Lakers focused on defence during tough season
Robert Dirk can only laugh when it comes to the state of his hockey team.
The Penticton Lakers, mired in a four-game losing skid in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, lost Cam Rout and Ryan Carson to concussions during 5-0 defeats to the Kelowna Chiefs and 4-2 to the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. They also lost goaltender Joel Wilson Dec. 29 for the season after he popped his shoulder reaching for a puck in a 7-2 loss to the Osoyoos Coyotes.
“Honestly, it’s one of those years. I have never seen anything like this,” said the Lakers coach. “Every game we get somebody hurt.”
The Lakers, 8-27-1-2, have yet to play a game with their regular roster. They trail the Summerland Steam by 18 points for the final playoff spot in the Okanagan Division with 14 games remaining.
“Sunday, could have, should have won the hockey game,” he said of the loss to the Thunder Cats. “Had a 2-0 lead with about five minutes to go in the second and self-destructed with some bad penalties. Give Creston credit, they capitalized.”
The Lakers next game is against the Kamloops Storm.
However, the game will be played in 100 Mile House, the future home of the Lakers organization next season. Dirk was told the game is already sold out
“The city gets to see junior B hockey, what they are going to be supporting,” said Dirk. “It’s good for the league in the sense that Kamloops and 100 mile house will be rivals. They get to see the Kamloops team. Good PR from the league’s perspective.”
Asked if the players will get any jump from the fans in 100 Mile House. Dirk simply said no.
“It’s just another road game for us,” he said.
The Lakers focus in on trying to play well as individuals and as a group.
“The most important thing for us right now is to continue to play strong defensive hockey and compete,” he said.
The Lakers have allowed the third most goals in their division at 127, but possess the worst offense, scoring 72 goals. The Steam are the next lowest at 131.
The Lakers return home to host the Coyotes on Jan. 13 at 2 p.m.