When the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs hit the ice on Monday, the Penticton Lakers will have treated their final two games of 2010-11 as a warm up to their date with the Osoyoos Coyotes.
Two home games against the Kelowna Chiefs and Princeton Posse on Friday and Saturday respectively before the Lakers begin their daunting task of facing one of the league’s best teams.
“We want to win the final two games,” said Marble, whose Lakers are 1-9-0 in its last 10 and 11-36-0-1 on the year.
For the Lakers to pick up four points, they will have to rediscover their scoring ways. Having averaged 2.4 goals per game on the season, the Lakers have been shutout in four of their last five games, including the last three in a row.
“To score goals, you have to go to the net, you have to generate shots with traffic and I don’t think we’ve had a lot of success getting to the net,” said Marble, whose leading point producer is Dylan Burton with 16 goals and 29 points in 47 games. “I think the last couple games we have generated a lot of shots, just nothing where we picked up rebounds in the hard area.”
During their 1-0 loss to the Posse on Saturday, forward Steven Garcia was assessed a two-minute penalty for checking from behind along with a game misconduct. Initially there was confusion that he was given a gross misconduct, which results in the player being given an automatic three-game suspension. Fortunately for the Lakers, that wasn’t the case.
Garcia is their biggest player at six-foot-four, 235 pounds.
“We need him in playoffs to use his size to our advantage,” said Marble. “He has taken some big strides forward. He has lost a lot of weight. His speed has improved because of it. He has taken a step forward in learning the game this year.”
On Tuesday, the Lakers will begin their playoff series with the Coyotes (39-2-2-4), who are enjoying a 12-game winning streak and are undefeated in 16. The series will begin in Osoyoos on Tuesday at the Sunbowl.