Frog Lake T-Birds forward #22 Ryder Prue, mixes it up with a Bandits player during second period action of their game at home Friday night.
There are a lot of new faces in the Frog Lake T-Birds lineup this season, and navigating the right mix of returning players from their finals team with youth will be one of their focuses.
On Friday night they looked big, strong, and fast at home against the Lloydminster Bandits winning 7-4 for their first win of the season, but were handed a 9-2 drubbing by the Killiam Wheat Kings the next day.
“It’s still a learning curve. We’ve got a lot of new guys in our lineup. We’re still trying to develop some chemistry as lines in the third,” said Coach Harvey Smyl.
Friday’s clash with the Bandits didn’t take off until the T-Birds found themselves down 2-1 within a minute of the second period. From there, they tilted the ice and quickly equalized on the powerplay goal by Jamal Daniels and took the lead on Peter Willier’s ridiculous outside-inside rush.
“I think the turning point for me was the point where we got that power play goal,” said Smyl. “We weren’t really getting those good looks, those great chances, and the powerplay we had that nice setup and a nice goal. We seemed to gain some energy and momentum from that time.”
“I liked the line of Morin-Fontaine-and the new kid on the wing [Willier]. His goal put us up 3-2. Big goal for us. But I thought they all really effective for all being newcomers in the league. I thought they had a real good sense of where each other was, played really well as a unit, cycled the puck well, and then executed.”
The T-Birds added to their lead early in the third period with a couple goals by Tobie Opikokew, and a backbreaker from Darwin Morin.
“Last year we had a whole bunch of older people,” said Opikokew. “We probably had like 13 young players coming in for the first time in the league, and so far they’re doing pretty good.”
After this weekend’s contests the T-Birds are 1-2-1 but have played less games than many of their opponents so far.
“We’re a fairly big team. We want to try and have some speed,” said Smyl. “Once we get going we’re good. We want to difficult team to play against, but disciplined. We need to have control. I thought we were really undisciplined in the last minute. That’s certainly something we need to control.”