Fatigue plays factor in Lakers blowing leads

Robert Dirk had one answer for losses in Fernie, Kimberley and Creston Valley last weekend.

“Guys played hard, but honestly, we ran out of gas,” said the Penticton Lakers coach.

The Lakers, 10-28-1-4, were the first to score against the Fernie Ghostriders in a 5-2 loss, but never led after the first two periods. It was a different story against the Kimberley Dynamiters and Creston Valley Thunder Cats. They had a 2-0 lead going into the third and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Dynamiters. Against the Thunder Cats, they had a 3-0 lead only to allow four unanswered goals and lose in double-overtime.

Dirk said factoring into the performances were players being sick.

“I’m having that season you don’t want to have,” said Dirk. “Guys played strong for half a game or two periods and we ran out of gas.”

Mental mistakes are a factor, but its because players are getting too much ice time.

“We could have, should have won both hockey games,” said Dirk, adding that maturity goes a long way. “The 16 and 17-year-olds are learning to play. They will be better for it.”

The Lakers used three affiliate players from the Okanagan Hockey Academy to fill in for injured players. With illness to the players, and Dirk himself, the Lakers returned to practice on Wednesday. With nine games remaining, and mathematically in a playoff hunt, Dirk said his team needs to win nearly all its games and hope the Summerland Steam continues its slump. In their last 10 games, the Steam have two wins. Dirk said they  have no one to blame but themselves for their situation, especially had they been able to pick up a couple more wins against the Steam. Had they done that, they would be in a closer battle for a playoff spot instead of trailing by 12 points.

In other Lakers news, the club traded captain JR Krolik to the Castlegar Rebels on Jan. 10. Dirk said he wanted to give his player a chance to hopefully win a championship.

“It’s strictly out of loyalty,” said Dirk. “I told JR, pick your team. He has a real close friend in Eric Alden in Castlegar who is their captain. He played here as well.”

He played in all three shutout wins (11-0 over Grand Forks and 3-0 wins against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats) for Castlegar.
“He adds toughness,” said Walton to the Castlegar News. “He’s really gritty out there. He’s going to help our defensive zone coverage out there. And it’s another 20 year-old out there. Another veteran in the line-up is always good. We needed another strong defender.”


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