The Cold Lake Ice come off two upsetting loses the last weekend to face the number one team in the Jr B, the Wainwright Bison, tonight. The Bison have yet to suffer a loss, and mirror the success the Ice had had the past five seasons. Now the Cold Lake team are riding middle of the pack, 6th out of 10 in the standings. Head Coach Scott Hood says the team is “trying to find our identify.”
It’s been up and down the past month, says Hood, “we seen some progress, then all of a sudden this past weekend, it’s not what we’re working for.” Hood has preached hard work to the squad since he took the lead on the team, “we have to work hard or teams are going to out work us.”
“We should’ve won those games,” the Ice suffered a double overtime loss to the Onion lake Border Chiefs on Friday, 8-7 final, then a 3-2 upset to the Vermilion Tigers. “If you work at all against these teams, you’d be fine.”
The Ice have come accustomed to just showing up and being the most skilled team in the league, says Hood, “in the past, these guys didn’t have to work as hard, cuz they all had skill. They had three lines of skill. Now we have one and a half lines of skill and the other one and half, they gotta work hard. They’re still skilled in a different way, but we gotta battle through and decide what we gotta do.”
Hood says the squad has been hitting the ice practicing, working on battle drills and defensive zones on Tuesday and last night the team ran through power plays and penalty kills. “It’s getting through to these guys that we have to work every night,” is the biggest struggle says Hood. “We’re working hard in practice.”
“Every game in our league is going to be tough, every night. We’re going to have to step up to plate or we’ll be sitting in 9th or 10th looking up at everyone. I don’t think that’s the team we are, but if the guys aren’t going to work hard, then we’ll have to figure something out to find some guys that want to play for us,” states Coach Hood.
The team is coming off a legacy, five consecutive league champions, and is now experiencing the negative side of winning so much; complacency. “They think they can show up and the other teams will roll over because they’re the Cold Lake Ice. Years past the teams didn’t roll over, it was just the Ice were so much better. Jr B teams are doing a lot of recruiting and trying to find guys to make their teams so much better,” Hood says the Ice set the standard for the league and the other teams are now catching up with skilled players. “Cold Lake’s been the standard, and other teams want to get to that standard and now we’re seeing that. We have to play to that level as well.”
Hood is excited to travel to Wainwright, saying the anonymity of someone else’s rink can be beneficial. The biggest element the squad needs to work on is discipline, says Hood, “Wainwright’s a good team, if you give them 15 powerplays, they’re going to score seven of them.” The Ice is averaging a lot of penalties per game, 15 of them on Saturday versus Vermilion, one benefit to being in the box, jokes Hood, “our penalty kill is doing excellent, since they’ve had so much practice.” The penalties the teams been taken, explains Hood are “stupid ones.”
If the discipline’s there and the work’s there, Hood says the Ice can take tonight’s game, “every team’s beatable in this league. Wainwright had some close games at the beginning of the year. I’m excited going in, we could be the first team to knock them off and everybody can say, ‘ok, Cold Lake’s back’. Give our guys some confidence going forward.”
Tonight’s matchup in Wainwright, then the team will be back Wednesday night at Imperial Oil Place to take on Saddle Lake at 8:00 pm.