a little more comfortable in areas of the ice and make that play rather than maybe turning the puck over,” he said.
The Rockies have a tough slate of three games coming up with away games against the Fernie Ghostriders and Dynamiters on Friday and Saturday nights before returning home to face the Creston Valley Thunder Cats next Tuesday. Dubielewicz said the schedule can be intimidating, but is maintaining the team’s focus on winning Friday’s game first.
“We’re going to prepare for Fernie and we’re going to go over there and try to play hard style hockey,” he said. “To me, if you’re able to get that win, then Saturday is attainable and Tuesday is attainable. I want to win all three and that’s the honest truth.”