Cold Lake Wings Struggling Mightily

Image credit: Cold Lake Wings Facebook page.

It’s tough sledding right now for the Cold Lake Wings.

Real tough.

Midway through the USA vs Canada showdown, the Wings are struggling to keep up. They lost the three games by a total of 24-4. They’re staring down a six-game losing skid and have a pile of injuries like defenseman Dorian Hall.

The team is relying heavily on three forward lines (two of which are getting the majority of ice time) and four defensemen. A couple players, including touted Czech defenseman Pavel Simak, even left the team.

Monday night’s contest against the Bellingham Blazers started well though, as Illias Okemow connected with his long-time teammate Nigel Cardinal to get up, but they got few scoring chances from there, eventually losing 7-1.

“Just our compete-level…. I don’t know if we get too down or what, but it’s going to take compete. It’s a 60 minute game. It’s a matter of winning those 1-on-1 battles, and getting those loose pucks and making plays,” said coach Jonathan Aitken.

“Turnovers on bluelines, offensive bluelines and defensive bluelines weren’t good…the talent level and all is what it is. I’d rather have a team that works hard because if they do that they’ll win more often than not, and I think that’s what we’re a little bit short on right now.”

Bellingham Blazers on top over the Cold Lake Wings tonight from Imperial Oil Place. I'm joined by Coach Johnathan Aitken thanks to Lake City Coach Tim Hortons Cold Lake and Ducharme Motors

Posted by Lakeland Connect on Monday, November 12, 2018

Midway through the game, it was still 2-1, when Wings centre Anson Smith was hauled down by what appeared to be a hook. The referee’s whistle blew and the arm was up signaling a penalty, but it was the Wings who would be shorthanded.

It was called a spear and Aitken was told it happened behind the play. But no seemed to see it, and on the final scoresheet there is no player listed for who the call was against.

The Blazers scored on the ensuing powerplay, and followed it up with a quick one right off a faceoff. That’s when the wheels came off.

“I don’t know, we’re kind of in a slump right now, and the motivation once we get down a couple goals, you can see the bench just drops. It’s a 60 minute game, and these kids gotta learn that things do happen. We’re not creating enough opportunities, and that’s what I’m concerned about,” he said.

Both teams were playing their third game in as many nights – undoubtedly a tough stretch. But Aitken doesn’t buy that as an excuse for how the team played.

“It’s a part of the schedule. It’s a matter of taking care of yourself and getting good rest and getting yourself hydrated and just wanting to play.”

The Wings are into the back half of the USA vs Canada showdown and will play the Seattle Totems twice (Thursday, Saturday) and the West Sound Admirals on Friday.

“We can’t really worry about what they’re going to do. We need to stick to what we’re going to do, stick to our game plan. When we stick to our game plan – good things happen.”

The Wings sit third in the WPHA (2-8-1).

The Edson Aeros appear to be one of the top teams in the league (9-0-1-1) and are ahead by nine points in the standing on the Hinton Wildcasts. They have yet to lose in regulation time and beat both Seattle and West Sound this weekend.

The Hinton Wildcats (6-3-1) are also very competitive and won two of three against those same opponents.

Meanwhile, Meadow Lake is also in tough. Their lone win was against the Wings on home-opener night. In just their last four games, they’ve allowed a total of 53 goals.

One note – the WSHL is on a three point win system which means three points are awarded for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win, one point for an overtime loss, and zero for a regulation loss.

🏒Cold Lake Wings🏒 are down 2-1 to the Bellingham Blazers. Wings #11 Nigel Cardinal but the goal and he joins me thanks to Lake City Coach, Ducharme Motors and Tim Hortons Cold Lake

Posted by Lakeland Connect on Monday, November 12, 2018