Injuries and a lack of goal production are plaguing the Penticton Lakers.
After snapping a four-game losing streak against the Kelowna Chiefs on Oct. 10, the Lakers lost to the Summerland Steam, 6-2, and the Golden Rockets 3-1 last weekend.
Special teams were the factor in the Lakers loss to the Steam, allowing five power play goals on 12 chances. Lakers coach Robert Dirk said it was “ridiculous” the number of penalties called in the game, 25. He had never seen anything like that. Against the Rockets, the power play wasn’t a factor for either team. Kale Erickson scored the Lakers lone goal, but it didn’t come until late with the team trailing 3-0.
The Lakers are without Michael Pond, Jonah Boston, Michael Winnitoy, Daylan Robertson and Ryan Carson to injury, while Cam Rout has been suspended a game. Michael Sandor is trying to stick with a USHL team. Dirk has only had the pleasure of dressing a full team once this season. Dirk said he’d rather deal with injuries now than later.
“I thought we were pretty good defensively, five-on-five,” said Dirk of the weekend. “Special teams not good enough on Saturday. Power play has to get better.”
At 5-4-0-1, Dirk said the Rockets are a pretty good hockey club, especially since they thumped the Osoyoos Coyotes 9-4, who are the best team in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
“I thought we outplayed them,” said Dirk. “Had chances. Just didn’t get it done.”
Heading to Osoyoos (10-2-0) for a game Friday, then Kelowna to take on the Chiefs on Saturday, Dirk simply wants his players to shoot the puck. With the roster as depleted as it is, they will play a little more defensively. The bottom line, though, is Dirk wants to see goals.
“We can’t pass up any opportunities,” said Dirk, whose team has scored the fewest goals, 19, in the league. “Need guys going to the net.”
He also said they need their bigger players to utilize their size more often near the opponents crease. The main positive he saw last weekend were players continuing to play hard.
“It’s easy for the guys to pack it in when things are not going well,” he said.
Leading the Lakers in goals are Paulsen Lautard, Matt Hill and Rout with three goals. Erickson and Sebastian Barrette follow with two, while six others have one goal each.